Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Joint replacement center certified for excellence

(At right, Dr. James Ramser has a word with Robert Wheeler before his total knee replacement surgery recently.)

Rodger Baker, CEO and president of Fauquier Health, announced last week that the Fauquier Health’s Center of Excellence for Joint Replacement has been awarded a Certificate of Distinction for its commitment to excellence. The Joint Commission -- the oldest and largest accrediting agency for hospitals nationwide – presented the honor.
The certification was awarded after an extensive study of the center, its clinical procedures, documentation policies, patient satisfaction and patient outcomes.

Former patient Carol Gilliam wasn’t surprised when she found out about the recognition. She has experienced the center’s excellence firsthand – twice.

Gilliam first started to notice the pain in her knees in 2001. At first she was able to manage it with over-the-counter pain medication, but by 2004 her pain had progressed significantly. On a much-anticipated trip with her husband to California, Gilliam was in so much pain that she was unable to leave their hotel room.

That trip convinced Gilliam to tell her physician that she was ready for a permanent solution. She met with Dr. James Ramser of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic and Spine Center, and some of the Fauquier Hospital Joint Center staff to discuss the surgery. They told her what to expect and what she would need to do afterward to have the best outcome.

In January of 2005, Dr. Ramser performed the joint replacement on Gilliam’s most painful knee. Gilliam said, “A successful surgery is the first step of course, but I am a retired nurse so I know how important it is to follow your recovery program. They told me I would need physical therapy and that I would need to do everything they told me to do.”

It wasn’t easy, and it was painful, but Gilliam was so happy with the results that she soon scheduled surgery for the second knee. Looking back, she has no regrets. “Three months after my second surgery I traveled across the country with no problems, and then we went to Germany and I walked everywhere, even up and down lots of steps.”
Gilliam’s husband, Frank, said, “Carol got her life back and I got my wife back”

The journey to the Center of Excellence designation did not happen overnight. Blue Ridge Orthopaedic’s Dr David Snyder took the role of physician champion in 2004 and guided the hospital’s center of excellence development team through nearly five years of progressive changes. A physician champion is a doctor who works with the hospital on behalf of patients, making sure that the interests of the patient are always at the forefront. Dr. James Ramser who recently joined the team as an enthusiastic champion, said, “We serve as advocates for the patients.”

Dr. Ramser said that in the five years since the Center of Excellence initiative first began, the process of care has improved dramatically. “Years ago, before we started to use the center model, everyone did his or her own job but it was more about the mechanics of getting the job done. With the center concept, everyone is part of a bigger team. Now, everyone from the physician, to therapist, nurses and cleaning staff are all focused on one thing – to have a happy patient with good outcomes. It is a huge step forward and it is great to have official recognition from the Joint Commission.”

Dr. Ramser points to the best technology as another contributor to successful outcomes. “For example, the recently adopted Brain Lab is world-class technology for precise, three-dimensional information during surgeries.” Brain Lab is computer-assisted surgery – sort of a GPS system for joint surgeries.

Dr. Ramser is especially proud of the hospital’s track record in infection control. “A frequent concern in all hospitals is always the chance of infection during surgery, which can never be completely eliminated. But our current rate is extremely low, about one third of one percent, which is far below the national average.”

Carol Gilliam offers advice to those considering joint replacement: “If your doctor says you are ready and if you are ready to commit to what you need to do, then joint replacement could be the best decision you ever made.”

When to consider joint replacement

How do you know if you are ready for knee or hip replacement?

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Snyder said, “Most people think pain is reason enough, but it isn’t necessarily. Many people can lead complete and fulfilled lives with some pain, perhaps controlled by medication.” He said that there are three reasons to consider joint replacement – when you have:

• Incapacitation – you are so disabled by the pain that you are unable to enjoy a satisfactory quality of life.

• Unsafe knee – your knee gives way at unexpected times creating a dangerous situation that could result in serious injury, like a broken hip.

• Sleep deprivation –you are so uncomfortable that you don’t sleep; sleep deprivation is a serious health concern that should be addressed.

Dr. Snyder regularly discusses everything you need to know about joint replacement in his free lectures at Fauquier Hospital. The next lecture will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 19. The sessions are held in the hospital tower Sycamore rooms at Fauquier Hospital.

Digital mammograms – a life-saving technology

According to the National Cancer Institute, mammograms are the best breast cancer detection tool available, and women ages 40 and older should have a mammogram at least every two years. (Some patients with higher risk factors may need annual mammograms.)

Until recently, all mammogram images were taken on film. But for some women, newer technology is needed. Digital mammograms are also X-rays, but they are processed, viewed and stored electronically, on a computer.

Beginning in February, Fauquier Health will offer digital instead of film-based mammograms. The new technology was expensive -- $500,000 for each of two units – but Fauquier Health CEO and President Rodger Baker said, “It was important to us to offer the best tools possible for detecting breast cancer. This technology will save lives.”

Fauquier Health’s fundraising arm, the Fauquier Health Foundation, raised more than $96,000 for the system; $50,000 of that came from the Cherry Blossom Breast Cancer Fund at the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation.

Pamela M. Phillips, M.D., of Virginia Radiology Associates, said, “The radiologists are very excited to have digital mammography available to our patients at Fauquier Hospital. Digital mammography has been shown to surpass film-based mammography in detection of cancer in three kinds of women – women with dense breast tissue, premenopausal and perimenopausal women, and women under age 50.”

Advantages of digital mammograms:

  • On a film mammogram, both glandular tissue and cancerous growths appear similarly light-colored, making it difficult to detect abnormalities. Digital mammograms can be adjusted for greater contrast than traditional film, enabling radiologists to interpret images of dense tissue more accurately.

  • Digital processing time is less than a minute, so women wait for less time in the mammography room while the technologist ensures that high-quality images were taken.

  • Radiologists can easily retrieve archived digital images for comparison to new images. And digital images can also be electronically transmitted to specialists in other offices for consultations.

Fauquier Health now offers digital mammography
Obtain an order from your doctor and call (540) 316-5800 to make an appointment.
Women who turn age 40 in 2009 receive a free mammogram at Fauquier Health.

Making history

At Fauquier Health's Bistro on the Hill, employees and visitors watched live streaming video of Tuesday's presidential inauguration on a big screen projection.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Zumba's here: Ditch the workout, have a party

It’s ab work without the crunches – and with a little salsa thrown in.

Not the condiment. The dance music.

It’s called Zumba, and it’s a new exercise class offered at Fauquier Health's LIFE Center. Instructor John Ferguson gave a preview to a half dozen employees and members January 14, and the response was enthusiastic.

Elizabeth Henrickson of Community Outreach said, “Zumba is great fun … the songs are stuck in my head! Can’t wait to attend a class. John (Ferguson) is an invigorating instructor.”

Barbara Crierie, also of Community Outreach, added, “Zumba is a great way to exercise and have fun at the same. I look forward to attending classes with my co-workers.”

“I enjoyed the upbeat music and the opportunity to get loose and have fun with the other gals. John did a great job – he made it comfortable and enjoyable for everyone!!!” said Kay McClure of the Fauquier Health Foundation.

Before cueing up the music for the class, John gave just a few words of advice: “Don’t try to move like you think the instructors are moving. Move in a way that’s comfortable for you. Relax and have fun!”

It took a few moments for some of the women in the class to loosen up, but loosen up they did. The Latin music encouraged them to follow John’s lead and pretty soon Zumba was in full swing.

Smiles and laughter followed as the class members got the hang of the rhythm. And as heart rates increased, they began to feel the “work” in the Zumba “workout.”

John, Amy Moore, Betsy Jones and Carol Jones are all certified in Zumba, after completing an eight-hour course at the University of Maryland.

John said, “I love dance and I wanted to acquire another group class certification.” He said that many LIFE Center members have been asking for Zumba classes, and LeAnn McCusker, director, was happy to oblige.

Angie Kallio, who works with John and LeAnn at the LIFE Center, took the preview class too. She said, “I like that it is new, invigorating and most of all, fun. Getting in shape and losing weight is hard; this is motivating and gets your mind off the goals you have set for yourself and focuses on fun. It is way better than standing on a treadmill just waiting for the time to be up!!!”