Sunday, June 29, 2008

Junior Volunteers Are Purposeful in Pink

Fauquier Health System has always been fortunate to have so many helping hands. Its volunteer force is large and active.

This summer it has swelled by about 55 (That’s 110 hands!), and these new recruits are eager to be of assistance.

Junior volunteers – all girls this year -- can be seen in nearly every department of Fauquier Hospital, at the MOB and at Warrenton Overlook Health and Rehabilitation Center. They’re easy to spot: they are wearing pink and white striped smocks and are between 13 and 18 years old.

Staci Hostetler, 15, and Liahona Robison, 14, were found last week sorting through old x-rays and purging files in the Medical Imaging Department. It was not exciting work, they agreed, but work that needed to be done. Both girls joined the Junior Volunteers to get a glimpse of hospital routine, and each would like to be a pediatric nurse one day. Staci, a sophomore at Fauquier High School, is putting in four hours a day the first week and Liahona, a freshman, eight. (The first two volunteer sessions are three weeks long; the third is two weeks. The students work weekdays, at least four hours a day.)

Caroline Shaw, 17, was getting a look at life in the Emergency Department during her first week as a Junior Volunteer. The Wakefield student would like to be a nurse one day. Caroline said she also is scheduled to volunteer at the Fauquier Free Clinic later in the summer.

Discovered folding robes in the Operating Room dressing areas, Molly Rodgers is 13 and attends Marshall Middle School. She is putting in her four hours a day in the OR. Molly reported, “I’ve learned that every patient has a lot of paperwork. And all of it is so complicated. I don’t know how the nurses understand it all.”

Once the robes were all folded, Molly was going to head down to the Bistro to meet her sister Sarah Jane for lunch. The 17-year-old sibling is volunteering at Overlook.

The Junior Volunteer program has undergone a few changes for 2008. For instance, a personal interview was added to the list of admission requirements, allowing Director of Volunteer Services Lynn Lauritzen to get to know the applicants before placing them in a department. Also, the girls are spending longer periods of time in each area, instead of shifting to a new location every day.

Lynn told her Junior Volunteers, “Your spending more time in one department vs. very little time in many departments affords you the opportunity to get more involved and receive a more in-depth learning experience.”

All Juniors will submit a scrapbook page they’ve created, due on the last day of their session. Each participant will receive a copy of this compilation of pages at an awards ceremony in October, along with an awards certificate.

Another bonus: Junior Volunteers were invited to apply for the Medical Camp, a two-day event that provided hands-on experience for the medically-inclined.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fauquier Hospital Employees Offer Growing Support

Several of Pam Gay’s Fauquier Health System co-workers recently got their hands dirty to help a friend.

It was Ruth Fugee’s idea to build a butterfly garden in Pam’s backyard. The purpose? To honor Patrick Gay, Pam’s son, who was killed by a hit and run drunk driver on July 15, 2007. Patrick had just graduated from James Madison University and was working and living in North Carolina when he died. Pam said, “He was an awesome son, full of life, loved people and had an unbelievable smile that was simply radiant.”

The origins of the butterfly garden began last August. Pam remembered, “It all started when my younger son Eric returned to VA Tech one month after Patrick died. He called me to say there was a butterfly sitting on his hand and it had been there for ten minutes. Someone walked up to Eric and the butterfly flew away and flew back once the person left. It stayed on his hand for another ten minutes. I immediately saw this as a sign from God that Patrick was OK. Since then, whenever I see a butterfly it brings me comfort.”

“The day after Eric told me the story, I walked into the kitchen in the Medical Office Building to see Ruth Fugee wearing a beautiful butterfly pin. She must have been able to see by the expression on my face that the butterfly meant something special to me. The next day when I came to work, there was a handmade card on my desk from Ruth with beautiful butterflies that she drew. Inside the card was the pin she had on the previous day along with a butterfly magnet. I wore it for weeks afterward.”

Pam said that Ruth sent out an e-mail to the MOB employees with the idea of planting a butterfly memorial garden and several employees decided to donate money – and manpower -- to make it happen. Amy Ashby and Kim Savage, who had both known Patrick were happy to sign on. Joining them were Tom and Ruth Fugee and Amanda and Lonny Sturgeon. With everyone pitching in, the project was finished in about two and a half hours.

Pam explained, “The design was decided on that day, mostly by Ruth. She had researched plants that attract butterflies. There are three butterfly bushes and several other plants that attract butterflies.”

It’s not just the butterflies that are enjoying the labor of love. Pam said, “The butterfly garden has brought my husband and me so much comfort. The first thing I do when I come home from work is check on the garden to see if it needs watering. People have already been adding butterfly type items to the garden. I think of Patrick when I look at the garden. It is very therapeutic to me to work in the garden and just admire it.”

Pam added, “I want to thank all of the employees who were a part of making this happen. I will be forever grateful. Fauquier Hospital truly has class act people working here.”

Hospital Offers Incentives to Schedule Mammograms

Pink ribbons appear on cereal boxes and women’s razors, sneakers, baseball caps and toothbrushes. Everyone knows what they stand for by now: breast cancer awareness.

Even with all the attention the disease receives, it is still the second most common cancer in women, after lung cancer. It is difficult to find a grown woman who has not been touched by breast cancer, either in themselves or through a friend or relative.

Fortunately, breast cancer is one of the most curable cancers. Women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer have a 95 percent cure rate. And mammography can detect cancers up to two years before they can be felt with a breast examination.

Most women know how important mammograms are, but still, many put them off. The medical imaging technicians at Fauquier Hospital recognize that some women are nervous about the procedure and they take special care to make each and every patient feel comfortable and relaxed. The procedure is carried out quickly and with care and respect for each woman’s feelings.

In an effort to encourage women to arrange for this vitally important test, Fauquier Hospital is providing some incentives.

Anyone scheduling a mammogram anytime during the month of July will be entered into a drawing for a luxurious overnight getaway for two at Poplar Springs Inn Spa in Casanova. Trip Advisory reviews for the Poplar Springs Inn Spa read, “A+ experience,” “great weekend getaway,” and “accessible luxury.”

Happy 40th! Any woman who is turning 40 in 2008 may receive a free mammogram as a birthday gift from Fauquier Health System.

Mammography appointments are available Monday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and two Saturdays a month, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 540-316-4500 to schedule an appointment. (You must have a physician’s order before arranging for a mammogram.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Knowledge is Power

It just goes to show you – fitness can be fun. Three conference rooms were transformed June 20 into a well-equipped fitness facility for Fauquier Health System's Employee Health and Fitness Day.

In one corner, Heidi Leavall was treating co-workers to neck and shoulder massages; in another Aren Dodge was bragging about the accomplishments of the Weight Watchers at Work program; close by, a height/weight/BMI station was set up. Linda Costello, Betty Jo Mocarski, Lori Fletcher and Pamela Gay were testing blood pressure and blood sugar, and a display was set up to inform staff about health insurance benefits from Cigna.

One of the more lively sections was where staff members were being evaluated for their fitness levels. Amy Moore, who started fulltime at the LIFE Center July 7 and John Ferguson, who is already a fixture there, were helping employees to see the areas where they were strong and where improvement is needed.

In a blur, Micheal Kresse from facilities management breezed through 75 pushups, cheered on by Gene Monago, LeAnn McCusker and John. Michael was barely breathing hard when he jumped up to receive his “well above average” score.

Other fitness stations included those for situps and flexibility. Employees were game to try, and got down on the floor in their scrubs or removed their badges from around their necks to participate.

Fresh fruit and animal crackers were stocked for an energy pickup, and of course, plenty of bottled water.

Why did employees take time from their busy days to stop by?

Mary Celedonia of Radiology said it was to “see all her friends from the LIFE Center.” She is a member there and apparently, has bonded with those energetic folks.

Quatye Moon, of PAT, said she came because she was curious. With Fauquier Health System for a little over a year, she said, “I must have missed the last one. I wanted to see what was offered.”

Other motivation for attending? It was a chance to earn points on the Pillars of Wellness program for those engaged in FHS’s wellness program.

VP of Senior Services Mary Smith was one of several who tried out the new ultra-high-tech exercise bicycles just purchased for the LIFE Center. Amy Moore explained that the new equipment will be used to begin a spinning class at the center. “It’s fun. You’ll love it,” she enthused.

Meanwhile, in the Chestnut Room, Sarah Freeman was leading a pilates class, giving lots of individual attention in proper technique.

Other classes given during the day included yoga and island dancing – a popular offering at the LIFE Center.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Praying Hands Group Offers Spiritual Support

Recognizing that comfort during difficult times can come from a higher power, Fauquier Health System employs a chaplain to help with the spiritual needs of patients and their families.

Those who visit the hospital are encouraged to involve their faith community to provide spiritual support. Additionally, patient care staff recognizes and responds to this area of need as each is able to do, whether it be a quiet prayer for the patient, a comforting word of encouragement or a formal prayer.

Recently, Caplain David Smith, director of Pastoral Care at Fauquier Health System, invited all staff members to join a Spirituality Work Team, which will offer prayer for patients.

The Pastoral Care Department and the Spirituality Work Team are combining resources to assist patients who come to the hospital and desire that someone pray for them. Currently, patients are asked on admission if they would like someone to pray for them. Many patients request this service.

Anyone who would like to speak with Chaplain Smith to discuss spiritual needs may e-mail or call 316-5000, ext. 3411.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Volunteer is Quietly Capable

Fauquier Health System Auxiliary volunteer Mary Frazer is a graphic artist with an eye for design and style. Over the last year, she has assisted many local artists in hanging their exhibits on the art wall located on the first floor of Fauquier Hospital. Mary's gentle smile reflects her unassuming ability to lend a hand -- quietly, capably, cooperatively.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Respiratory Therapy Department Earns Special Honors

Angie Tolley, supervisor of cardio-pulmonary and vascular services, calmly spoke to the members of her Respiratory Therapy Department May 15 at a standard staff meeting. But her casual exterior just barely hid her excitement. She had a secret, and couldn’t wait to share it with her team.

Angie had known for more than a month that Fauquier Hospital had been named a Quality Respiratory Care institution, but wanted to surprise her staff with the news at the staff meeting.

When Angie finally let the cat out of the bag, there were gasps, cheers and applause.

She explained that only 700 out of 5,000 hospitals in the United States have earned the Quality Respiratory Care designation. It means that patients at Fauquier Hospital “can be assured of receiving the highest standards of respiratory care.”

To qualify for the designation, Fauquier Hospital provided extensive documentation, including paperwork showing that all personnel providing bedside respiratory care services are legally qualified and available 24 hours a day.

While the respiratory team shared congratulatory cake, they talked about their jobs.

Tiffani Dombroff said that she and her co-workers cover a lot of rapid responses.

Phyllis Cordova agreed. She said that respiratory therapists are the first ones the nurses call when there is a problem. “From babies to geriatrics, we’re right there. The nurses depend on us for our respiratory expertise.

“We’re busy all the time.”

How many patients do the respiratory therapists see in a day? Phyllis responded, “About two dozen, but that’s in just the first hour. Anyone who is on oxygen gets seen every day, any kind of cardiac patient. But we’re not just machines. We have time to talk to patients. We do a lot of family education for patients who will be using ventilators at home, for instance.”

She added, “I am very surprised and impressed that we got this award. It’s great that Angie put in for it.”

Carla Adams, senior director of inpatient services and cardio-pulmonary and vascular services, recognized the honor as very special, but wasn’t surprised. “We have a very stable group and their expertise is evident. They have mastered the team concept. They seem almost invisible, they don’t get excited, they are very professional. They go in and do their jobs, with no muss, no fuss.”

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Bit 'o Beta

I’ve arrived. I’ve finally reached the pinnacle of my career. There’s nothing else I want to accomplish. I’ve gone as far as I can.

Last week I got to write 200 words about a fish.

Not just any fish, of course. Mr. Snorkles is a beta fish who lives in the office of the Medical Imaging Department of Fauquier Hospital. He is a pet therapy fish, and exudes a calm, relaxing aura that the staff in the office find comforting. He floats contentedly among gently waving leafy fronds; Mr. Snorkles’ deep blue hue is a beautifully feng shuied contrast to the bright green plants.

Last time I was over there, I asked him how it was going. He turned to me as if to say, “swimmingly, thank you.

”Why was I asked to write about this most amiable aquatic athlete? Don’t tell anyone, but Mr. Snorkles has been nominated for an award. (When he heard, he was giddy to the gills.)

Here is my prose about Mr. Snorkles. (I know I keep repeating his name. It just tickles me to write it … Mr. Snorkles … Mr. Snorkles … Mr. Snorkles…)

“Mr. Snorkles is a male beta fish who currently resides in the front office of the Medical Imaging Departmet. His home is a graceful vase with rocks that have been gathered during the travels of one of the staff members.

“Mr. Snorkles greets staff and patients in the morning with a smiling tail and appears to appreciate everyone in the department. He is here volunteering 24-7. When he first arrived, he was shy and hid behind his plant, but has since become more of an extrovert. Many medical imaging staff members, including techs and radiologists, have been observed chatting with Mr. Snorkles. He is always kind and understanding and never causes conflict. He provides a sense of responsibility for those who feed him and tidy his home.

“Mr. Snorkles has made working in the front office just a bit nicer.”

One of the many things I love about working at Fauquier Hospital is exemplified by this little story. The senior management and the staff realize that thoughtful touches -- like having a beta fish in the office -- do matter. Patient-centered, superb-quality health care is the top priority of course, but the small details that make life better for patients and staff have an important place in the day-to-day planning.

It’s all standard operating procedure: Cold drinks for family members wait in the refrigerator of the ICU; every patient room has an extra bed so that a friend or relative can stay overnight if they want to; a soothing environment exists for healing that includes art and music in the hallways and common areas; Fauquier Health System’s patient concierge visits each new admitted patient to ask if they need anything; room service from the Bistro on the Hill is available; and friendly, helpful attention for patients and family members is offered at every turn.

And although Mr. Snorkles is doing his part to cheer the folks in medical imaging, the health system’s auxiliary operates a larger (and less wet) pet therapy program that brings gorgeous, loving dogs to visit patients. I’ve seen the faces of those the dogs come in contact with. Their wagging tails and gentle attentions are welcome gifts.

Fauquier Health System offers up-to-the-minute, state-of-the-art facilities and top-notch doctors; the little touches combine with the big ones for a very impressive facility.

So if you find yourself in the Medical Imaging Department, be sure to wave a fin at Mr. Snorkles – just for the halibut.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Angel in the Stairwell

By all rights, Helen Gaines of Fauquier Health System’s housekeeping department shouldn’t have been cleaning the elevators near the hospital’s cafeteria last Friday. It had been her day off until she switched shifts.

If she hadn’t been there, though, she wouldn’t have noticed that co-worker Curtis Gregg pushed open the door to the opposite stairwell with unusual force and that his breathing seemed strange. She wouldn’t have been there to help Curtis up the stairs and into the hallway of the pulmonary department, where he collapsed. She wouldn’t have been there to alert the hospital’s Rapid Response Team and to give Curtis his medicine.

As it turned out, Helen is pretty happy she was there that Friday – and so is Curtis. He said, “I was working in dietary that morning. At first, I thought I just had a stomachache, then my jaw started to hurt. I knew something was wrong and all I could think about was getting to the ER.

“I made it up the first flight of stairs, but if it hadn’t been for Helen, that’s where they would have found me, on that stairwell. I couldn’t have gone any farther. I don’t know how she got me all that way. I’m 220 pounds and she is a small woman. I know she held me up at least one time.”

Last year, Curtis, who is 52, had a quadruple bypass. He doesn’t remember asking Helen to get his nitroglycerin tablets, but she does. “He asked me to reach into his pocket and put the medicine under his tongue.”

Helen said, “I did what anyone would have done,” but added, “I know God put me in that place at that time. God has performed many miracles in my life. Afterwards, everyone was hugging me and thanking me. I was a little in shock. I just responded, and didn’t have time to think about it until later. The Rapid Response Team got there really fast, once I found someone to alert them.”

She explained, “I used to work with Alzheimer patients. I learned to stay calm, so that the person you are working with will also stay calm. I guess that training helped.”

Curtis was back to work on Tuesday. He said he has been “humbled” by all the people that have stopped by to wish him well – and to chastise him for not taking the elevator. He said he is grateful for Helen’s strength and quick reactions, and for the care he received from the Rapid Response Team and others. “When I came to in the hallway, there were a ton of people there. It was soothing to see all those familiar faces.”

He concluded, “When I started up those stairs, I was pretty determined to get to the ER, but luckily, Helen was even more determined.”