Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Joyful Noise

Volunteer Hunter Payne tickled the ivories while Fauquier Health employees entertained visitors to the hospital with carols of the season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Visit to the Free Clinic (The Night Before Christmas)

This delightful poem about the Fauquier Free Clinic was written by Larry Stillwell, a volunteer receptionist and financial screener at the clinic. The Fauquier Free Clinic is supported by Fauquier Health and by the Fauquier community.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and at the Free Clinic,

No one could complain, not even a cynic.

The needles and meds were stored with great care,

And the staff and volunteers had all disappeared;

The patients had emptied the calm waiting room

Where the radio played an old Christmas tune.

And Rob with his whiteboard was doing his best

To close up for Christmas while the staff got their rest.

But there at the window, a new patient stood,

Waiting with patience like a good patient should.

“I’m sorry, we’re closed,” Rob began to explain,

But the man interrupted: “Dear sir, I’m in pain!

I have no appointment, no money, no hope.

Can’t I please see a doctor? Can’t you throw me a rope?”

So what could Rob do, how could he say no

To a bedraggled Santa with reindeer in tow?

Santa looked unhealthy and obviously sick:

Rob knew in a moment he’d need help real quick.

Santa’s symptoms were many; as he called out his list

Rob thought it a wonder he could even exist!

“I’m hungry and thirsty and worn to my bone,

I’m arthritic and crippled – and I could use a small loan!

My heart is a mess, my B.P. is sky high;

If I don’t see a doctor, I’m going to die!”

As dry heaves shook his body he uttered a yelp

And shook like red Jell-O as Rob phoned for help.

“Come, doctors! Come, nurses! Come, each volunteer!

Come someone to care for Santa’s reindeer!”

He was dressed from a thrift store, this dodgy old coot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

He was way overweight, porky and meaty;

And the doctors could tell that he had diabetes.

He had melanoma and a rhythmic heart murmur

And what looked like the start of a cancerous tumor.

His nose it was bulbous and red as a cherry

And he tested allergic for gluten and dairy.

He spoke not a word, but his head gave a jerk;

Tom greeted him warmly and brought paperwork:

“Do you live in the county? Can you show us some proof?

What is your income? Please tell us the truth.

A letter of support would provide reassurance;

We’ll be glad to help if you don’t have insurance.”

Then the doctors made an astute diagnosis

And some meds from the pharmacy improved his prognosis.

The whole team pitched in and soon – Ho! Ho! Ho!

By midnight old Santa was now good to go.

He thanked everyone in both English and Spanish,

Then out the backdoor they all watched him vanish.

And they heard him exclaim in that voice people mimic,

“I’m forever grateful to the Fauquier Free Clinic!

So thank you, my friends, your clinic, it’s clear

Has saved Christmas for all, so Happy New Year!”

This story’s moral I need not belabor:

Like the folks at the clinic, take care of your neighbor!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fauquier Health's Hospitalist Program

Some folks who are admitted to Fauquier Hospital may be confused if they are visited by physicians other than their own family doctor. Fauquier Hospital in 2008 instituted a Hospitalist program to meet the needs of inpatients. Always on hand, these physicians provide 24/7 attention so that independent doctors can continue to see patients at their offices.

Hospitalist physicians care for patients admitted to the hospital until they are discharged. With wide experience in multiple disciplines, they are trained to treat a broad range of medical conditions.
Hospitalists embrace Fauquier Health's patient-centered care philosophy, and are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to our hospitalized patients in a warm, comfortable and supportive environment.

Each day you’ll find them partnering with patients and their family members to satisfy a wide range of patient needs and preferences.

A few frequently asked questions about the Hospitalist program:

What are the advantages of a hospitalist program?
Without an outside practice or office hours to keep, our hospitalists can focus on the needs of patients. They are available around the clock. Because they are experts on Fauquier Hospital procedures and staff, they can smooth the way to recovery for their patients.

What are the hospitalists’ qualifications?
All of our hospitalist physicians are board certified in internal or family practice. Each has also completed an Internal Medicine or Family Practice residency program, and is trained in the care of critical patients.

How do hospitalists ease communication?
Because hospitalists are on site, they are available to meet with patients and their care partners to discuss treatment, care plans and discharge planning.
Hospitalists will contact a patient’s primary care doctor within 24 hours of admission. That doctor can share necessary information with the hospitalist.
In turn, physicians will be updated about any significant changes in a patient’s condition during their stay. Primary care doctors receive a summary of the hospital stay and discharge medications.
If follow-up care is needed, the doctor will be contacted before discharge.

How can I be seen by a hospitalist while in the hospital?
Your primary care physician must be enrolled in Fauquier Hospital’s Hospitalist Program to participate.

Meet the Hospitalists

Alireza Tajick, MD
In addition to being trained in internal medicine, critical care, intensive care, emergency medicine, infectious diseases, renal disease and cardiology, Dr. Tajick is a former biomedical engineer who is an expert in designing prosthetics, orthotics and mobility aids for children and adults with disabilities.
He is board certified in internal medicine and certified in basic life support and advanced cardiac life support.

Ahmad Basharmal, MD
Dr. Basharmal not only graduated in the top 1 percent of his medical school class, he also received clinical training specifically designed for hospital medicine. His residency program included electives in internal medicine, nephrology, dermatology and hematology/oncology. Dr. Bashharmal is board certified in internal medicine.

Scott Chung, MD
Dr. Chung came to Fauquier Hospital after working for more than seven years at the Suncoast Medical Clinic— a Florida medical group known for pioneering the multispecialty group concept. After earning his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1995, Dr. Chung completed his training at the Georgetown University/Providence Hospital family practice residency program. He is board certified in family medicine. Dr. Chung grew up in Northern Virginia.

Kamrul Kashem, MD
Dr. Kashem came to Fauquier Hospital from one of the busiest hospital centers in Northern Virginia where he treated a large volume of patients and a wide variety of medical conditions. Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. Kashem is also fluent in Bengali. Dr. Kashem’s residency training was specifically designed for hospital medicine.

Yemisrach Mulugeta, MD
Prior to joining Fauquier Hospital, Dr. Mulugeta completed a variety of clinical rotations that spanned more than a dozen years. In that time she covered specialty areas such as internal medicine, infectious diseases, geriatrics, pulmonology, rehabilitative care, gastroenterology, pediatrics, gynecology/ obstetrics and surgery. She is board certified in internal medicine and is also fluent in Amharic.

Alyaman Saeed, MD
Dr. Saeed spent the first part of his medical career in the fast-paced hospitals and urgent care centers of Northern Virginia and suburban Washington, D.C. His experience and training cover multiple areas, including: internal medicine, emergency medicine, intensive care, progressive care, coronary care, geriatrics, pediatrics, rheumatology, psychiatry, obstetrics/gynecology, sports medicine, dermatology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology and dermatology. He is board certified in internal medicine and certified in advanced cardiac life support.

M. Fareed Siddiqui, MD
Dr. Siddiqui earned his medical degree in India, his country of origin, in England and the United States. He finished a family medicine residency program at Southside Hospital on Long Island, N.Y. and is board certified in family medicine. Before joining Fauquier Health, Dr. Siddiqui was a hospitalist physician and family medicine physician with the Aroostook Medical Center in Maine, where he was also active in committee leadership positions.

Lisa Provance, NP
Lisa Provance is a board certified family nurse practitioner with 26 years of critical and emergency nursing experience. She is also an ACLS/PALS/BLS instructor and has a subspecialty certification in addiction and substance abuse management. She was a core member of the hospitalist team at Fair Oaks Hospital and transitioned to the Fauquier Hospitalist Group in 2008.

Hospital’s Fourth Floor Welcomes New Babies (and their moms)

Eleven rooms on Fauquier Hospital’s fourth floor have been waiting in readiness since they were completed over the summer. Patients were officially welcomed into the space for the first time on Wednesday, December 16. Mary Sauer of Culpeper and her new daughter Adeline were among the first four mom/baby pairs to christen the unit. The area, known as 4 West, will host moms and babies when the Family Birthing Center is full, or medical/surgical patients if those floors are at capacity.

Friday, December 4, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine More Accessible

Karen Remley, State Health Commissioner, acknowledging that cases of H1N1 have dropped off in December, emphasizes that history tells us that a resurgence is probable. The emphasis, she says, should be on getting vaccinated.

She added that the best way for residents "to identify sites with vaccine available is to call the Virginia Department of Health Inquiry Center at 1-877-ASK-VDH3 weekdays or to use the VDH website’s Flu Vaccine Locator tool at"

Information on H1N1 can be found on the Fauquier Health website.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Janice Foley is Top of the Tree Honoree at Lights for Life Celebration

The Fauquier Hospital Auxiliary, together with the Fauquier Health Foundation, will hold the annual Lights for Life Ceremony and the Donor Recognition Reception on December 2 from 6 to 8 p.m.
All Foundation donors and Lights for Life donors are invited to participate in the festivities.

Welcoming remarks will begin at 7 p.m., followed by the Lights for Life Ceremony, which will be viewed indoors this year. You can honor a special person or remember a loved one by placing a light on the spruce trees atop hospital hill to shine throughout the holiday season.

This year’s honoree will be Janice Foley, a registered nurse who worked at Fauquier Hospital from 1971 until 2008. Janice tended patients in the Emergency Department and in the Employee Health, Outpatient Special Procedures and Volunteer departments.

During her long tenure as a Fauquier Hospital nurse, Janice was honored with the Ruth Krusie award, the hospital’s highest honor, for “excellence in nursing.” Janice has lots of great stories to tell about the early years of her nursing career. She remembers a time when there was a shootout at a big country music concert in town. “I saw someone was shot, so I started to jump down and help. Bullets were flying. My husband pulled me back and said, ‘You can’t do that!’ ”

Janice’s friend and fellow nurse Bernice Pearson said with a smile, “Yes, Janice was one of those ‘eager’ nurses.”

Janice remembered another dramatic moment from the years when there wasn’t always a
doctor present in the Emergency Department. She and Bernice were working in the ER when they heard someone outside calling for help. They found a man hanging on to the wall in the parking lot. He had been shot in the leg and was AWOL from the service. They brought him in. Janice said, “We didn’t have any security back then. We figured if they can make it as far as the parking lot, that’s good enough for us.”

Janice and her husband Charles have two grown children and two grandchildren. She is a
member of Warrenton Baptist Church and is an active member at the church, a past member of the Christian Women’s Club.

Janice currently spends most of her time in North Carolina tending to her mother and in Richmond with her grandchildren.

Make One Change for Health

Fauquier Health offers a rigorous wellness program for its employees. The current focus is on "Make One Change" -- choosing just one habit to change at a time.

It's a good concept. Instead of making 27 resolutions about avoiding French fries and walking five miles every day, the idea is to pick just one change at a time. Focusing on just one shift in your lifestyle allows you to really conquer it and make it a part of your life ... then you're ready for another change.

(Lance Armstrong's site,, takes a similar approach. The site "dares" you to take on specific challanges, and offers lots of support and information to help.)

Once you get some good ideas about where to start making your one change, Fauquier Health can help. The LIFE Center offers nutrition counseling, in addition to a full fitness center.

If you like, try a week for free. Take classes, use the equipement, and get a start on your "one change."

Calendar of Events for December


Diabetes Self Management Training
Where: Fauquier Health LIFE Center, 419 Holiday Court, Warrenton
When: Classes are forming
Details: Covers diet, exercise, medication
Cost: Covered by Medicare and most insurance plans
Register: 540-316-2652;

Cancer Support Group
When: Meets the third Tuesday of every month
More info: Call an American Cancer Society representative at 540-878-2136 to confirm time and location.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Support Group
When: Meets the second Saturday of the month.
More info: Call the National MS Society at 800-344-4867 to confirm time and location.

Diabetes Support Group
Where: Fauquier Health LIFE Center
When: Meets the second Thursday of every other month, from 6 to 7 p.m.
More info: Call 540-316-2652 or e-mail for more information.

Tuesday, December 1
Support Group for New Moms
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Call to confirm class time.)
Details: Discussion group for new mothers of infants between the ages of 2 days and 6 months old
Cost: Free
Register: 540-316-3588

Wednesday, December 2
Lights for Life and Donor Recognition
Where: Sycamore rooms
When: 6 p.m.
Details: Janice Foley, retired nurse, will be this year’s Top of the Tree honoree as the holiday lights surrounding the hospital are lit up for the season. All health system donors are welcome to attend.

Saturday, December 5
First Aid; Infant and Child CPR
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
When: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Details: Includes infant and child CPR; basic first aid
Cost: $60
Register: 540-316-3588

Saturday, December 12
First Aid; Adult, Infant and Child CPR; and AED
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
When: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Details: Includes adult, infant and child CPR; basic first aid; and automated external defibrillator (AED) training.
Cost: $65.
Register: 540-316-3588

Tuesday, December 15
Support Group for New Moms
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Call to confirm class time.)
Details: Discussion group for new mothers of infants between the ages of 2 days and 6 months old
Cost: Free
Register: 540-316-3588

Couple Lends an Ear to Help Joint Replacement Patients

Carol and Frank Gilliam are a couple on a mission. They are Fauquier Hospital volunteers with a very specific job, to make the experience of joint replacement just a little bit better for our patients. Carol had both of her knees replaced at Fauquier Hospital's Center of Excellence for Joint Replacement, and Frank was her care partner throughout both surgeries.

As part of the joint replacement volunteer program, Carol and Frank visit current joint replacement patients to encourage and support them.

They can say, “We have been through this. We know it isn’t easy but you will feel so much better soon.”sometimes for a few minutes and other times for a half hour or more. Sometimes, they step in the room and can tell that a patient really isn’t up for a visit, so they respectfully slip out. Patients have responded very positively to their visits. Staff members are also grateful. “They are extra sets of eyes and ears.

If a patient is feeling down or upset, they let the staff know so the issue can be handled,” one third-floor nurse explained.

Home Health Care Services Among Best in Country

Fauquier Health Home Care Services has been selected as one of the 2009 Home Care Elite. This is an annual compilation of the most successful home health care providers in the U.S.

Home Care Services helps patients to recover from an illness or surgery, to learn how to manage conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, traumatic injuries, and to overcome joint and mobility issues and pain management problems. They also provide treatments like intravenous infusion or tube feeding therapy at home. The Home Care Services team is made up of nurses, home health aides, medical social workers and physical, occupational and speech therapists.

There were 9,000 agencies considered for the Home Care Elite; 2,200 were selected. Those 2,200 – including Fauquier Health’s Home Care Services – represent the top 25 percent of providers in the country for quality outcomes, quality improvement and financial performance measures.

Only eight hospital-based agencies in Virginia made the list; only 25 total – including independent for-profit agencies – were chosen in the commonwealth.

Home Care Services may be reached at 516.316.2700.

Pediatric Rehabilitation Opens Second Location

Fauquier Health’s Pediatric Rehabilitation department is now open at a second location. The Lake Manassas clinic is located at 7915 Lake Manassas Drive, Suite 101 in Gainesville, VA 20155.

This facility provides easier access for our families that live in the northern Fauquier area and in southern Prince William County. Currently, the clinic is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. The clinic can be reached at 540.316.2680.

This facility offers a spacious waiting room, including cable television for siblings (or parents) while they wait. There are three private treatment rooms with doors, and one glass-enclosed room that functions as a gym. Visitors can frequently see children using an obstacle course, hula hoops or scooters down the hallways.

Photos and more information can be found on the Fauquier Health physical therapy blog at

Missy Good Achieves Certification

Missy Good, director of development at Fauquier Health, has earned her CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) designation. In addition to having to demonstrate years of experience, dollars raised, campaign management and volunteer commitment to a committee, she had to pass a comprehensive exam.

Physical Therapist earns Doctorate

Dr. Terri Hallett, physical therapist with Fauquier Health, recently graduated from Shenandoah University with her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Dr. Hallet has been a physical therapist in Fauquier Health’s PMR department for the past 11 years. She originally graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Maryland in 1988.

Dr. Hallet is an experienced clinician who enjoys working with orthopedic and occupational injuries. She holds multiple specialized certifications within the physical therapy field. She is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, certified ergonomic assessment specialist, and certified functional capacity evaluator.

Fauquier Health Loses a Compassionate Healer

Fauquier Health employees, volunteers, physicians and the community lost a fine physician and a steadfast friend recently when George Ringholz, M.D, neurologist with River Oaks Neurology, passed away November 11. With a PhD and more than a decade of experience in clinical neuropsychology, and as a teaching faculty member in neurology, Dr. George Ringholz possessed one of the strongest medical backgrounds in his field. Board certified in neurology, Dr. Ringholz was a trusted medical advisor who thoroughly understood the needs of his patients.

Rodger Baker, CEO and president of Fauquier Health, said, “In his short time here on our medical staff, Dr. Ringholz touched many lives with his sincerity, generosity and kindness. He was the consummate professional, and will be sorely missed by all who worked with him.”

Remembering Dr. Ringholz
Those Fauquier Hospital clinicians who worked alongside Dr. Ringholz described him as a compassionate physician and an inspiring colleague. “He was an incredible person,” said Annette McVicker, nurse case manager in 2S/2W. “Dr. Ringholz had a huge impact on the hospital. He really valued the nurses, treated us all as colleagues. If we had a concern about a patient, we could always pick up the phone and he’d drop everything to talk to us.

“When we had a truly critical patient, he was a calming influence. I remember the first time we used TPA (a blood clot-busting medicine administered by IV). We had never done it before and he spent the day with us. Our patient did great. Now we do it all the time in ICU. Dr. Ringholz brought us to a new level.”

Annette recalled another instance when it was necessary to put a patient’s brain to sleep because it kept seizing. “The patient needed a 24-hour EEG and Dr. Ringholz was there. He was subtly teaching us, empowering us.”

And Annette has another reason to remember Dr. Ringholz fondly. “He was my doctor. I had a traumatic brain injury and he put my head back together. He always made me feel like I was the only patient he had.”

Azman Ghadam, an RN on the second floor, said that when he was in nursing school, Dr. Ringholz took him along when he did assessments and took time to explain every normal and abnormal finding. “Dr. Ringholz was a perfect teacher; with every neurological assessment I remember his calmness and reassuring effect on staff, patients, and families. He was always approachable, so easy to ask questions.

Danish Shahmehdi, RN, said that Dr. Ringholz was particularly great with families. “He took time to explain things.”

Terri Schick, RN, agreed. “He had a great bedside manner. He had a young cancer patient and spent a lot of time with that patient and the family, answering questions and listening.”

Fran Norman, director of process improvement, worked closely with Dr. Ringholz on Fauquier Health’s Stroke Program. “Dr. Ringholz was a kind and gentle person who gave so much, to so many. I will always remember his calm demeanor and comforting laugh.”

Annette McVicker, with tears in her eyes, stated it for all those who knew Dr. Ringholz: “I’ll miss him, very much.”

In Lieu of Flowers
Dr. Ringholz’s family made the following request, for those who would like to remember him.
“The folks at Johns Hopkins were incredible during George’s brief, but brave, battle with pancreatic cancer. If you would like to honor George and help fight this terrible disease,
1. Make a donation payable to: Johns Hopkins University.
2. Indicate on the memo line of the check that the donation is being made in George’s name.
3. Mail the donation to:
Ralph H. Hruban, M.D.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
401 North Broadway, Weinberg 2242
Baltimore, MD 21231-2410
4. Please include the name and address of where you would
like acknowledgments to be sent (or call 410-955-9132).
Johns Hopkins will send us a complete list of the names
and address of the donors.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Voice of America Records H1N1 Preparedness

Voice of America visited small town America last week to see how Fauquier Hospital is managing the H1N1 virus. Although our health district -- the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District -- has been the hardest hit in the state, Fauquier Hospital has been handling the pandemic well.

At the H1N1 virus's October peak, the hospital saw 50 flu patients a day, which added considerably to the Emergency Department's workload. But a seperate flu clinic and careful management of visitors to the hospital staved off the worst ramifications. In talking with other facilities, I find we are among the best prepared. It's comforting to know.

Readiness is all.

Numbers of flu patients have decreased significantly for now, so the separate clinic has been suspended. Visitor restrictions remain in place. Health experts expect a resurgence in flu patients before the flu season is over, so we are staying alert.

Click below for a peak at the Voice of America news piece on Fauquier Hospital. Dr. Tam Ly, Fauquier Health's infectious disease specialist and Tracy Turman, in charge of Emergency Preparedness, are featured in the video. Several patients are interviewed too, including an adorable -- though feverish -- infant.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Community Honors Veterans Wednesday

On Wednesday, November 11 at 11 a.m., community members will honor members of the armed services at the War Memorial on the Loop Road on Hospital Hill.

This Veteran's Day ceremony is an annual event on Hospital Hill and will be particularly meaningful following the tragedy at Fort Hood last week.

The administration and employees of Fauquier Health welcome those in the community who would like to pay tribute to all of the service men and women who serve our country.

FluMist Available to High-Risk Populations in Fauquier

The Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District will offer free H1N1 FluMist vaccine in two clinics on Wednesday, November 11.

They will be held at:
-- Liberty High School in Bealeton from 8 a.m. to noon
-- Germanna Community College’s Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper from 3 to 7 p.m.

The clinics are targeted to those high risk populations that are eligible for vaccination with the nasal mist vaccine.
-- Healthy children and young adults from 2-24 years old.
-- Healthy individuals under 50 years old who share a household with infants younger than 6 months old.

The FluMist vaccine is not right for everyone. Pregnant women, those with asthma, heart, lung or kidney diseases, immune disorders or other chronic health conditions must receive the injectable vaccine. Those who are not eligible for the FluMist should ask their primary care doctor about the availability of the injectable vaccine.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finding Answers to Questions about the H1N1 Flu and the H1N1 Vaccine

Here are a couple of resources to use in your quest for the very latest information on the H1N1 flu and the vaccine.

• 1.877.ASK.VDH3 (1.877.275.8343)-- This is the statewide VDH hotline that has been set up to manage questions and inquires on H1N1 influenza. The number is staffed by physicians and nurses and are able to field questions from the general public and from healthcare professionals.

Those answering the phones are especially qualified to talk about vaccine availability, delivery, registration, etc.

They will not be providing medical advise over the phone but they will be able to provide information on where individuals can be vaccinated and other information.

They will have access to translation services so they will be able to field calls from non-English speakers. The hotline is staffed during normal business hours but they have the capability to expand their hours of operations as needed. -- The three health departments of Virginia, Maryland and DC have launched this new website to provide information to the residents of the NCR on where they can get H1N1 vaccination.

The Virginia section of the website includes specific locations in the region where H1N1 vaccine will be available to the public -- including pharmacies, big box stores and community clinics. The website also includes information to answer the question: "What to do if you get the flu?"

NY Times: H1N1 Vaccine Safe as Any Other Flu Vaccine

Warrenton pediatrician Dr. Joshua Jakum of Piedmont Pediatrics sent me this link about the safety of the H1N1 vaccine. The link takes you to an editorial in the New York Times.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 Triggers Visitation Restrictions at Fauquier Hospital

In response to the rapid and pervasive spread of the H1N1 virus this flu season, Fauquier Hospital is temporarily restricting visitors.

Rodger Baker, CEO and president of Fauquier Health, said, “The spread of seasonal and H1N1 influenza in our community requires that we take special measures to protect our patients and staff, including limiting their exposure to visitors who may have influenza. It is difficult to determine who may be infected with an influenza virus because people can be contagious before they start showing symptoms of flu, including fever and coughing.”

“We hope these precautions will help to slow the spread of H1N1 in Fauquier County.”

Temporary Visitor Restrictions
• Instead of unrestricted, open visiting hours, there will be two blocks of visiting times: from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
• No visitors under the age of 18 will be permitted.
• Visitors will be limited to two per patient room.
• Visitors must enter through the front doors of the hospital or (when the front doors are locked, at night) through the Emergency Room.
• Those who exhibit influenza-like symptoms will not be able to visit patient rooms.
• Special restrictions are in place for visitors to the Family Birthing Center. Only spouses and significant others of the mothers and grandparents of the babies will be permitted. Visitors who come to the Family Birthing Center will be asked to call into the unit from an in-house phone before being admitted.
• In the adult critical care and oncology units, visitors will be limited to spouses, significant others, parents or those directly responsible for a patient’s care.
• In the pediatric units, parents will be exempt from visiting hour restrictions.
• Some visitors may be asked to wear masks and/or other protective clothing while visiting.

Changes in the Emergency Department
Fauquier Hospital’s Emergency Department, like others throughout the region, has seen a marked increase in activity in the last week because of the H1N1 flu.

On a typical weekday, Emergency Department staff can expect to see anywhere from 70 to 90 patients. On Tuesday, October 20, more than 120 patients came through the doors, 46 of them with influenza-like symptoms. Weekends tend to be even busier.

Beginning Friday, October 23, in order to speed the flow of patients through the Emergency Department and facilitate evaluation and treatment, those with flu-like symptoms will enter the Emergency Department through a separate door near the main ED entrance. The initiative will serve to isolate potential H1N1 sufferers and protect other patients from infection. The separate ED entrances will be in use between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Once in the Emergency Department, those who have influenza-like symptoms will be hosted in an isolated unit, apart from the rest of the ED and the rest of the hospital.

The unit is equipped with special “air scrubbers” that sanitize the air.

Dr. Joseph Servideo, chairman of the Emergency Department, emphasized that if residents experience mild to moderate influenza-like symptoms – a fever higher than 100 degrees, coughing, sore throat, congestion, vomiting or diarrhea – it will not be helpful to come to the Emergency Department. “Stay home, take pain and fever reducers and drink plenty of fluids. In a week to ten days, you should be feeling better,” he advised. “Those with severe symptoms -- shortness of breath, repeated vomiting, dehydration or a fever above 103 -- or those with serious underlying conditions should seek medical attention from their doctors or at the ED.”

Local Pediatricians Talk about Kids and H1N1

Last Friday was a very hectic day at Piedmont Pediatrics. Dr. Dennis Rustom blamed the H1N1 flu. “We are seeing some cases here, but mostly I have been spending my days talking about it, reassuring parents and discussing what to do if they see symptoms in their children.

“More people are getting the message now: If your child has a fever, even a low-grade one, have them stay home from school – and keep them home until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours. Manage the coughing and aches and pains with Tylenol and Motrin, and keep them hydrated.”

Dr. Joshua Jakum, also of Piedmont Pediatrics, said that most children with flu will get better in a week or so, and don’t need to see the doctor unless there is labored breathing, a danger of dehydration because of severe vomiting or diarrhea, or if the child’s skin is very pale or blue-looking.

The teenage population is being hit hard, according to Dr. Rustom. “Teenagers tend to let things go. Parents don’t know they are sick at first. By the time we see them, they feel like they’ve been hit by a truck. With kids, just like adults, sometimes it’s ‘the bigger they are, the harder they fall.’ They can feel pretty bad, but they are coming out of it just fine.”

Both pediatricians strongly recommend that children get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available in the next couple of weeks. (See for details on flu availability.)

Dr. Jakum acknowledges that there is a fear of developing Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome (a severe neurological disorder) or other side effects from the flu vaccine. He responded, “You are more likely to experience Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome as a result of getting the flu than from getting the vaccine. We’ve been making safe vaccines for many years and have a lot of data, a lot of experience with it. The H1N1 vaccine appears to be as safe and effective as any seasonal flu shot.”

Dr. Rustom added, “Some people are afraid that they rushed the vaccine out too quickly, without enough testing, but thousands of people have taken the vaccine with very good results. If parents are comfortable with the regular seasonal flu vaccine, they should not have reservations about the H1N1 flu vaccine. Get your kids vaccinated. The benefits far outweigh any possible negatives. I’m going to get it; my kids are going to get it.”

Other questions Dr. Rustom is answering in his office are about testing and about Tamiflu (an anti-viral medication that can shorten the duration of the H1N1 flu). “We have to be very, very careful about using Tamiflu. We are concerned that if it is used too much, the flu strain may become resistant to it and we won’t have it as a tool to use in the most severe cases. Some practices are giving it out like candy, but we are administering it only when there are underlying conditions, like neurological disorders, diabetes, cystic fibrosis or very severe asthma.”

Dr. Jakum agreed, “The danger is in using Tamiflu so much that we end up having a drug-resistant super bug on our hands. We need to reserve it for the highest-risk patients. Not all pediatric patients will get Tamiflu.”

The age of the child is also a factor in how the flu needs to be treated. Very young infants are in the high-risk category. Dr. Rustom said, “We had a 4-month-old baby we hospitalized and put on Tamiflu. The baby was completely fine within 24 hours and was sent home.”

Dr. Jakum confirmed that, “We are especially cautious with the little ones, up to 24 months old.”
As for testing, Dr. Jakum explained that the tests for H1N1 "can be inaccurate and we don't always test. Instead we rely on our clinical judgement."

Dr. Rustom said, “If you or your kids have the flu, assume it’s the H1N1 flu. Ninety-nine percent of the flu out there is H1N1.”

Drs. Rustom and Jakum agree that it’s hard for parents to see their children sick, and that worrying is natural. Dr. Jakum said, “A lot of parents want treatment for their children, but the best opportunity we have is prevention: Hand-washing, coughing and sneezing into a tissue or into the fold of your elbow, and getting vaccinated.”

Dr. Rustom concluded, “The healthier you are, the easier time you are going to have if you get the flu. As I tell my parents every day, “make sure your kids get enough rest, healthy food and exercise. A healthy immune system can fight this off in four or five days.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Societal Changes Necessary to Battle Obesity

In light of Dr. David Katz's speech at the recent Planetree Conference and his views that consumers need better tools to be able to determine whether or not a product is "healthy," an article on the Yahoo news site this morning seems particularly timely. It's a story about how the FDA is looking at food labels and cracking down on those that are deliberately misleading about nutritional content.

The article even suggests that products be marked with a single symbol so consumers can tell at a glance how nutritional a product is ... sounds like Dr. Katz's NuVal system.

Click on the link to read the whole article.

Dr. Katz's message is that we need societal changes to battle worldwide obesity. Although a proponent of personal responsibility, he claims that the food industry needs to make it easier for consumers to make good choices, instead of hiding behind colorful packaging and catch phrases.

As a health care system, Fauquier Health is a strong proponent of wellness. Our LIFE fitness center offers nutritional sessions with certified dietician Aren Dodge, as well as fitness memberships. Call 540-316-2640 for more information.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fauquier Hospital Restricts Visitors to Family Birthing Center

In response to the rapid and pervasive spread of the H1N1 virus this flu season, Fauquier Hospital will temporarily restrict visitors to its Family Birthing Center as of October 14. No visitors under 18 years old, except siblings, will be permitted in the fourth-floor birthing unit.

Research has shown that expectant mothers, women who have recently given birth, and infants are particularly at risk for serious illness from flu. The
Centers for Disease Control has reported that 76 children have died of flu-related illnesses in the U.S. since April. Twenty-nine of these have been reported since August 30. The CDC also reports, that “19 flu-related pediatric deaths were reported this week; 16 of these deaths were confirmed 2009 H1N1 and 3 were … likely to be 2009 H1N1.”

Addressing risks to pregnant women, the CDC reports: “Severe illnesses among pregnant woman and infants have been reported in this outbreak.”

Bethann Thomas, director of the Family Birthing Center, said, “Fauquier Hospital is dedicated to keeping all of its patients safe and healthy, and is placing restrictions on visitors to protect its most vulnerable populations. Those who come to the hospital to visit new moms will be asked to call into the unit from an in-house phone before being admitted.”

Thomas, who is expecting a baby in the next couple of weeks, added, “Right now, my baby’s father is sick with the flu, so if I go into labor while he is still ill, he won’t be with me in the hospital. We’ll find a way to use Skype or some other technology for him to be a part of the delivery, but we want to make sure the baby and I are safe from the flu.”

Rodger Baker, CEO and president of Fauquier Health, emphasized, “We encourage all visitors to be aware of the health risks to our new mothers and infants. Anyone – child or adult – who is not feeling well should refrain from visiting the hospital, particularly the Family Birthing Center. We thank residents for their understanding during this pandemic.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Find Reliable Information on H1N1 Vaccine Safety

There have been a number of headlines recently about fear over the H1N1 vaccine. The doctor who went on television to say he wouldn't give his kids the vaccine got a lot of attention. The large numbers of medical experts who are urging folks to get the vaccine ... not so much.

I would encourage residents -- parents in particular -- who are concerned about the vaccine's safety to turn off the sound bites and do some real research into the safety trials of this particular vaccine. Make up your own mind, but go to the medical information instead of relying on what your neighbor heard from a friend about the flu vaccine given in the 1970s.

This link is a good one for reliable information about vaccine safety. It's from the Centers for Disease Control:

And here is a great article that makes good common sense, stating the case for getting an H1N1 vaccine:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Heading Home

I woke up this morning, my last in Baltimore, feeling refreshed and energetic. I had been thinking a lot about Dr. David Katz's keynote speech at the Planetree conference the day before and his simple advice: Eat. Not too much. Mostly plants. And his entreaty to move more. It's a very Planetree idea: Prevent disease before it starts with exercise and healthy eating.

I set out to enjoy a brisk walk around Baltimore's inner harbor and a healthy breakfast. One of these was easier to manage than the other.

It was a beautiful, breezy day at the harbor. The sun was warm and the clouds few. It felt good to walk after several days of sitting in meetings.

I opted for Panera Bread for breakfast -- a strawberry smoothie and a yogurt parfait. Sounds healthy, right? Wrong.

One of Dr. Katz's points was that just because a product looks healthy, and the label claims it's healthy, doesn't necessarily mean it is healthy. The Yogurt parfait sign claimed whole grain oats and 4 grams of fiber, but left out the 12 grams of fat and 29 grams of sugar. A close look at the nutritional information for a grilled breakfast sandwich of egg and cheese revealed that the two items were not that different nutritionally. The sandwich offered a few more calories and a lot more sodium, but only one gram of sugar and 18 grams of protein.

The smoothie numbers were even more surprising, with almost 300 calories and a whopping 48 grams of sugar.

Dr. Katz recognizes that our society makes it very difficult to make nutritious choices. He advocates that everyone become a "food detective" and look beyond the front of the box to the small print on the nutrition label.

As a step toward addressing this societal deficiency, he and other nutrition scientists have created a system called NuVal. The Boston Globe reported last month, "Using an algorithm, NuVal takes the 'good’' nutrients, such as fiber, folate, and vitamins, and divides them by the 'not-so-good’ ingredients, including sugar, sodium, and trans fats to determine the score. Items are not weighed equally, as it depends on their effect on health outcomes. For example, trans fats can lower a NuVal score significantly...

"The NuVal system is available at more than 500 supermarkets across the country. The company expects to more than double that over the next year and expand into chains beyond Price Chopper in Massachusetts. So far, NuVal has rated over 30,000 products across the supermarket, including beverages, dairy, produce, meats and more. NuVal scores are on the shelf tags, next to the price of items, so consumers can calculate immediately how much nutrition they are getting for the price."

It's a pretty interesting idea and if it catches on, might go a long way toward demystifying food labels and making it easier to choose healthy foods.

Until the NuVal system makes it to the rest of the country, Dr. Katz says that it's best to choose foods with the fewest ingredients on their labels -- broccoli, for instance has only one, while some breakfast cereals have dozens. And watch out for partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup.

Please understand, I'm not picking on Panera Bread. They use organic non-fat yogurt in their smoothies and offer other good choices. And Panera provides their nutrition information online and in the store for anyone who asks for it. Not all restaurants do.

It really just means we all have to be aware and look beyond advertisements to find the best choices for ourselves and our families.

I saw a sign on my loop back to the hotel that made me smile. It was a sign for the Baltimore Public Works Museum. Over the sign, it read in smaller letters, "The Surprisingly Interesting..."

It pays to read the fine print.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Spirit of Planetree Winners Celebrate

It was a good time today for Fauquier Health staffers at the Planetree conference. There were several highlights.

Dr. David L. Katz, who was recently in the running for surgeon general, gave a keynote speech on obesity and its disastrous effects on our health -- our family's, our country's and our world's.
Dr. Katz is a renowned scientist, a prolific author and a dynamic speaker.

He made a convincing case for eating less and moving more. His website is and it's a must for anyone who is concerned about the health-destroying effects of obesity.

The final keynote speakers of the conference were billed as "The Three Doctors." An internist (Dr. Rameck Hunt), an emergency room doctor (Dr. Sampson Davis), and a dentist (Dr. George Jenkins), grew up together on the dangerous streets of Newark, New Jersey, poor but lucky to have one another. With a few breaks, some kind help along the way and their mutual bond, the three all reached their dreams.

In addition to their medical practices, they spend their time giving back to the community by inspiring other young people to reach beyond what they see in front of them to find something better. They are proponents of patient-centered care and try to live by those principles every day.

The presentation was sincere and endearing and was a favorite of those attending. Their website is

The finale of the day was the presentation of the Spirit of Planetree awards.

Winners from Fauquier Hospital were:
Dr. Alireza Tajick, Physician Champion award
Wendy Greenwood, Caregiver award

Winners from the Fauquier Health Rehabilitation & Nursing Center were:
Dr. Donna Vannata, Physician Champion award
Melanie Phillips, Caregiver award

Lisa Spitzer, Fauquier Health Concierge, was given a special Family, Friends and Social Support award for her outstanding concierge program.

Lots of cheering and smiles ensued during the award ceremony. It's several hours after the banquet now, but I think Lisa is still teary-eyed over the honor.

For more photos of the banquet, see the Fauquier Health Facebook page. Go to and search for Fauquier Health. (While you're there, become a fan.)

Techology and Patient Care

I attended three different Planetree seminars yesterday about technology and patient care, all from different perspectives. The last was on the best sites to find accurate and up-to-date medical information.

There is lots of information out there, but which sites have science-backed, confirmable articles?

I will start sharing these through this blog once I get back on my home turf at Fauquier Health.

(By the way, the food got "bigger" yesterday, so I'm a happy camper. Still healthy stuff, just a little more of it.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Planetree Members Visit Fauquier Health

At the Planetree conference, I spoke to some folks from other healthcare faclities who went on a tour of Fauquier Hospital, the LIFE Center and the Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Those of us who work for Fauquier Health sometimes forget how special our facilities are. It's nice to be reminded.

Folks from San Diego and Cleveland were among those who visited, as well as a group from Japan. Those I spoke to were very impressed by our beautiful, soothing environment for healing.
They loved the Bistro on the Hill and even took a turn at a Zumba class at the LIFE Center.

Day 1 at the Planetree Conference

The Planetree Model

Since its founding as a nonprofit organization, Planetree has pioneered methods for personalizing, humanizing and demystifying the healthcare experience for patients and their families.

The Planetree model of care is a patient-centered, holistic approach to healthcare, promoting mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and physical healing. It empowers patients and families through the exchange of information and encourages healing partnerships with caregivers. It seeks to maximize positive healthcare outcomes by integrating optimal medical therapies and incorporating art and nature into the healing environment.

Planetree continues to innovate, broadening our collective understanding of the concept of healing, and continuing our network’s expansion so that a growing number of patients and caregivers can experience the dignity, compassion, and humanity that are hallmarks of the Planetree philosophy.

I am in Baltimore, attending 2009 Planetree Conference on behalf of Fauquier Health. It's three days of smiles, sincerity and good feelings. So many great folks here, striving to improve their health facilities under the patient-centered care banner.

But the food is small. Tiny bran muffins for breakfast, tiny Portobello sandwiches and really tiny crab cakes for the dinner buffet. Tasty but miniature. And no dessert!

Planetree folks want everyone to be healthy and happy, so I guess they are watching out for our waistlines.

Sigh… What happened to the good old days, when a business conference meant gravy with everything and chocolate mousse for dessert?

I’ve never been to a Planetree conference before and it feels different than every other conference I’ve ever been to. As a former journalist, I’ve attended many newspaper conferences, where the competition between people was palpable. Attendees guarded their best ideas and talked a lot about their accomplishments. The jargon they used was straight out of journalism textbooks, and I always felt like a little fish in a big pool -- of piranahs.

The Planetree conference is more about sharing good ideas than about hoarding them, more about cooperation than competition. The attendees are really smart and accomplished, but they treat you like you are smart and accomplished, too. It’s a “we’re all in this together” mentality.

The “let’s make the world a better place” emphasis is very liberating. No one is here to prove they are better or more important than anyone else, so it frees me up to just soak in all the good information and enjoy the seminars.

It hasn’t all been smiles, of course. I attended a great talk on emergency preparedness, with an emphasis on the H1N1 crisis. We’re all hoping the pandemic won’t reach its potential, but we all need to be vigilant in preparing for that potential.

A little scary.

I could have used some chocolate mousse to take the edge off, but had to settle for a keynote speech from Naomi Judd, who talked in her self-deprecating hillbilly way about her recovery from hepatitis C. Did you know she used to work as a nurse?

Her talk was uplifting, but not very filling.

Good thing I have cookies in my hotel room. Planetree is also about comfort, right? And for me, cookies are comfortable.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fauquier Health's First Television Commercials

We at Fauquier Health are pretty excited about our very first television commercials.

They are a hoot!

There are two -- you can click on them here to take a look or check them out on local cable channels. Look for them on CNN, Fox News, the Food Network and TLC.

Family Birthing Center commercial

Fauquier Health commercial

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fauquier Health's H1N1 Summit Held September 17

The Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance has been working since early summer on plans to mitigate the effects of the H1N1 pandemic flu, which the state has recently classified as "widespread." In one initiative, the Alliance gave its 12 member hospitals the opportunity to sponsor a community education event about H1N1. Fauquier Health jumped at the chance to organize an evening and became the first health system to stage an event.
Fauquier Health teamed up with the Virginia Department of Health to offer the community an H1N1 Summit for Caregivers. More than 100 physicians, nursing home leaders, government officials and hospital staff attended the three-hour forum, held on September 17 at Fauquier Springs Country Club.
It was a good night. I have been immersed in H1N1 education for months, and I learned a lot. Presentations combined the technical with the common sense. The latest research was shared, and lines of communication were established. The audience was very engaged, eager for good information and for strategies for coping with the pandemic.

Rodger Baker, Fauquier Health’s president and CEO started off the evening with a few words of welcome. He was followed by Dr. Mark Levine (at right), the Virginia Department of Health’s deputy commissioner of Emergency Preparedness and Response, who gave an illuminating overview of the H1N1 pandemic in the commonwealth.

Fauquier Health’s vice president of Support Services, Tracy Turman, shared details on how Fauquier Health is preparing to cope with a possible surge in flu patients during the coming months.

Dr. Joseph Servideo, head of the Emergency Department, talked about the potential effect of the pandemic on ED services. Dr. Tam Ly, infectious disease physician with Fauquier Health
Physician Services, touched on prevention and treatment of the H1N1 flu.

Dorothy Seibert, Fauquier Health’s specialist in infection control, offered advice to everyone on keeping patients and employees healthy.

A lively question and answer period concluded the evening, with Dr. Dana Bradshaw of the Fauquier office of the Health Department joining the other speakers. Physicians and physician office staff inquired about everything from infection control to legal liability for the vaccines they would be giving.
There are those who claim that the H1H1 flu has generated a lot of hype. They ask "What's the big deal?"
It's true that symptoms of the illness are proving to be relatively mild in most cases. But H1N1 is very contagious, as we've seen on college campuses all over the country. If the strain were to become more virulent than it is now, I think we might see more clearly that the concern over H1N1 has been justified.
We'll all hoping the H1N1 virus will remain relatively mild, but in any case, it's best to be prepared.

Asthma Camp for Kids and Parents

Even though asthma cannot be cured, it can almost always be managed. The better children and their parents understand asthma and its treatment, the better they will be able to control it.

During a free half-day event on Saturday, October 17, parents will have an opportunity to hear educational seminars from physicians and respiratory therapists who are experts in pediatric asthma treatment. Children ages 7 to 11 years old will play games to learn how their lungs work; what triggers an asthma episode; how to use medication safely; and how to use a peak flow meter.

Educational seminars for parents will be presented by Dr. Michael Amster of Warrenton Pediatrics; Dr. Suzanne Hayes of Piedmont Pediatrics; and Dr. Margaret Jeffries of Child Health Associates. Equipment demonstrations will be provided by the Fauquier Health Home Medical Store.

After completing the educational activities, children are invited to enjoy some fun at the Green Zone Carnival.

Asthma Camp will take place in Fauquier Hospital’s Sycamore rooms from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration is required; call 540-316-3588.

Calendar of Events for October


Diabetes Self Management Training
Where: Fauquier Health LIFE Center, 419 Holiday Court, Warrenton
When: Classes are forming
Details: Covers diet, exercise, medication
Cost: Covered by Medicare and most insurance plans
Register: 540-316-2652;

Cancer Support Group
When: Meets the third Tuesday of every month
More info: Call an American Cancer Society representative at 540-878-2136 to confirm time and location.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Support Group
When: Meets the second Saturday of the month.
More info: Call the National MS Society at 800-344-4867 to confirm time and location.

Diabetes Support Group
Where: Fauquier Health LIFE Center
When: Meets the second Thursday of every other month, from 6 to 7 p.m.
More info: Call 540-316-2652 or e-mail for more information.

Saturday, October 3
Diabetes Product Fair
Where: Fauquier Health LIFE Center
When: 1 to 4 p.m.
Details: Event will offer information on diabetes-related products, including meters, insulin edications,
pumps, mail-order pharmacies and educational materials. Speak with a diabetes educator at an
“Ask the Educator” booth.
Cost: Free
More info: Call 540-316-2652 or e-mail

Tuesday, October 6

Support Group for New Moms
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Call to confirm class time.)
Details: Discussion group for new mothers of infants between the ages of 2 days and 6 months old
Cost: Free
Register: 540-316-3588

Thursday, October 8
My Child Has Just Been Diagnosed with Asthma — Now What?
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
When: 7 p.m.
Details: Dr. Jyothi Gadde, asthma and allergy specialist, and Dr. Maria Juanpere, pediatrician, will explain the asthma facts parents need to know, including what causes asthma, asthma treatment and lifestyle changes.
Registration required.
Register: 540-316-3588

Saturday, October 10
First Aid; Adult, Infant and Child CPR; and AED
Where: Fauquier Hospital Chestnut room
When: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Details: Includes adult, infant and child CPR; basic first aid; and automated external defibrillator (AED) training.
Cost: $65.
Register: 540-316-3588

Monday, October 12
Your Childbirth Experience
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: Four-session class – Mondays, October 12, 19, 26 and November 2, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Details: Discussion-oriented class goes over anatomy, labor and delivery, breathing
and relaxation techniques, medical interventions, cesarean delivery and postpartum concerns. Expectant parents should attend this class during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Cost: $120 per couple.
Register: 540-316-3588

Tuesday, October 13
American Red Cross Blood Drive
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wednesday, October 14
Blood Pressure Screening
Where: Fauquier Hospital lobby
When: noon to 2 p.m.
Cost: Free

Thursday, October 15
Baby Care Essentials
Where: Fauquier Health Family Birthing Center
When: 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Details: Taught by certified childbirth educators. Topics include diapering, bathing, cord care, circumcision care, feeding methods and infant safety. Listen to a presentation from pediatrician Michael Amster, M.D., board certified in pediatrics.
Cost: $20 per person.
Register: 540-316-3588

Medicare and Medicaid Benefits Counseling
Where: Fauquier Hospital’s Chestnut room
When: 1 to 3 p.m.
Details: Receive Medicare and Medicaid benefits counseling from Virginia Insurance Counseling and
Assistance program counselors. They will help explain Medicare for individuals older than 65; disabled beneficiaries under 65; Medicare Parts A, B and D; and Medicaid Savings programs. Registration
Register: 540-316-3588

Saturday, October 17
Asthma Camp: Tools for Asthma Management
Where: Fauquier Health Sycamore rooms
When: 9 a.m. to noon
Details: During this free half-day event, parents will have an opportunity to hear educational seminars from
physicians and respiratory therapists who are experts in pediatric asthma treatment. Children ages 7 to 11
years old will play games to learn how their lungs work; what triggers an asthma episode; how to use
medication safely; and how to use a peak flow meter. After completing the educational activities, children
are invited to enjoy some FUN at the Green Zone
Carnival. Registration required.
Register: 540-316-3588

Tuesday, October 20
Support Group for New Moms
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Call to confirm class time.)
Details: Discussion group for new mothers of infants between the ages of 2 days and 6 months old
Cost: Free
Register: 540-316-3588

Breastfeeding Made Simple
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Details: Obstetrical nurse lactation consultants will teach about breastfeeding benefits
and techniques.
Cost: $25
Register: 540-316-3588

Wednesday, October 21
Heart Health
Where: Fauquier Hospital’s Sycamore rooms
When: 7:00 p.m.
Details: Cardiologist Ara Maranian, M.D., will speak on “Coronary and Peripheral Arterial Disease: Who is
at Risk?”
Cost: Free
Details: Call 540-316-3588

AARP Driver Safety Program
Where: Fauquier Hospital’s Sycamore rooms
When: Wednesday and Friday, October 21 and 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: Taught by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), this is a
refresher for motorists age 50 and older. Participants must attend both days.
Cost: $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members.
Registration: 540-316-3588.

Saturday, October 24
Babysitters’ Training Course
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore room
When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Details: American Red Cross-certified babysitting course teaches leadership and caregiving skills, how to prevent and manage emergencies, first aid, how to interview for babysitting jobs and more. The class is for kids ages 11 to 16. Bring a bagged lunch; drinks and cookies will be provided.
Cost: $40.
Register: 540-316-3588

Your Childbirth Experience
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: Weekend class – Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Details: Discussion-oriented class goes over anatomy, labor and delivery, breathing
and relaxation techniques, medical interventions, cesarean delivery and postpartum concerns. Expectant parents should attend this class during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Cost: $120 per couple.
Register: 540-316-3588

Fauquier Health Employee Picnic a Success

Fauquier Health’s annual Employee Picnic was a huge success, featuring a “green” employee gift, the debut of a Fauquier Health video and a dunking booth starring the Senior Management Team.

New FitFirst Program Aims at Improving Surgical Outcomes

As mounting evidence shows a clear connection between fitness and surgical outcomes, the Fauquier Health LIFE Center announces a new fitness and nutrition program tailored for patients facing elective surgery.

FitFirst is designed as a 12-week program, but patients without that much time before surgery still can benefit. The program begins with an assessment by an exercise physiologist and a consultation with a physical therapist to FitFirst: Fauquier Health’s New Preoperative Fitness Program ensures a program tailored for each individual’s needs and abilities. If appropriate, physical therapy may be recommended for some patients instead.

FitFirst is free for LIFE Center members. Non-members pay $15 a week, which covers three visits to the gym or to the warm-water therapy pool. There are no contracts to sign.

Sign Up for FitFirst Today!
Whether you want tocome for one week or 12, call 540-316-2640 for complete FitFirst
program information.

Cardiologist to Speak on Healthy Lifestyles

Dr. Christopher Leet, cardiologist, will speak on “60 is the New 40: How Lifestyle Keeps Us Young,” on September 30. The health lecture will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Middleburg Community Center, 300 West Washington Street in Middleburg.

The session is sponsored by Fauquier Health and is free to the public. Registration is requested and may be arranged by calling 540-316-3588.

Come learn about lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart attack and stroke.

New Rheumatology Doctor Brings Needed Services to Area

Everyone complains about their aches and pains, but some people have it worse than others. Rheumatic diseases, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, are often chronic and can have far-ranging effects on a person’s ability to participate in daily activities. And because rheumatic diseases are often difficult to treat, the emotional impact can take a toll on a patient’s work, marital, family or social life. To make matters worse, finding a specialist to treat a chronic rheumatic condition can be a real challenge, and can result in agonizingly long wait times and lengthy commutes.

Meeting our community’s needs
Fauquier Health recently conducted research to identify the medical needs of the local community, and the results revealed an immediate need for rheumatology services. To address this need, the health system added rheumatologist Nandini Chhitwal, M.D., to its physician staff.

“There is such a tremendous need for a rheumatologist in the Warrenton area is because the field is still an emerging specialty, and therefore, there aren’t very many of us to begin with,” explains Dr. Chhitwal. “And even though there are a number of rheumatologists up in the Northern Virginia area, once you travel outside of that area, the number drops dramatically. For patients who are not feeling well, it’s a major inconvenience to have to drive 40 minutes or more each way in heavy traffic to see a physician.”

Treating a wide range of problems
Rheumatologists diagnose and treat painful disorders that affect the joints, muscles, connective tissue and soft tissue around the joints and bones. Arthritis is the most common of these disorders, and Dr. Chhitwal treats everything from the regular mechanical (wear-and-tear) type of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, to the more inflammatory types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

“I also deal with the whole spectrum of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, scleroderma and sjogren’s, as well as the rarer types of immune disorders, such as vasculitis. And I treat a variety of disease processes, including musculoskeleteal diseases and pain disorders, such as myofacial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and vitamin D deficiency.”

The perfect fit
Across the country, rheumatologists are in great demand and have many choices when deciding where to set up practice. Dr. Chhitwal chose Fauquier for several reasons: she grew up nearby, her entire family lives in the area, and she was impressed by the beauty and charm of our quiet community. But most importantly, she liked the health system.

“The main reason I chose this area is because it felt like the right fit. Everyone here is amazing, and the staff shows a great amount of compassion and respect. That’s very important to me because it fosters the perfect type of working environment. And I like that the health system’s patient care philosophy meshes so well with my own.”

Dr. Chhitwal’s patient care philosophy
Fauquier Health’s Planetree patient-centered philosophy demands that patients’ needs always come first. Dr. Chhitwal agrees. She also believes communication is the most important part of the doctor-patient relationship.

“For me, listening to the patients and hearing what they have to say is the top priority. Some patients don’t completely understand why they were referred to me, so I always try to make sure they understand those reasons right up front. And once I figure out what my patients are looking for, I can determine what is in their best interests as far as their medical issues are concerned.”

About Nandini Chhitwal, MD
Dr. Chhitwal is a board-certified physician. She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical College of Virginia, completed her internal medicine internship and residency program at Emory University, and completed a rheumatology fellowship at Emory University.

Prior to joining Fauquier Health, Dr. Chhitwal treated patients at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Georgia. She has volunteered her services for Hurricane Katrina victims and orphaned Honduran children.

Fauquier Health Physician Services
550 Hospital Drive
Warrenton, Va. 20186
Phone: 540-316-5940
Rheumatology services include the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and pain disorders for adult patients.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Listen to the Sound of Hope

On August 3, I posted a blog about Fauquier Health's Relay for Life team, a group of caring and compassionate women from our Infusion Center and Pharmacy.

On reading the blog, you'll note that the Fauquier Health Infusion and Pharmacy team wrote and performed the winning original song during the Relay for Life. In my first attempt to add some lively entertainment to my blog, I gathered the Relay team together and hooked up our handy dandy new microphone. They sang their song (with gusto) and the result was stupendous!

Have a listen.

Listen to Fauquier Health's winning “Purple Army Fight Song”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Stepping Up

Fauquier Health hosted a Level 2 version of its popular Medical Camp August 12 and 13. This advanced course was offered to students who enjoyed the Level 1 session last summer. During day one, Sarah Rhodes watched as one of her fellow students used the saw to remove her cast during a lesson in orthopedics.

Thanks for the Memories

Orthopedists Dr. David Snyder and Dr. Robert Dart retired recently from their practice at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic and Spine Center. Many Fauquier Health employees stopped by a reception in the Sycamore rooms to give the physicians a proper send off.

LIFE Center Puts Health Goals Within Reach

Everyone has different reasons for swapping cake for carrots, television for exercise. For Louise
Windon, billing specialist for Home Care Services, the reason was pretty cut and dry. “I couldn’t
breathe and I didn’t feel well. I quit smoking in March of 2008 after 40 years and joined
Fauquier Health's LIFE Center a few months later in May.”

Complete Change In Lifestyle

She’s glad she did. Louise says, “I come five days a week at about 6 a.m., start on the elliptical, the treadmill or with stretching. Then I take an early morning class with Sara Freeman. Sara is great. She mixes it up. We do pilates, yoga, weight training, core training, plus stretching and relaxation.”

What has been the result of all this activity? “I feel great,” says Louise. “I have lots more energy -- and I know I’m easier to get along with. I have more endurance, and mentally I feel much better.”

LIFE Center Offers New Motivation

Stephanie Paugh, who works at Home Care Services as an administrative assistant, had a different motivation. In her 40s and leading a hectic lifestyle with two kids, Stephanie found that she was unhappy with her weight. A diminutive 4”11”, she was a size 12. Her goal was to lose several sizes and get down to a size 6.

Stephanie started going to the LIFE Center two to three times a week, but the weight was slow
to come off. When she upped her frequency to four to five times a week and started evaluating her food choices, “The weight started to move. I was so inspired by the LIFE Center employees, especially cycling instructors Amy (Moore) and Laurie (O’Conner), that it became my second home. I lost 33 pounds. After a year, I am now down to a size 2. I have changed what I eat and I am not going back!”

Sarah Pearson, former acting director at the Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and current Planetree facilitator for FHRNC, joined the LIFE Center to become healthier and to lower her
cholesterol. She likes the spin and sculpting classes. “They offer some variety and keep me from getting bored.”

And there is one other part of the LIFE Center that keeps Sarah going back. “I go see Heidi Leavell (certified massage therapist) every month for a hot stone massage – it’s my treat to myself.”
Linda Costello, rehab nurse specialist at the LIFE Center, said she signed up as a member so she could be a positive example to her patients. “I wanted to lose weight and get in better shape. I have made some progress and have a goal to lose another 20 pounds.”

Classes Keep Employees on Their Toes

What motivates Linda? “Starting Zumba made all the difference in my weight loss. I take all the Zumba classes I can fit into my schedule.”

All of these women agree that the supportive and friendly atmosphere at the LIFE Center has made getting in shape easier. Sarah adds, “I really like the atmosphere, the warm physical environment and the warm and inviting staff members all have a great sense of humor, which I love. It’s not an intimidating gym like other facilities.”

Louise sums it up: “I want to go there every morning. It’s part of my social life.”

Best Place to Work

For the third year in a row, Fauquier Hospital was voted the “Best Place to Work” by Warrenton Lifestyle magazine. The publication has a contest every year, seeking reader input on the best of the best in Warrenton. Winners were announced in the August 2009 issue.

Dr. Stephen von Elten of Piedmont Family Medicine was named Warrenton’s “Best Doctor” and Dr. Joshua Jakum of Piedmont Pediatrics was proclaimed “Best Pediatrician.”

Answers to Your Questions About the Novel H1N1 Virus

Fauquier Health is preparing for the possibility of an outbreak of novel H1N1 flu this fall. Below you’ll find some questions that seem to be on everyone’s mind. Dr. Robert Dana Bradshaw, Rappahannock-Rapidan District health director, Virginia Department of Health and Dorothy Seibert, Fauquier Health’s infectious control practitioner offered their expertise. Keep in mind, this is the most current information available, but the situation is constantly changing.

What are the symptoms of the novel H1N1 virus?
Symptoms are similar to those of seasonal flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

Who is most at risk from the novel H1N1 virus?
• Pregnant women
• Those who live with or care for infants less than 6 months old
• Healthcare and emergency services workers
• Anyone younger than 24 years old
• Those 25-64 with chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems

What special steps do I need to take to protect myself and my family?
• Get the novel H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available.
• If you have flu symptoms, you should stay home until free of fever and signs of fever for 24 hours without fever-reducing drugs
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based and sanitizer.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose of it in the trash.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

When will a vaccine be available?
All indications are that it will be available by mid-fall.

How important is it to get vaccinated?
Those in high-risk groups should get vaccinated for their own safety and the safety of their families. The vaccine, which can be administered as an injection or nasal mist, will provide the best level of protection available.

How much do we know about the safety and/or effectiveness of the vaccine?
It is believed that for the novel H1N1 virus, vaccination could prevent illness in 70-90 percent of those who are immunized. It also should reduce hospitalizations and deaths. The safety and effectiveness of this new vaccine is expected to be similar to that of a seasonal flu vaccine.

Will the vaccine make me feel like I have the flu?
The flu shot cannot give you the flu. Some people may have mild symptoms for a couple of days as their body builds an immune response. These symptoms are very mild compared to developing influenza. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help. The most common side effect of immunization is a sore arm.

How will the vaccine be administered?
The novel H1N1 vaccine will be administered in two doses, given approximately three to four weeks apart. Although the first dose will provide a level of protection, your best protection will be two weeks after the second dose. Details about how the vaccine will be given are not finalized. If you have questions, contact your family physician.

Should my children be vaccinated for novel H1N1? How about my elderly parents?
It is recommended that children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years be vaccinated. The novel H1N1 virus has particularly affected those in this age group. Currently, the elderly do not appear to comprise a high risk group for novel H1N1.

Can I have the novel H1N1 vaccine if I’m pregnant?
Pregnant women are among those that should be first in line for the vaccine. They may receive the vaccine at any time during their pregnancy.

Do I need a seasonal flu shot too, and when should I get that?
You should get vaccinated against the seasonal flu as soon as possible. Call your family doctor for more information.

What if I get sick?
If you get the flu, stay home from work, school and social gatherings and do not run errands for several days, until you are no longer contagious.
When should I seek emergency medical care?
If you have any of the following symptoms:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Where can I get more information?
• Visit
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hotline, 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), is available in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY:
• 1-888-232-6348. The website is Questions can be e-mailed to
• Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Central Hotline: (877-ASK-VDH3 / 877-275-8343)
• Links to state departments of public health can be found at