Thursday, July 31, 2008

From a Volunteer’s Point of View

We have a special treat in store for you today. Fatemeh Nosrati, one of Fauquier Health's Junior Volunteers, has written a guest blog. Fatemeh is a rising high school sophomore, volunteering in the marketing department this summer. Below you will find her impressions.
(In the photo at right, a Career Fair for all Junior Volunteers gave them a glimpse at opportunities in the health care field. Nearly all the departments of Fauquier Health took part in the event.)

I think everyone at one point in their young life begins to wonder what they are going to do when they grow up. Most of us, I think, are unsure. That is how I felt last summer as a rising freshman in high school. I knew for sure that I loved to interact with people and bring joy into their lives. I was fascinated by biology, and loved to watch programs on television that had anything to do with human anatomy and the like. I had even thought of becoming a doctor when I grew up.

But so many questions rushed through my head. What kind of doctor did I want to become? And was it really what I thought it was going to be? What about my love for computers, art, and literature? I was confused and ready to find the answers to my questions.

I decided to become a junior volunteer at the Fauquier Hospital. I hoped that gaining insight into health care workers’ careers would help me to find what I truly loved to do.

My volunteer experience in the summer of 2007 was exceedingly satisfying. I found immediately that the hospital was full of not only skilled doctors and obliging nurses, but also with people who seemed that they where highly satisfied with their jobs. This satisfaction was reflected through their diligent work. The staff members backed one another up, creating an interlocking system like no other, providing for so many of our citizens. And so I went on to discover each field, one department at a time.

I started at the front desk, greeting people, answering their questions, and showing them through the hospital. I spent some time in medical imaging, where I caught a glimpse of some x-rays while the technicians and doctors where discussing diagnoses.

Upstairs on the patient floors, I kept busy filling water pitchers and making beds for sick patients, who were completely gratified to see me; in return I was eminently satisfied to be able to help them.

In the pharmacy, I learned the names and uses of so many medicines while sorting new inventories and disposing of expired ones under the supervision of a technician. I weaved through the hospital, creating a quilt of experiences. Each area that I volunteered in was woven in as a unique square.

One of the most rewarding experiences I have had so far was in the Stone House, where the marketing department is housed. What I enjoyed the most was how interactive it was. Just being around these people, I have been inspired by their original and innovative ideas.

Now it is my second year volunteering and I have remained loyal to the Stone House. Just yesterday I was asked to contribute my thoughts for the Fauquier Health website. Gayla VandenBosche, a marketing specialist, assigned me to contribute ideas by researching other hospital websites. She told me that I was being assigned “a legitimate marketing research project.”

And here I am now, writing for Robin Earl’s blog! I now know I’m not just here to file papers or stick postage stamps on envelopes, but I am here to do what a volunteer is truly set out to do, contribute to the community. Of course, those things still need to be done, and I am glad I took a burden off of someone’s shoulders.

The best part about being a volunteer here is that in my quest to find my ideal career, I no longer search hopelessly. I search confident, with ideas and experiences to back up my ambitions.

Homesick in Pennsylvania

When my sister called last Wednesday to tell me that my mom had been in a car accident, I wanted to immediately whisk her to the Fauquier Hospital Emergency Room, where I knew she’d get wonderful care and attention.

I wanted Dr. Joseph Servideo, director of Emergency Medical Director, looking out for her as she came in the ED door; I wanted Dr. David Snyder, a wonderful orthopedist with kind eyes and an upbeat bedside manner doing the surgery; I wanted Lisa Spitzer, Fauquier Health’s unbelievably empathetic concierge to pay my mom a visit and calm her fears.

The whisking was impractical, since Mom lives in Pennsylvania.

By the time I saw her, my 83-year-old mother had two rods in her right hip, which had been broken in two places. The hospital where she was staying was a traditional hospital – functional, but institutional. It struck me as strange that visiting hours were restricted, that there was no place for a loved one to stay overnight in the room, that there were signs on the walls asking visitors to be quiet. I had forgotten that this is what traditional hospitals are like.

I guess I have become accustomed to the soothing, open atmosphere at Fauquier Hospital. The visit to Pennsylvania reminded me that our little Warrenton hospital is very unusual, if not unique. I think what I missed most in this new environment were the smiling faces of staff throughout the hospital. Everyone I met was pleasant and competent, but the spark of cheerfulness that I’ve come to love and appreciate was missing. No one said “hello” or asked me if I needed anything. They didn’t want to know where I’d driven from or if I had questions about my mother’s care.
I was homesick.

Mom received good care from attentive nurses after her surgery (although she couldn’t eat much of the traditional hospital food), and was transferred by van to a rehabilitation facility after a few days.

My mom is a naturally optimistic person who loves people. Before the wheelchair-equipped van pulled away from the hospital parking lot, I made a bet with myself that she’d have the van driver’s life story before disembarking.

As her wheelchair traveled down the rehab center’s hallways, she explained to me that the driver and his wife had just welcomed their first child. She supplied appropriate details and had him asking her advice on babyproofing his house.
As we got her settled, I was struck by the difference in this facility, compared to what I had become used to – Warrenton Overlook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Where were the ever-patient, always-smiling nurses, aides and therapists, the pet therapy dogs cheering staff and patients alike? Where was the aquatherapy pool that relaxes while it rehabilitates? Where were the great meals, served when patients are hungry instead of on a rigid schedule?

Sigh… Well, I guess everybody can’t be as lucky as we are in Fauquier.

Mom is doing well. She is working hard in therapy and took 40 steps today. She has managed to charm the staff, as I knew she would. She knows all the nurses’ names and the ages of the therapists’ children. She and her roommate, an alzheimer’s patient in for a knee replacement, spent one evening singing – a little too loudly – along with a boom-box.

I still think I should bring Mom to Fauquier. She’d fit right in.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Update on salmonella outbreak

Vernon Rhea, director of food services at Fauquier Health, oversees the Bistro on the Hill. Responsible for providing meals for patients and visitors, he has been monitoring the ongoing salmonella investigation since it was first announced that tomatoes were suspected of making people ill.
Tomatoes have since been cleared, but today Vernon reported that, "the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) announced today they have found jalapeno peppers at a produce wholesaler that tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul. As a result, the public is advised not to consume fresh jalapenos regardless of source, and restaurants and grocery stores are advised not to stock or serve them. While the jalapenos were grown in Mexico, it is unknown if the contamination occurred at the farm, the processor, the shipper, or the wholesaler (where the FDA found the tainted pepper).

"Canned or pickled jalapeno peppers are still considered safe to eat.

"More than 1,200 individuals have been sickened over the last several months by a strain of Salmonella Saintpaul, a relatively rare strain in the U.S.

"For the safety of our customers, Fauquier Health will not be serving fresh jalapeno peppers until FDA and CDC announce fresh jalapeno peppers are cleared from contamination."

New Media Presentation on Zenker's Diverticulum

Dr. Chistopher Chang (see previous blog) reports that he has created a new web-based slideshow on how he treats Zenker's Diverticulum. It is located here:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. Christopher Chang puts procedure videos on You Tube

In 2008, as long as you have a computer, not much is out of reach. When it comes to medical information, though, it’s hard to know where to find accurate, up-to-date information that is understandable to the layperson.

A picture tells a thousand words, but moving pictures tell it better. Ear, nose and throat physician Dr. Christopher Chang has produced ten videos that illustrate some of the surgeries and procedures he performs. The videos are easily accessible at
The procedures caught on video include: Coblation Tonsillectomy, Stroboscopy of the Vocal Cords, Saline Sinus Rinse/Flush, Base of Tongue Reduction for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Coblation Turbinate Reduction, Trans-Nasal Endoscopy, and Pediatric Trans-Nasal Endoscopy.

Sound complicated? The videos simplify things considerably. This fascinating look at real procedures, though not for the squeamish, will take you to a new level of understanding that no words could achieve.

Dr. Chang has also initiated several websites for those interested in reliable information on medical conditions that affect the voice, on hearing aids, on allergy drops, and on Zenker’s Diverticulum – a relatively rare condition that causes the sufferer to constantly cough up particles of food that get caught in a pouch in the throat. An Internet search on Dr. Christopher Chang will yield these sites, and more, on the Warrenton specialist.

How's little Lillie?

A little background on Lillie's dramatic appearance (see blog below):
As Ashley Connor, 19, entered the last weeks of her pregnancy, her OB/GYN Dr. Gina Moore recognized that the baby did not seem to be growing. Ultrasounds and tests to measure the baby’s breathing and movement revealed that there might be a problem.

Dr. Moore asked Ashley to stay overnight at Fauquier Hospital June 9, and when test results were no better the next day, a cesarean section was performed.

The doctor said, “Ashley deserves credit for voicing her concerns to me, for showing up for all of her appointments and doing all that was asked of her. As a very young woman she showed the utmost of responsibility and concern for her precious baby. She handled the news of her baby's danger with poise and maturity.”

“I was scared,” said Ashley. “She was so little. I’m just so glad she’s OK."

Dr. Moore added that “I had the utmost confidence in the nursing care Ashley and Lillie received. Whenever I visited labor and delivery (The O'Shaughnessy Family Birthing Center) in the days and weeks after her birth, Lillie was always under the direct, attentive care of one of the nurses.”

Dr. Moore said that Lillie’s story is “not unusual at Fauquier. The hardworking labor and delivery nurses and techs pour themselves into all of their patients. They work as a team in all cases -- often deliveries are attended by two or three nurses and a tech helping each other, helping me, helping the patient. They exemplify what is great about Fauquier Hospital.”

Before Lillie was discharged – at 3 pounds, 8 ounces -- Ashley got one last lesson from the nurses in the Family Birthing Center. Gathered around a sink padded well with hospital towels, RN Stephanie Rothgeb, helped Ashley bathe her daughter.

As the women gently washed the tiny Lillie, Stephanie kept up a soothing commentary: “Make sure you keep her warm. When you are washing one part of her, cover the rest of her with a towel… Make sure to wash around her neck really carefully. With all those folds and creases, it’s easy to miss something… And don’t leave her alone, not even for a second.”

Ashely listened carefully and asked questions. “It’s a little scary,” she worried. “What if I do something wrong?”

Despite her fears, a last-minute check with Ashley Connor on July 15 revealed a young mother who is very happy – and equally exhausted. “It’s tough getting up at night, but she is great. She smiles all the time now.”
Lillie is still eating every three hours. Ashley said, “Dr. Moore said she could go four hours, but she lets me know when she’s hungry.”

Now that she’s up to 5 pounds, Lillie’s clothes fit better that she did at first. By the time she’s two months old, Ashley expects she’ll be able to wear “regular” newborn outfits.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Three-and-a-half pound newborn is thriving

Lillie Digges has been impatient since the day she was born -- which was only a few weeks ago. She came into the world June 10, at Fauquier Hospital's Family Birthing Center.

Lillie couldn't wait the standard 40 weeks to be born, so she appeared at 35 weeks, even though she was only 3 pounds, 5 ounces. Then, having successfully arrived,
she couldn't wait to get home. So she ate up a storm (a few ounces at a time) and put on weight faster than anyone expected. She was released to head home with her mom, Ashley Connor on June 24, several days ahead of schedule.

Right from the start, "Lillie Pad" (as the nurses liked to call her) was "feisty."

"Most 35-weekers don't do as well as Lillie," said Stephanie Rothgeb, RN. "She started gaining weight right away.

"She was a celebrity around here. People would come in and ask 'How's little Lillie?' We really connected with her, and were surprised to see her go home so soon. We miss her, but we're so glad she is thriving."

I'll have more about Lillie in my next blog post.

OR personnel carry team ethic to the softball field

When I told my 19-year-old daughter I couldn't meet her for dinner because I was covering a softball game, she nodded and smiled absently. Then, after a mental double-take, looked confused.

"Covering a softball game?" she asked incredulously.

For years, as a community journalist, I would write on a regular basis about any sporting or news event that came up. (I remember one mud racing story that had me picking dirt from my teeth for days.)

But now that I was working for the health system, she wondered, why was I covering a softball game?

Friday night, Fauquier Health's softball team -- the Scrubs -- played Molly's Irish Pub of Warrenton in a double header. The teams are part of the Always Active adult sports league. Members of the Scrubs include operating room staff, anesthesia staff and surgeons.

Twenty members of the squad were present at the Taylor Middle School field Friday, looking snappy in their powder blue T-shirts. (The Scrubs has a larger roster than normal, since so many of their group could at any time be otherwise occupied saving lives.)

It was nice to see the Fauquier Hospital players bring their work hard/play hard ethic onto the softball field, and the teamwork they have perfected on the job translated well to the diamond. They performed as a unit and supported one another -- the definition of teamwork, on and off the field.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Local artist exhibits artwork at Fauquier Hospital

For those of you who haven't spent any time wandering the hallways at Fauquier Hospital, there is an art wall reserved for the work of local artists that is worth checking out. It is located on the first floor, near the hospital's conference rooms (Sycamore Rooms A and B and the Chestnut Room), almost directly over the Bistro on the Hill. (It's a perfect place for the displays, in the hallway leading to where many community outreach programs are held, and just one floor up from Fauquier's favorite eating place.)

It's only natural that hospital leaders created this special place for local artwork. The generous sprinkling of art that may be seen all around the hospital is a conscious effort.

Fauquier Hospital is a Planetree-designated facility. The Planetree model of patient-centered care recognizes that it takes more than sutures and medicine to "get better." The physical environment -- open, airy and artfully decorated -- lends itself to healing as well.

Artists who have recently displayed their creations at the hospital include Martha Thomas, who works in acrylics, Gary Huff, who in addition to painting watercolors owns Holy Cow Designs in Culpeper, and Brian Garrett, a photographer.

Fauquier artist Linda Lawler will be displaying her artwork at Fauquier Hospital through September 5, 2008. A conservation activist in Fauquier County, she says that her landscapes are motivated by her love of her home and surrounding countryside.

Rehabilitation therapists earn advanced degrees

Jennie Lockhart, director of Fauquier Health's outpatient rehabilitation services reports that several members of the outpatient staff have received doctorates (DPT) in physical therapy. Linda Wise, Kristine Trimble, Kristen Pierce and Karrie Giger are making the most of continuing education.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fauquier Health Physician Services Welcomes Two New Doctors

Extensive research aimed at identifying the medical needs of our community has determined that specialists in the fields of endocrinology, infectious diseases, medical oncology, psychiatry and rheumatology are sorely needed in our area.

In order to address these needs, Fauquier Health System has embarked on a new business venture. The health system is employing some of these specialists through a new entity, Fauquier Health Physician Services.

Dr. Tam Ly, an infectious disease specialist and Dr. Deepak Kashyap, an endocrinologist will begin seeing patients in early July in the newly renovated Fauquier Health Medical Center on Hospital Hill. The phone number for both new doctors is the same: (540) 316-5940.

Dr. Tam Ly
Dr. Ly said that she pursued a position at Fauquier Hospital because she was intrigued by the Planetree philosophy the hospital has embraced; the Planetree model is based on patient-centered care. Fauquier Hospital is one of only five hospitals in the country to be named a Planetree-designated hospital.

Dr. Ly said, “I want to offer patients the best possible care, the care they deserve.” She also emphasized that she is looking forward to the new relationships her new position will allow-- with her patients and with hospital staff. “Working with the hospital as part of Fauquier Health Physician Services will permit me to turn my attention and energy toward patient care, which is where it belongs. I can’t wait to get started.”

Dr. Ly is board certified in internal medicine and specializes in all manifestations of infectious disease – Lyme disease, tuberculosis, HIV, MRSA -- any and all infections of the body. She also has extensive experience in helping her patients prepare for traveling abroad safely.

She will begin seeing patients July 7.

Dr. Deepak Kashyap
Dr. Deepak Kashyap is board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology and will begin at his new office July 8.

Dr. Kashyap said, “I was attracted to Fauquier Health System for many reasons. I see this as a tremendous opportunity to provide vital specialty care in diabetes and other endocrine diseases. I also feel that my personal philosophies regarding healthcare and those of Fauquier Hospital (the Planetree model) are very compatible.

“Lastly, the supportive environment throughout the hospital and its administration attracted me to this position.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Joint Effort on Knee Replacement Surgery

Richard Scholz had always been an active man with lots of interests. He played baseball at the squadron-level while in the Air Force, traveled all over the world and was a gourmet cook.

But at 66 years old, he was slowing down considerably and realized he was becoming old before his time. It was his knees. For the last four years, they hurt nearly all the time, making it painful to walk.

While on the cruises he liked to take, he was forced to forego activities and day excursions off the ship. He found it difficult to get around; he even had trouble shopping for ingredients for the gourmet meals he liked to prepare.

His immobility led to weight gain and other health risks.

In November of 2007, Richard Scholz took the first step toward recapturing his active lifestyle.

Richard had been on a cruise and had talked to folks who had knee replacements. It was obvious to Richard that they could participate in activities he couldn’t. Their only regret, they told him, was waiting so long to have the surgery.

Orthopedist Dr. Christopher Brown determined that Richard was a good candidate for knee replacement. “Dr. Brown said there was no cartilage left. It was all bone.”

Since then, Richard has been moving rapidly ahead toward his new life. Before undergoing surgery in November, Richard attended a one-day joint class where a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a pharmacist explained what he should do to prepare for surgery, and what to expect afterward. The pharmacist talked about pain management; the therapists discussed important practices that would reduce the risk of pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis – always a risk with surgery.

For those in the class with care partners present, the presenters talked about ways the partners could help before and after surgery. As a widower without family nearby, Richard was prepared to cope without a care partner. He was assured that nurses and therapists would be there to help him every step of the way.

The surgery on Richard’s left knee went well, and the occupational and physical therapists arrived the next morning to evaluate his condition. He was out of bed and putting light pressure on the knee that day. For four days, he received therapy at Fauquier Hospital twice a day.

Upon being moved the few hundred yards to Fauquier Health System’s Warrenton Overlook Health and Rehabilitation Center, Richard’s therapy sessions intensified. For years, Overlook has provided short-term rehabilitation care, in addition to its 24-hour nursing care. Richard was at Overlook for three weeks, and spent some of his therapy time in the aquatherapy pool.

He smiled wistfully, “I loved that pool. It was lovely and warm in there.

“When I came out of the pool after an hour, it felt like I had doubled my weight, my legs were so tired. I found the aqua therapists to be highly trained in their field of expertise, friendly and considerate. They provided one-on-one guidance and evaluated my progress daily. They adapted my exercise routines to my progress, and I started showing improvements in strength, reduction in pain and better mobility.”

Afternoons at Overlook were spent at the in-house physical therapy gym, building up the left knee and the muscles around it. “Overlook was a great transition,” Richard said.

Warrenton Overlook was recently recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities with three-year accreditations for its inpatient rehabilitation services and for its person-centered long term care. Richard saw up close and personal why Overlook was awarded these hard-to-achieve designations.

He enthused, “They were wonderful to me. If I wanted apple juice at 2 in the morning, I got it. Whatever I needed, they were there.”

He added, “Before I could be discharged, the occupational therapists had to make sure I was going to be able to take care of myself. They took me to the kitchen and asked me to make myself some cocoa. They handed me a packet of cocoa mix and told me to fill a cup with water, mix in the packet and put it in the microwave. I looked at them and said, ‘That’s not cocoa.’ ”

Before leaving Overlook, Richard showed the staff there how to make cocoa, and another thing or two about cooking, as well. “I gave them $100 and sent them to Giant to buy scallops, shrimp, garlic and penne. I told them, ‘Buy these ingredients and I’ll make you a meal.’

“I made a big pot, and it was gone in ten minutes.”

After the three weeks at Overlook, Richard was able to go home and take care of himself. “I was able to drive myself home,” he said. “That had worried me.”

Richard used a walker at home for a short time after leaving Overlook, then gave it up for a cane. “The toughest part was changing the litter pan for my cats. I had trouble with that for a while.” But through continued therapy sessions, he worked at building up his strength.

On March 10, Richard underwent surgery on his right knee. “It seemed to go better because I was prepared for the routine. Again, I elected to go to Overlook for rehab and participated in aqua and gym therapy.”

Recovery time was shorter the second time around. Therapy at the Medical Office Building followed his rehabilitation at Overlook.

Richard recently has joined the LIFE Center, Fauquier Health System’s medically based fitness facility located on Holiday Court, a few minutes from the hospital.

Richard continues to earn the affection of his therapists through their stomachs. “They fell in love with me. I made them a Dutch Apple Cake that is wonderful, and a black forest cherry cake. Today I made sticky buns.”

Richard said that he feels there is a direct correlation between his surgery and his “new way of looking at life. My knees are fully functional, I can move around, and I feel more awake and energetic. I feel great!

“I used to be sitting all the time because of the pain in my knees. I didn’t have the energy to boil an egg, now I’m stripping wallpaper. I can go up and down steps and not be out of breath or in pain.”

Like those he met on the cruise months before, Richard said, “My only regret is that I waited so long to have the surgery.”

Richard has already lost 20 pounds with the added exercise he’s been doing, and has adjusted his gourmet cooking style to include healthy recipes. He claims he’s still got about 50 or 60 pounds to lose. With the help of the staff at the LIFE Center – and his own determination — Richard is certain he’ll reach his goal. He’s looking forward to spending some more active time with his sons and their families – five grandchildren in all.

He’s planning a trip in July to London and will visit Finland, Russia and Copenhagen. “I want to be back to 100 percent. I want to be able to participate in all activities – dancing, contests, walking tours. I still walk a little too slow now, but come July, I know I’ll be ready.”

Last leg of the journey
A visit to the Fauquier Health System’s LIFE Center on July 1 found Richard pedaling a stationary bike, surrounded by other exercisers on treadmills, rowing machines and bikes. “I’ve got eight minutes left,” he said with a smile. “Then I’ll do my strength training.”

How’s it going since finishing up with rehab sessions?

“Great. I’m coming every morning and I always feel better after my workout. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I do strength training (on the circuit machines around the perimeter of the floor) and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I do cardio (using the various aerobic machines). My knees feel great. I’m eating like a bear. My weight is staying the same, but I am losing inches.”

The sweat is visible on Richard’s face, but his voice is steady and he’s not out of breath. “I’m up to level five,” he said, looking down at the bicycle’s control panel.

Richard’s goal is still to be in top shape for his trip on July 24, and he’s on course. In addition to LIFE Center workouts, he’s doing water workouts at the aquatherapy pool at Overlook, included with a LIFE Center membership.

“Five minutes left…. I like this bike, and that machine over there that concentrates on the arms. I don’t like the treadmill, though. Too boring.”

Richard has an exercise bike at home. Why travel to the LIFE Center to work out?

“My cats sleep on my bike at home. I never use it. When I’m here, in this environment, I don’t give up.” He looked around at the ever-present instructors on the floor. “Too many witnesses,” he said with a wry smile.

Since his initial appointment at the LIFE Center, when rehab technician John Ferguson explained the equipment and made suggestions about a workout, Richard hasn’t needed much assistance. He’s got a routine and it works for him.

“Three minutes left.”

His voice is still strong, but Richard’s smile is getting broader as he pedals. “I really feel great,” he said again.

Richard said that he is going to make an appointment with the LIFE Center’s dietitian, Aren Dodge. “I eat all right, but I really love ice cream and donuts.” He laughed. “I do need to make that appointment.”

Richard felt the tension in the bike go slack and stood up. “All done. Today’s a strength day, so I’ve got to do my circuit now.”

Richard has come a long way since he first considered knee surgery. But he doesn’t like to look back on those days of pain and inactivity. For Richard, it’s all about the adventure ahead.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fauquier Hospital Goes Tobacco Free

On July 4, Fauquier Health System took an important step toward clearing the air. The health system’s Warrenton campus -- which includes Fauquier Hospital, Warrenton Overlook Health and Rehabilitation Center, the Medical Office Building on Hospital Hill, the doctors’ offices behind the hospital and the surrounding grounds – is now a tobacco-free zone beginning on Independence Day. It’s hard to miss the symbolism.

Health system president and CEO Rodger Baker said that he is delighted that Fauquier will join the thousands of other healthcare facilities around the nation in going tobacco free. “As the largest healthcare organization in the area, it is time for us to take a stand for the health of our community. Heart disease is a huge issue in our community, and smoking is a major contributor. We are very excited to be able to offer our patients and their families healthier surroundings, where everyone can breathe easier.”

Although steadfast in its commitment to a tobacco-free environment, health system leaders recognize that some staff, patients, volunteers and visitors do smoke. They understand that nicotine is highly addictive and quitting can be extremely difficult. Every effort is being made to ease the transition to a tobacco-free campus.

For patients who smoke, doctors can order a nicotine patch on admission. The patch, which releases nicotine through the skin, will ease cravings during a hospital stay.

Visitors older than 18 who smoke will be offered complimentary nicotine gum to chew while on campus, if they choose.

About 34 staff members are enrolled in a smoking cessation program offered by the Health System. Those trying to quit are working with anti-smoking coaches who offer support and encouragement. Medication and counseling supplement the program.

The health system hosted a community discussion on smoking cessation on July 2 at the hospital. The gathering was led by Dr. Robert Iadeluca, a clinical psychologist who is an expert on addiction.

The much-anticipated tobacco-free initiative is in keeping with other Fauquier Health System plans for a healthier community.

The recently renovated L.I.F.E. Center is a medically based fitness facility open to everyone. No physician referral is necessary.

The health system sponsors numerous community health screenings – for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and more – throughout the year

Educational offerings include the very popular Mini-Medical School and programs for new mothers. Lectures by local doctors – on joint replacement, sleep disorders or first aid, for instance – are regular features on the health system calendar.

A wellness program for employees focuses on nutrition, exercise and preventative care.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Medical Day Camp is a Cut Above

The scalpel was steady as the first cut was made. Slowly … carefully … the cornea of the donated eye was sliced neatly and removed. Held up with tweezers for examination, the operation was declared a success.

The surgeon in this case was wearing scrubs and anti-infection gear, but she holds no medical degree. It was Leslie Jones’ first such operation. She is 15.

Leslie was one of 15 middle and high school students who participated in
Fauquier Health System’s first-ever Medical Camp June 25 and 26. The camp, organized by the VIPeds committee, introduced the students to respiratory therapy, IV skills, orthopedics, nursing, medical ethics, the hospital’s laboratory and pharmacy, medical imaging and vascular techniques, in addition to surgery.

“We had a mock code this morning,” said Leslie after the cornea harvesting exercise on the second day of camp. “I was a clinical technician. We did CPR, put in tubes. There was a lot of action. It was ‘controlled chaos,’ just like we were told it would be. An ‘injured’ camper came in with the rescue squad. We were moving pretty quickly. It was an adrenaline rush.”

It was a useful experience for Leslie; she would like to be an ED physician in a few years.

All of the students who attended Medical Camp are currently working as Junior Volunteers around the health system, and they all entertain medical aspirations.

Danyelle McDaniel would like to be a trauma doctor or nurse in the ED. When approaching the eye surgery, Danyelle said, “It was fun. But at first I was afraid I wasn’t going to do it right.” It all worked out just fine, though, and then the “surgeons” helped themselves to donuts and energy bars.

Leslie added, “Everything we’ve done has been really interesting, and not hard to learn. I enjoyed suturing yesterday.” (The students practiced their stitching on chicken legs.)

The girls particularly appreciated the hands-on nature of the camp lessons. They were able to ventilate a (mannequin) baby; perform ultrasound on one another; mix medicines; and insert an IV (on a training arm).

One of the camp organizers, Wendy Greenwood, RN, said that one of the girls couldn’t wait to tell her mom that they actually got to “do stuff.” Wendy said with a big smile, “She said her mom said that they’d be sitting and listening to lectures, that there was no way we’d let them be hands-on. She couldn’t wait to get home and tell her mom she was wrong.”

The girls were challenged during a discussion of medical ethics and were introduced to some tough realities during a talk by Bill Proctor, executive director of Old Dominion Eye Foundation. He talked about facing the parents of a 16-year-old, killed in a car accident and talking to them about organ donations. He described a 6-year-old girl opening her eyes and seeing for the first time after a cornea transplant. He related the story of a high school football player who earned a scholarship to play in college after a successful bone transplant. And he told how a 12-year-old child died two days after a family reversed its decision to donate their deceased child’s heart.

The students were engaged and interested. “How do you donate skin?” one asked, then listened thoughtfully when Bill Proctor answered her question and elaborated about the need for skin transplants for burn victims.

All of the presenters were eager to participate in the medical camp. Wendy related that she was impressed with how willing all the departments were to help teach the students. “We’re training our replacements,” she laughed.

Students were given some mementos of the day: a key chain shaped like a skeleton hand; a pen that looked like a hypodermic needle; their own suturing practice kit, and of course, their own personal scrubs, in Fauquier Health System teal with the VIPeds logo in place.