Monday, September 29, 2008

Weight Loss Update

I wrote an entry at the beginning of August (http://www.viewfromhospitalhill.org/2008/08/weight-loss-doesnt-have-to-be-solitary.html), announcing that I was trying to lose weight, and expressing frustration because my efforts were showing no results. I sort of committed myself publicly, and therefore feel accountable to my readers. (I suppose I could just delete that entry, but that would be cheating, right?)

Well, thanks to almost-daily trips to Fauquier Health’s L.I.F.E. Center, I have lost 18 pounds since the day of my rant (August 7). I have given away two boxes of too-big clothes and I feel much better.

Every morning when I arrive at the L.I.F.E. Center, I am greeted by smiling faces murmuring words of encouragement. That support – and the fluctuating needle on the scale – keep me showing up day after day.

John Ferguson, one of the L.I.F.E. Center staff who has been my cheerleader since the beginning, stopped by my treadmill the other day to show me a (very large) pair of pants he used to wear; now they would be swimming on him. Sharing success stories gives us all hope.

Other staff members are just as supportive. Sarah Freeman is trying to entice me into one of her exercise classes, and Amy Moore gave me an impromptu lesson on blood pressure numbers and what they mean. The L.I.F.E. Center staff has been there for me and I appreciate them so much.

Of course, I have to do the sweating part myself.

It's Just a Drill


Don’t be alarmed. The photo you see at right is not of someone tragically injured. It’s a picture of Amanda Sturgeon, senior director of Fauquier Health’s Patient Accounts Department, who “took one for the team” as part of an emergency preparedness drill September 25.

Amanda, Colleen Beres, (director of patient care for 3S/3W), Lionel Phillips (chief financial officer) and Barbara Tobias (a hospital volunteer) acted as burn victims in a mock disaster drill designed to give health systems around the region a chance to test their preparedness in case of a life-threatening disaster.

Fauquier victims were convincingly made up by Christina Clayton of the Patient Access Department and Julie Whisler, a strategic services specialist.

The drill, organized by the Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance, included hospitals from all over Northern Virginia, and challenged the facilities to consider how they would handle multiple emergency events happening simultaneously.

In Thursday’s scenario, three explosions in Northern Virginia -- at least one the result of a “dirty bomb” -- and an overturned truck loaded with chemicals strained the resources of Northern Virginia healthcare facilities. The disaster wasn’t real, but healthcare leaders around the region made decisions as if it was.

When word first arrived of the mock explosions, Fauquier Health’s emergency preparedness team assembled to prepare for the arrival of “patients.” An assessment of current resources was quickly accomplished and steps were taken to make beds and other resources available for an unknown number of badly injured patients.

Patients already identified for discharge that day were moved (they weren’t really moved, just theoretically), an area of the hospital closed due to construction was reopened and prepared for patients (again, just theoretically), and other emergency bed space was located.

More than three hundred victims were to be handled by the hospitals in the area. Facilities closest to the disaster were hit first with a wave of victims, and then about 9:10 a.m., Fauquier received its first two “burn victims.”

As in an actual disaster, information was scarce and medical personnel and administrators were called upon to think on their feet.

As part of the drill, Fauquier staff handled issues that would present themselves during a disaster:

• A 3-year-old child had been separated from its mother, who had been taken to the Fauquier ED. Mother and child were reunited after communication with other hospitals.

• Some arriving patients were passed through a decontamination process as a precaution because no information was initially available about the type of bombs that exploded.

• An unrelated multiple-car accident on U.S. 29 brought more critically injured patients into the ER.

• Separate phone lines were set up to handle calls from loved ones, staff calling in to offer help, concerned members of the community and the media.

• Lisa Spitzer, Fauquier Health’s concierge and David Smith, chaplain, took charge of helping victims and their families cope with their fear and grief.

• One of the hospitals in the Northern Virginia group received a terrorist threat and Fauquier Hospital was placed on lockdown. No unauthorized persons were allowed in or out of the hospital doors. Supply deliveries were checked and rechecked.

• An instant messaging Web site allowed all the participating hospitals to report status updates and needs. When Fauquier Hospital reported that it needed ventilators and IVs, another hospital responded quickly.

• The “Incident Command” team, led by president and CEO Rodger Baker and Carla Adams, senior director of inpatient services, used special computers and cell phones reserved just for emergency situations.

• Everyone’s roles were carefully documented and assigned in advance. All jobs had more than one person who understood them, for backup.

As the drill wound down and “victims” washed off the red paint, the day’s events were documented, questions were asked, and an evaluation of the process was completed. Mock victim Barbara Tobias was honored with the “best actress” award for crying on cue so convincingly that she scared the make-up artists.

It was a surreal day -- mock disasters followed by genuine responses. Then again, I imagine a real emergency would produce its own brand of surreal.

It was a worthwhile project for all concerned. At the end of the day, the realities of a large-scale disaster were a little more concrete.

Doing is believing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Driver Car Clinic Being Held Again in November

I wrote a blog back in April about a New Driver Car Control Clinic sponsored by Fauquier Health. I thought it was an excellent opportunity for parents to prepare their young drivers for the unexpected hazards of the road.
The class is being offered again in November. Here are the details.

New-Driver Control Clinic
When: Classroom segment will be held at 7:00 p.m. Behind-the-wheel part of the course will be held November 8 or 9, morning or afternoon.
Where: Classroom segment – Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms; behind-the-wheel – lower parking lots of Lord Fairfax Community College
Cost: $169
Details: Designed to give teen drivers skills to handle the unexpected.
Call for info: Go to http://teendrivers.com/mdva.htm or call 800.862.3277

If you would like to read the initial blog, which tells the inside story about the class, click
here.

Promoting Health in Fauquier

Here's a calendar of events for Fauquier Hospital. Lots of "healthy" events here.

Saturday, October 4
Nannette’s Walk, benefiting breast cancer awareness.
When: 9:00 a.m. for 2-mile walk
Where: Starting at the Middleburg Fitness Club
Registration required? Yes
Details: Percentage of proceeds benefit Fauquier Hospital
Call for info: 703.447.2302

Diabetes Product Fair
When: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health’s L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required? Yes
Details: Vendors and pharmaceutical representatives will have information on products. “Ask the Educator” booth will be offered, as well.
Call for info: Aren Dodge, 540.316.2652

Health Education
When: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Details: The topic is “Weight Loss.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Wednesday, October 8
Planetree Quilting Bee meeting (New quilters welcome)
When: 4:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Resource Center
Call for info: Terry Pfautz, 540.316-5000, ext. 1480

Free blood pressure screening
When: Noon to 2:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Friday, October 10
Health Education
When: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Details: The topic is “Work Out Smarter, Not Harder – Tricks of the Exercise Trade.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Saturday, October 11
Free advance directives seminar
When: 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Meet at the information desk of Fauquier Hospital
Registration required? Yes
Call for info: 540.316.3588

First Aid, infant and child CPR class
When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
Cost: $60
Registration required? Yes
Details: The class includes infant and child CPR and will prepare participants to respond to children up to age 8 or up to 55 pounds.
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Thursday, October 16
Women and Fibromyalgia lecture with Dr. Mehra
When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
Registration required? Yes
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Health Education
When: 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Details: The topic is “Weight Loss.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Saturday, October 18
Walk for Diabetes
When: Registration starts 9:00 a.m.; event begins 10:30 a.m.
Where: Micron Technologies, Manassas
Registration required? Yes
Details: Fauquier Health is putting together a team to participate in the Prince William Step Out: Walk for Diabetes, a 3.1 mile walk and fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association.
Call for info: Aren Dodge, team captain at 540.316.2652; call 1.888.DIABETES or go to diabetes.org/stepout to join the team or donate

Wednesday, October 22
Planetree Quilting Bee meeting (New quilters welcome)
When: 4:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Resource Center
Call for info: Terry Pfautz, 540.316.5000, ext. 1480

Wednesday, October 22
Massage for Couples, Level I
When: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $45 per couple
Registration required? Yes
Details: Therapeutic massage for couples, taught by Heidi Leavell. Couples should bring two pillows and a sheet and wear comfortable clothing. Ladies should bring a bathing suit or a halter top. Level I is for couples with no massage experience.
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Wednesday, October 29
Conversations in Ethics
When: 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
Details: The topic will be on palliative care. The speaker is the medical director from Capitol Hospice.
Call for info: Paula Black, social worker, 540.316.5000, ext. 2488

Thursday, October 30
Classes for Caregivers
When: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Session I is 1:00 to 2:00, on general caregiving skills; Session II is 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., on home safety; Session III is 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., on community resources; Session IV is 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., on caring for the caregiver)
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
Registration required? Yes
Details: Experts speak on the problems caregivers face. Information on local resources will be available. Attendees may attend as many sessions as they wish. Offered by Fauquier Health in conjunction with Aging Together.
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Health Education
When: 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Details: The topic “Work Out Smarter, Not Harder – Tricks of the Exercise Trade.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Tuesday, November 4
Health Education
When: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Details: The topic is “Holiday Eating.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Thursday, November 6
New-Driver Control Clinic
When: Classroom segment will be held at 7:00 p.m. Behind-the-wheel part of the course will be held November 8 or 9, morning or afternoon.
Where: Classroom segment – Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms; behind-the-wheel – lower parking lots of Lord Fairfax Community College
Cost: $169
Details: Designed to give teen drivers skills to handle the unexpected.
Call for info: 800.862.3277, or go to http://teendrivers.com/mdva.htm or call

Health Education
When: 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Details: The topic is “Holiday Eating.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Saturday, November 8
Free advance directives seminar
When: 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Meet at the information desk of Fauquier Hospital
Call for info: 540.316.3588 (Registration required)

First Aid, infant and child CPR class
When: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
Cost: $60
Registration required? Yes
Details: The class includes infant and child CPR and will prepare participants to respond to children up to age 8 or up to 55 pounds.
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Monday, November 10
Health Education
When: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Details: The topic is “What’s Next? Taking Your Exercise to the Next Level.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Wednesday, November 12
Free blood pressure screening
When: Noon to 2:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Thursday, November 13
Diabetes Support Group
When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Will meet in Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms for talk on “Diabetes and You.”
Details: Deepak Kashyap, M.D., of Fauquier Health Endocrinology will speak to attendees about diabetes prevention and treatment.
Call for info: Aren Dodge, 540.316.2640

Diabetes and You
When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
Details: Deepak Kashyap, M.D., of Fauquier Health Endocrinology will speak to attendees about diabetes prevention and treatment.
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Health Education
When: 4:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $12 for those who are not members of the L.I.F.E. Center
Registration required: Yes (space is limited)
Details: The topic is “What’s Next? Taking Your Exercise to the Next Level.”
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Wednesday, November 19
Massage for Couples, Level II
When: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $45 per couple
Registration required? Yes
Details: Therapeutic massage for couples, taught by Heidi Leavell. Couples should bring two pillows and a sheet and wear comfortable clothing. Ladies should bring a bathing suit or a halter top. Level II is for couples with some experience.
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Thursday, November 20
Free Joint Replacement seminar
When: 6:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
Registration required? Yes
Details: Dr. David Snyder will discuss every aspect of joint replacement, from initial consultation to rehabilitation, as well as non-surgical alternatives.
Call for info: 540.316.3588

Ongoing
Vascular screening
When: Wednesdays (Call for appointment)
Where: Fauquier Hospital Vascular Lab
Cost: $50 each; $125 for all three tests
Registration required? Yes
Call for info: 540.316.5800

Cholesterol screening
When: Monday to Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Health L.I.F.E. Center
Cost: $26
Registration required? Yes
Call for info: 540.316.2640

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Warm and Fuzzy Moment in the ED

The Planetree philosophy maintains that in health care, it’s the little things we do that make all the difference. Sometimes the little things are child-sized and fuzzy.

After a bad car accident, a mom and her 5-year-old son were taken by ambulance to the Fauquier Hospital Emergency Room. It could have been a traumatic event. But with some extra-special care from the ED staff, mom and child came out OK.

Jane Bates’ car hit an embankment August 12 as she was taking her son to day care. Retired Prince William Fire Marshall Bill Spicer was the first to arrive at the scene. After he checked out Jane’s son and saw that he was OK, the Catlett Rescue Squad arrived and took mother and child to Fauquier Hospital.

“He was scared,” said Jane Bates about her son. “He kept saying, ‘I want my dad!’ ”

But upon arriving at the hospital, both mother and child were put at ease by the ED staff. Shaun seemed to relax, according to his mom. “He kept telling everyone, ‘I’m Shaun Bates. I’m the big 5. My mommy had a crash.’ Whenever someone would come into the room, he’d tell them too. I was laying on a board and couldn’t move, but I could hear Shaun telling everybody what happened and hear everyone laughing with him.”

Jane added, “The nurses made sure Shaun had something to eat and they let him push the buttons on the X-ray machine. They took good care of him.” Crayons and coloring books helped to pass the time.

But even though Shaun was not hurt and was busy charming the heck out of everyone, all was not well.

Belkie was missing.

Belkie is a stuffed bear that was given to Shaun by his grandmother. Although Shaun still had one of his bears in his arms, he worried about the missing-in-action Belkie.

It seemed that Bill Spicer – with bear in tow -- had been to the hospital ED earlier, before Shaun and his mom arrived. Bill had been asking for the pair, eager to reunite bear and child. When he didn’t find them at Fauquier, he took off for Prince William, thinking they had been taken there instead.

Patient Access Specialist Karen Wise explained to Jane that her little boy’s bear had been located. “She was so happy because that is all he wanted,” said Patient Access Specialist Tina Lacy.
“Karen forgot about leaving for the day and set herself the task of trying to find ‘Fire Marshall Spicer.’ (That’s what it said on his shirt.)”

Tina remembered, “Karen called Fauquier County Dispatch to get a number for Prince William County Dispatch after relaying the urgency of this call. (It was A BEAR, after all.) After many phone calls trying to reach Bill Spicer, Karen got lucky. The former fire marshall had just arrived at the ED in Prince William when she caught him. She updated Bill and he made his way back to Fauquier with the bear!”

Tina added, “After getting consent from Jane, we spoke to little Shaun and asked him if he needed anything. He told Karen, ‘Just my bear, Belkie.’

“When Bill arrived, he and Karen told Shaun they had a surprise for him. Bill asked Shaun if he was OK after his accident and he said, ‘Yes, I just need Belkie.’

“Bill took Belkie from behind his back; there were smiles and laughter all around and many ‘thank yous.’ Shaun went back in his mother’s room and sat there with his bears, waiting patiently for his mom to be OK.

Tina recalled, “The smile on Shaun’s face when he saw the bear was priceless.”

Monday, September 8, 2008

Surgical Technologists in the Spotlight

When it comes to surgery, the doctor who is performing an operation may be in the starring role. But the supporting cast is also vital to the success of the performance.

Surgical Technologist Appreciation Week (September 21-27) seems like a good opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of some of these unsung heroes.

What does a surgical technologist do, anyway?

Judging from the surgical services staff at Fauquier Hospital, the answer may be “almost everything.”

“We take care of everything for the surgery, from gathering the necessary equipment and supplies for the surgery to making sure the instruments are in working order and properly sterilized,” said Tedric Lolis, a certified surgical technician. “We assist during surgery, help position the patient, make sure we have everything we will need, maintain the sterile environment, pass instruments, watch for signs of a problem and anticipate the needs of the surgeon.”

The surgical technologists at Fauquier Hospital handle many different kinds of operations – orthopedic, EMT (ear, nose and throat), general surgery, urology, gynecology, opthalmology, vascular, even cesarean births. Indeed, that’s what many in the department like about the job. “It’s something different all the time,” said surgical technologist Keith Robinson. “It’s definitely a rush, working with different doctors, making sure everything goes smoothly. There’s a lot on the line. “Because every patient is unique, the simplest case can develop into something unexpected. We have to be ready. If we see some bleeding, we are right there, putting the correct instrument in the doctor’s hand.”

Tedric agrees that there can be some high drama in the OR. “We know that when we start a C-section, there are lives on the line. We are prepared. We know that every laparoscopic case (surgery through a small incision) could turn into an open case (major surgery).”

Deborah Boswell, clinical educator, points out that one important job performed by the techs is to keep careful count of all the instruments and sponges, before and after the surgeries.
Keith explained, “We control the field. We are the safety officers, making sure everything is kept sterile and safe.”

Tedric says, “We work with so many different doctors and they are all different. We have to be attuned to those differences. Their routines can vary dramatically.”

How do surgeons feel about working with Fauquier Hospital surgical technologists?

Dr. Gina Moore, a OB/GYN physician, says that the surgical techs at Fauquier Hospital help her cases run smooth, safe and on time. “We have an excellent OR team. They are top-notch.”

These members of the OR’s supporting cast have become more visible of late. Traditionally, the surgical techs don’t see patients when they are conscious; they step in while the patients are receiving anesthesia and are often not seen or remembered by the patients. In an effort to allow the technologists more patient contact, the techs currently are helping to teach a class for patients who are scheduled to undergo joint replacement.

Deborah says, “The class gives patients an idea of what goes on during surgery. Patients like meeting the surgical techs, and when they come in for surgery, they find a familiar face they can talk to and ask questions. It’s comforting for them to see the same tech when they come in for surgery as they did during their class.”

Surgical technologists, for once, can meet their audience.

Now, it’s time to take a bow.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Showing off the Family Birthing Center

One of my favorite activities is showing off Fauquier Hospital to folks who haven’t visited in a while. It’s always fun to hear them react to all the positive changes that have been put in place over the last few years.

I was able to indulge myself last week, when some friends of mine came up for a private tour of the O’Shaughnessey Birthing Center. They had called to say that their daughter and her husband were having a baby and they wanted to have the opportunity to see the center for themselves. The parents-to-be were enrolled in the hospital’s “Your Childbirth Experience” class already, but were afraid they might give birth before it was time for the regular tour. I was delighted to oblige.

We met for a bite in the Bistro before heading up to the fourth floor. Sarah, who is just beginning to get that “pregnant walk,” enjoyed a cheeseburger and said she was pleased that she and her husband Troy will be eating Bistro cuisine while in the hospital. I told them about the “room service” option that is available for patients and their guests.

The nurses in the Family Birthing Center were happy to make room for our little group and directed me to an empty birthing room, so that Sarah and Troy could take a look around. The couple – and Sarah’s parents – seemed pleasantly surprised to see the home-like, comfortable rooms where they will soon welcome their first child. I showed them how the wooden cabinets open to reveal all the latest in medical equipment, in case it is needed. They were happy to hear that all the birthing rooms are big and roomy, and that each has a window.

We didn’t get to see any babies in the nursery that day. Newborns regularly stay in the rooms with their moms while they are in the hospital, unless they need special nursing attention.

As Sarah and Troy headed to their childbirth class, I asked her parents to make sure to let me know when Sarah gives birth. It’ll give me another excuse to visit the fourth floor.