Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Villa at Suffield Meadows Holds Open House

The new Villa at Suffield Meadow will hold an open house for those interested on Thursday, January 26, from 2:30 to 6:30.

The Villa is a 56-unit assisted living facility, affiliated with Fauquier Health, is located just north of Warrenton on U.S. 29. With lots of light and greenery, the beautiful complex resembles a gracious Virginia estate and offers many amenities: a wellness center, beauty salon, library, computer room and formal and casual dining.

There is also an 11-person memory support unit for residents with dementia. The Villa will be opening this summer. Call 540-316-3800 to learn more.

Memorial Service Planned for Dr. George Ringholz

Dr. George Ringholz passed away on November 11, 2009 at age 52 after a brief but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Ringholz joined the Fauquier Hospital community as a neurologist in 2006 and touched many lives over three short years.

All are invited to attend his memorial mass on Saturday, January 30, at 2:00 PM at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Warrenton. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

Fundraiser at Iron Bridge an International Affair

The Fauquier Health Foundation, in partnership with the Cherry Blossom Breast Cancer Foundation, will host a wine tasting at the Iron Bridge Wine Company in Warrenton on Sunday, February 21, from 4 to 7 p.m. The fundraiser will feature a culinary trip around the world, with food and wine pairings from all over the globe.

Two outspoken advocates for breast cancer patients are heading up the evening. Jim Atkins, member of the Board of Directors of Fauquier Health Foundation and founding member of the Cherry Blossom Breast Cancer Foundation, and John Williams, M.D. breast cancer surgeon, have been instrumental in raising awareness and funds to provide a patient navigator for the Cancer Center at Lake Manassas. The position will serve all cancer patients, helping them to work through the health care process as they battle their disease.

Guests will be asked to contribute $125 per person for the evening of exotic food, drink and good company. For tickets or more information, contact the Fauquier Health Foundation at 540-316-2614.

Breast Cancer Doctors Embrace Multidisciplinary Approach

Recent technological advances in medicine mean that electronic medical records, X-rays and prescription information are all available instantly for seamless communication.

But the doctors who work with breast cancer patients at the Cancer Center at Lake Manassas have taken information sharing a step further. Oncologists, radiologists and surgeons gather in the same room once a month to discuss treatments for their mutual breast cancer patients.

Technology is invaluable, but this is a thoroughly human approach. Doctors confer with doctors – face to face -- about the physical and emotional needs of their patients.

The group of a dozen or so physicians – including medical director of the Cancer Center, radiation oncologist Sanjeev Aggarwal, M.D. -- has been gathering for about a year, sharing new techniques and comparing notes on their patients’ surgical, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Opening the group’s January meeting, breast surgeon John Williams, M.D., described a new approach he had used during a recent surgery. Using a marker on poster board, he drew a picture of the surgery that used elements of breast reduction surgery to remove a cancer and, at the same time, leave the breasts looking intact and of equal size.

“Breast cancer is very complex,” said Dr. Williams. “Particularly when I use a new technique, I need to know how my surgery is going to affect a patient’s radiation or chemotherapy treatment. That’s why we make this effort to talk to one another. The more reconstruction you do at the time of the initial surgery, the more difficult it can make radiation treatments. I took some special steps in this surgery to make Dr. Aggarwal’s job easier.”

Dr Aggarwal said, “These meetings are very important for us, especially when we alter the treatment slightly from what we’ve done before.”

Breast surgeon Cynthia Dougherty, M.D., said, “Our jobs are very specialized, and don’t overlap very much. But many of our patients see at least three different specialists throughout the course of their treatment. It’s important that we communicate.”

Throughout the discussions during the January multidisciplinary meeting, the physicians introduced new research and talked about the latest studies. But time after time, they returned to each patient and her specific situation. General surgeon Joe Brown, M.D. explained, “Every patient is different. Treatment depends on how big the tumor is, where the tumor is, and how the patient is feeling about surgery. A 70-year-old woman may want to have mastectomies of both breasts to have a better chance of eradicating the cancer. A younger woman may want to approach the same situation with a breast preserving surgery.”

Dr. Dougherty agreed, “I don’t make treatment decisions for my patients. I give them all the information. It is up to them. A lot of women ask me, ‘What would you do?’ I’ll tell them, but the decision is theirs.”

“It’s helpful for us to know how patients feel before we see them. In addition to these meetings, we all communicate all the time by phone about specific patients.”

Jey Maran, M.D. medical oncologist, said, “The medical data on breast cancer is very clear, the treatments very established, so we don’t usually disagree on treatment, but we are learning from each other to be comprehensive, and to consider each case from all perspectives.”

Fauquier Health Participating Physicians

Sanjeev Aggarwal, M.D.
Radiation Oncologist
Cancer Center at Lake Manassas, 703-753-4045

David Allison, M.D.
Plastic Surgery
David Allison, M.D., P.C, 703-754-8228

Joseph Brown, M.D.
General Surgeon
Northern Virginia Surgical Specialists, 540-347-2805

Cynthia Dougherty, M.D.
Breast Surgeon
Northern Virginia Surgical Specialists, 540-347-2805

Lynn Samuel, M.D.
Fauquier Health, 540-316-5604

Benjamin Wampler, M.D.
General Surgeon
Northern Virginia Surgical Specialists, 540-347-2805

John Williams, M.D.
Breast Surgeon
Northern Virginia Surgical Specialists, 540-347-2805

Cancer Center at Lake Manassas
Location: 7901 Lake Manassas Drive, Gainesville
Phone: 703-753-4045
The Cancer Center at Lake Manassas is a partnership between Fauquier Health and Prince William Hospital.

Foundation, Community Outreach Departments Move to 170 Shirley Avevue, Suite 101

While packing up to move to new office space down the hill on Shirley Avenue, the Fauquier Health Marketing, Community Development and Foundation staff found some interesting mementos. This photo of CEO Rodger Baker and television personality Willard Scott -- taken in the early 1990s -- was a memorable find.

The new offices are at 170 Shirley Avenue, Suite 101, right next to the Warrenton Police Department building.

Fauquier Health Reaches Out to Haiti Earthquake Victims

-- Fauquier Health will donate 50 cents for every dollar contributed by a Fauquier Health employee.

-- Rita Hawes, a volunteer for Medical Missionaries, said that the donations provided on short notice by the staff at Fauquier Health filled 15 suitcases with soap, toothpaste, diapers, baby wipes, sterile syringes and other necessary items. Rita was amazed at how quickly the Fauquier Health family came together in this crisis.

-- Cathy Shore, Pharmacy inventory manager, devoted two work days to ordering and packing up $10,000 worth of drugs purchased by Medical Missionaries.

-- The Surgical Services Department compiled dressings (Fluff, Kerlex, Steri-Strips, tape), sterilization supplies (sterile water, and Cidex, Bactoshield surgical scrub, Betadine), surgical drains (Robinson catheters 14fr, 16fr, 18fr, Penrose drains), surgical supplies (lap pads, surgical wire, suture, Gigli saws (for amputations).

Fauquier Hospital's Medical Missionaries

Along with Dr. David Snyder (see next blog entry), Dr. Suzanne Hayes, Piedmont Pediatrics pediatrician, and Drs. Doug Smith and Rente Austin, both Fauquier Health Emergency Department physicians, traveled to Haiti to help earthquake victims January 21. Dr. Snyder also is happy to have his retired scrub nurse along with him, Sherry Pace, who is a former Fauquier Health nurse. In addition to medical personnel, an engineer and several electricians are part of the group.

All are traveling under the auspices of the
Medical Missionaries, founded and still headed by Dr. Gil Irwin of Manassas. “He makes the calls,” said Dr. Snyder. “He has trailers full of supplies stored at an old dairy farm at Linton Hall. He collects donations and expired medical supplies 365 days a year, and sends them where they are needed.” Dr. Snyder grinned, “The best thing that ever happened to us was when they started dating medicine and medical equipment as expired.”

Dr. Kenneth Kornetsky, nephrologist, is Medical Missionaries’ number two man, organizing the Fauquier/Culpeper region.

Dr. William Barker, with Fauquier Health’s Emergency Department, has been in Haiti for the last two weeks.

Dr. Snyder said that Medical Missionaries has several more missions planned, to extend into March. Dr. David Pfeffer, urologist, will be packing his bags for Haiti within the next week or two.

Upcoming Events for Fauquier Hosptial in February

Monday, February 1
Your Childbirth Experience
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Details: 4 sessions; February 1, 8, 15, 22
Cost: $120
Register: 540-316-3588

Tuesday, February 2
New Mom’s Support Group
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Wednesday, February 3
Physician Lecture
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
When: 7 p.m.
Details: “Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” with Steven von Elten, M.D.
Register: 540-316-3588

Saturday, February 6
Heart Health Fair
Where: Buchanan Hall, Upperville
When: 9 a.m. to noon
Details: Free health, screenings (cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose and BMI); healthy cooking demonstrations; Zumba and exercise band demos: head and neck massages

Your Childbirth Experience
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: Weekend class
Cost: $120
Register: 540-316-3588

Saturday, February 13
First Aid/Adult/Infant & Child CPR/AED
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $65
Register: 540-316-3588

MS Support Group
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms
When: 1 to 3 p.m.
Register: 800-344-4867

Tuesday, February 16
Baby Care Essentials
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $25
Register: 540-316-3588

New Mom’s Support Group
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 11a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

Tuesday, February 23
Breast Feeding
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 7 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $25
Register: 540-316-3588

American Red Cross Blood Drive
Where: Sycamore rooms
When: 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 27
Babysitter Training
Where: Fauquier Health Sycamore rooms
When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cost: $40
Register: 540-316-3588

Clinicians Offer Help to Haiti Earthquake Victims

Dr. David Snyder, retired orthopedic surgeon, was in Fauquier Hospital’s Surgical Services Department Wednesday, gathering supplies for his departure the next day with the Medical Missionaries. As he ruminated about the earthquake in Haiti and on past medical missions to the desperately poor country, friends and former co-workers stopped by to offer best wishes and words of concern and caution: “I’ll be praying for you;” “Be safe;” “It’s dangerous down there. Please be careful.”

Dr. Snyder knows all about the risks, the poverty and the aftershocks. This will be his sixth trip to Haiti with Medical Missionaries. “On other trips, we have seen people with routine injuries… a motorbike accident, a severed Achilles tendon. This time we orthopedic surgeons will be dealing with crush injuries, fractures, dislocations.”

The media has focused on stories of lawlessness and looting, but Dr. Snyder has seen another Haiti. “When we see patients, everyone in the waiting room is quiet and well-behaved. They wait their turns. They dress up in their best clothes to come to see the doctor and are very grateful for our help.

“In the central highlands where we work, we say that there is no crime because there is nothing left to steal. The people there have good values, strong families. It’s safe to walk around at night and there are very few policemen. The churches are very active and run most of the schools. You go into a school and there are three kids to a desk. They all stand up and bow and say, ‘Monsieur docteur.’
“Each girl has one white dress that they wear to church. The men and women get all dressed up too. When the service starts, there are these wonderful drums.

“The Haitians are very poor; most live on less than $2 a day. But they are a very proud people. They are steeped in tradition and color and art.”

Dr. Snyder has good memories of his visits to Haiti, like the time he traveled for miles over mountains on the back of a motorbike – the Haitian taxi cab – to retrieve supplies. Or the time his group was working on the problem of providing safe drinking water. The village of 6,000 was drinking very contaminated water, when someone discovered a source of perfectly clean water 1,000 yards away. “All these little triumphs …” recalled Dr. Snyder.

He added, “After the earthquake, at first, the people were fighting for survival. They didn’t have food or water and hadn’t eaten in days. They took what they needed to survive. But when the supplies arrived, when they could see they were going to get food, they got in line and waited their turn.”

Dr. Snyder feels the world’s response to the disaster has been good, considering that the earthquake was a very big one. The 7.0 magnitude quake’s epicenter hit just 10 miles west of Porte-au-Prince and its 2 million inhabitants. Dr. Snyder said, “It closed the port and destroyed the whole city of Porte-au-Prince -- the cathedral, the presidential palace, schools, everything. The government is being run out of a small police station. And the roads are terrible in Haiti,” which makes it
extremely difficult to move supplies.

Dr. Snyder thinks that perhaps those going to Haiti for the first time during this disaster may experience something like shell shock because of the widespread poverty. He said that there are very few trees because wood is the main source of heat. People live in shacks with metal or thatched roofs and dirt floors. But the residents sweep the dirt floors and everyone has a garden -- and goats. He smiled, “We eat a lot of goat when we’re there.”

This may be Dr. Snyder’s first trip to a natural disaster, but he is no stranger to the pressure of acute trauma and horrific injuries. He served in Viet Nam during the second Tet Offensive. “The difference then, was that we were incredibly prepared. This time, everyone was taken completely by surprise.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Healthy Happenings Provides Health News, and New Perspective

The following few blog entries, on various health topics, may be found in Fauquier Health's Healthy Happenings, a community newsletter that is mailed out to families in the area. As part of my job, every quarter when Healthy Happenings comes out I wander around the hospital and distribute copies in the waiting rooms for people to peruse.

The first few times I did this, I got lost frequently, but there was always a friendly, understanding person nearby who could nudge me on my way. This is actually a skill taught to employees when they join Fauquier Health. Employees and volunteers are taught to assist anyone who looks even a little bit confused about where to go.

Now that I am a two-year veteran in my position as PR Specialist, even I -- though directionally challenged -- have been able to escort patients or families to their destinations on occasion. It's amazing what a difference this little kindness makes to visitors. I always get a grateful smile, and that gives me a lift too. Civility is alive and well at Fauquier Hospital.

Now that I don't get lost among the five floors of the hospital (four patient floors and the ground floor), I have leisure to notice other niceties. I was headed down the hall towards the MRI unit with a stack of Healthy Happenings when it suddenly struck me that the white tiled floor was sparkling and shiny. It was so clean that it looked brand new. A glance down the intersecting hall revealed the same spotless floor and clean, open hallway. There was no one in either hall, but I knew who had been there. Fauquier Health's housekeeping staff is wonderful. Thorough and hard-working -- and endlessly cheerful to boot.

I then slowed down to notice the framed artwork on the walls and listened to the soft music playing from the hallway speakers. It honestly made me stop for a moment. After two years, I had started to take my surroundings for granted. How would these hallways look to a sick patient or a worried dad, there for the first time? My guess is they couldn't help but feel comforted, even if they didn't know why.
The little things really do matter.

It's nice to know there is such caring thoughtfulness on display every day at my hospital -- in the patients' rooms, and even in the hallways.

Your Questions Answered, on Lupus, Breast Cancer, and Interventional Radiology

Fauquier Health physicians took a little time out to answer the questions they are most frequently asked in their specialty areas.

Nandini Chhitwal, M.D.

Q: What is lupus? What are the symptoms?
A: Fever. Fatigue. Aches and pains. These symptoms sound an awful lot like the flu.
That’s one of the problems with lupus: Symptoms often mimic other illnesses,making the disorder difficult to pin down.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease. This means your immune system — which normally protects you against infection — attacks healthy cells and tissues throughout your body. For example, lupus can affect your skin, joints, nervous system, blood and blood vessels. It also can damage internal organs, including your kidneys, heart, lungs and brain.

No one is certain what causes lupus. But it can run in families and probably is linked to a combination of factors. Women are nine times more likely to get the
disease than men — usually during childbearing years.

Some people with lupus have mild symptoms. Others suffer severe effects that are life threatening. In most cases, people with lupus have multiple indicators, characterized by “flare-ups” when they worsen, followed by periods of wellness. One
symptom of lupus is a distinctive “butterfly rash,” in which the skin across your nose and cheeks turns red. Other possible signs include the following:
● Muscle aches and painful, swollen joints or arthritis — most often in the knees, wrists and hands
● Low-grade fever
● Extreme fatigue
● Hair loss
● Sensitivity to sunlight
● Nausea and vomiting

NEW RHEUMATOLOGIST. Nandini Chhitwal, M.D., a new physician with Fauquier Health, offers rheumatology services at 550 Hospital Drive in Warrenton.

David Weber, M.D.

Q: I have a family history of breast cancer. What breast cancer screening options should I consider?
A: While digital mammography remains the gold standard for breast screening, certain
patients do benefit from supplemental breast MRI scans. These patients include
women who are genetically predisposed to breast cancer or those with a strong family
or personal history. For these patients, the American Cancer Society recommends both
a mammogram and an MRI annually, beginning at age 30. Your doctor will determine if you qualify.

For patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, breast MRI gives surgeons and oncologists a clear picture of the extent of the cancer to ensure that proper treatment is delivered. It is also extremely accurate in determining a patient’s response to chemotherapy treatment, and can do so earlier than mammography, ultrasound or a physical exam.

NEW DIAGNOSTIC SERVICE. Fauquier Hospital continues its commitment to bringing the latest in health care technology to our community by offering breast MRIs. Call your doctor to find out if you are a candidate.

Adam Winick, M.D.
Interventional Radiology

Q: What is interventional radiology?
A: Interventional radiology (IR) treats and diagnoses diseases without surgery by
using minimally invasive procedures. Interventional radiologists use X-rays,
ultrasound, CT (computed tomography) scans and other imaging techniques to
guide a small tube called a catheter into the body. Then they may use tiny tools
inserted into the catheter to treat the ource of the disease.
IR offers an alternative to surgery for any conditions. It can even eliminate the need for ospitalization in some cases. IR treatments offer ptients shorter recovery time, less pain and fewer isks than open surgery.
A few common IR procedures include the following:
● Angiography: An X-ray of the arteries and veins to detect blockage or narrowing of the vessels. In many cases, the interventional radiologist can treat the blockages, such as those occurring in the arteries in the legs or kidneys, by inserting a small
stent that inflates an attached balloon and opens the vessel. This procedure is called a balloon angioplasty.
● Embolization: The insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop excessive bleeding.
● Stent placement: A tiny expandable coil called a stent is placed inside a blood vessel at the site of a blockage. The stent is expanded to open up the blockage.
● Needle biopsy: A small needle is inserted into the abnormal area in almost any part of the body, guided by imaging techniques, to obtain a tissue biopsy.
● Blood clot filters: A small filter is inserted into a blood clot to catch and break up clots.

LOCAL SPECIALISTS. Fauquier Hospital has an extensive interventional radiology team. Ask your doctor about possible procedures.

Success Stories from the LIFE Center

Everyone has different reasons for swapping cake for carrots, television for exercise. For Louise Windon, 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 the 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.”

Stephanie Paugh, who works 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 feet, 11 inches, 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!”
Try out the LIFE Center and see if it's for you. Call 540-316-2640 to arrange for your free week.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Eating breakfast: It’s something you can do every morning to help yourself maintain a healthy weight, cut your risk of putting on pounds, sustain a previous weight loss, prevent overeating, and provide the energy you need to get up and go. Skipping this valuable meal may actually make you hungrier for high-fat food.

To get your day off to the best possible start, try these yummy, good-for-you breakfast tips:
● Top low-fat yogurt with low-fat granola.
● Cook a cup of oatmeal with low-fat milk or soy milk.
● Spread a slice of whole-wheat toast with a thin coating of peanut butter.
● Whirl up a smoothie with frozen fruit, low-fat yogurt and juice.
● Have a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk.

How to Portion Your Plate

Knowing which foods to eat to stay healthy can seem daunting. Properly portioning your plate ensures that you eat more of the foods that are good for you, like fruits and vegetables, and smaller portions of those that tend to be higher in fat or calories, like meats and carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables fill your belly, leaving less room for unhealthy, high-calorie foods.

Here’s how it works: Take a dinner plate and draw an imaginary line down the middle. Split one side in half again so you have three sections.

Fruits and Vegetables
Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Try to make this section as colorful as you can. Studies show that different colored fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals that provide various health benefits.

Fill one of the smaller sections with lean cuts of meat. For example, try fish such as salmon, cod or tuna, or seafood like shrimp or clams. Other good choices are skinless poultry or lean cuts of beef or pork. For an alternative to meat, try eggs, tofu and low-fat cheese.

The last section should contain starchy foods (stack only as high as a deck of cards). Choose whole-grain products rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. For example, try brown or wild rice, or whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers. You can
also fill this section of your plate with starchy vegetables such as potatoes, acorn or butternut squash, peas or corn.

Fauquier Health’s LIFE Center offers nutritional programs with certified dietitian Aren Dodge. The LIFE Center also features two certified diabetes educators. Call 540-316-2640 for more information.

How to Choose the Right Exercise Program for You

Do you want to lose weight, strengthen your muscles or bones, become more flexible — or all of these? Or is keeping your heart healthy the priority?

● If cardiovascular fitness is what you’re after, exercise that helps the heart and lungs is key. Try brisk walking, running, swimming or bicycling.

● If you’d like to shed a few pounds, brisk walking helps with that, too. In fact, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, brisk walking and other moderate physical activity can help women lose weight and keep it off just as well as more intense exercise, such as running. The key, it seems, is to work out at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Plus, some research suggests that moderate exercisers are more likely than vigorous exercisers to continue working out in the long term.

● To build bones, choose weight-bearing activities. These include stair climbing, basketball, running, walking, tennis, racquetball, jumping rope and weight lifting. An added bonus: If you choose to lift weights, you’ll be strengthening your bones and your muscles.

● Need flexibility? Exercises that lengthen the muscles and encourage joints and muscles to work through their full range of motion are the ticket. Try swimming, water aerobics or a stretching class. Yoga is a great option, too.

Exercise Safely
If you’re younger than age 35 and in good health, it’s probably safe to start exercising. Those older than age 35 who have been inactive for several years should check with a doctor first. Also get a doctor’s OK if you have heart disease, asthma, diabetes, arthritis or any other chronic health condition, no matter what your age.

Join Today
Reshape your body — and your life — with a LIFE Fitness Center membership. You can even try a week for free. Visit or call 540-316-2640.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Closer Look at Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that causes stiffness, pain, inflammation and limited movement of multiple joints. It is the most common form of arthritis triggered by the immune system. Nandini Chhitwal, M.D., rheumatologist with Fauquier Health, says that although there is no cure for RA, the goal of treatment is to minimize symptoms and disability by introducing appropriate medical therapy as soon as possible, before the joints are permanently damaged. Successful management of RA requires early diagnosis and, at times, aggressive treatment.

Variety of Medications
Several types of medication are available for rheumatoid arthritis. Some treat only the pain; others relieve both pain and inflammation.

● Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (including aspirin, Advil, Motrin IB and Aleve) relieve both pain and inflammation.

● Corticosteroids like prednisone, cortisone, hydrocortisone and methylprednisolone reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Some forms may be injected into the affected joints to temporarily relieve pain.

● Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs may take months to show results, so they are not used for pain relief. However, they slow the progression of the disease and prevent joint deformity.

● Biologic response modifier drugs also slow the progression of the disease and prevent joint deformity. They can be injected or given intravenously.

Other Treatments
Anyone with RA needs to balance rest and exercise, resting when the disease is active and exercising when it is not. Rest helps reduce joint inflammation and pain, and fights fatigue. Exercise helps maintain muscle strength, preserves joint mobility and maintains flexibility.

Surgery is another option for treating arthritis. It can remove loose pieces of bone and cartilage, smooth bone surfaces, reposition bones or replace joints. Artificial joints can last more than 20 years, so patients and their doctors must determine the right timing for surgery.

Dr. Chhitwal will present a lecture on "Living with Rheumatoid Athrritis" on January 20 at 7 p.m. in the Fauquier Hospital Sycamore rooms. Call 540-316-3588 to register.

Complex Spine Surgery Helps Man Walk Again

When Sherman Johnson first started feeling numbness in his hands,legs and feet, he didn’t really give the problem much thought. But when it reached the point where he could no longer use his hands or walk, he knew he needed help.

“It had gotten so bad, I wasn’t able to function anymore,” Johnson says. “That’s when I went to Fauquier Hospital to find out what was wrong.”

Charles Seal, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon with Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center, was consulted the day Johnson arrived.

“Mr. Johnson had severe compression of his spinal cord at multiple levels in his neck,” Dr. Seal explains. “That’s what was causing him to lose function in his arms and legs. As an orthopedic spine surgeon, I treat this type of problem frequently, but Mr. Johnson had a very severe version of it. I knew that if he did not get surgery right away, he was going to end up in a wheelchair.”

Dr. Seal performed four surgical procedures at Fauquier Hospital: an anterior cervical corpectomy, diskectomy, reconstruction and fusion. “We removed two bones and three discs from Mr. Johnson’s neck to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord and nerves,” Dr. Seal says. “After that, we reconstructed his neck using a titanium cage combined with a titanium plate and screws to fuse his neck.”
The surgery was successful, and even though a full recovery for a patient in Johnson’s condition can take as long as 18 months, Dr. Seal noticed considerable improvement within the first month. “Three weeks after the surgery, Mr. Johnson saw a dramatic improvement in the use of his hands and was able to walk without using a cane.”
Now, just a few months after the surgery, Johnson is happy to be back at work at the Fauquier SPCA.

He’s also happy with Dr. Seal and Fauquier Health. “Dr. Seal eliminated my pain,” Johnson says. “I know it’s a slow process and I’m not completely out of the woods yet, but I’m getting the feeling back in my legs and I can walk better now.”

In addition to being pleased with the exceptional care he received, Johnson is also impressed because he has no visible scars. “A lot of times when you have surgery, you get that zipper mark, but I don’t have any marks,” Johnson says.

Johnson was happy with everyone who worked with him during his stay. “As an example, while I was at the hospital, I had to go down to get my MRI,” Johnson explains. “As I was leaving the room, my dinner tray arrived. By the time I got back to my room, I thought I was going to have to eat a cold dinner, but they actually brought me a new hot meal. Everyone at Fauquier Hospital — from the nurses to the janitors to the financial counselors — was very helpful and welcoming.”

To learn more about how Fauquier Health’s orthopedic services can help you, call 540-316-DOCS (3627), or send an e-mail to

Patient Advisory Council Needs New Members

Fauquier Health is currently seeking new members for our Patient Advisory Council. The council provides health system feedback regarding patients’ and their families’ experiences, and thoughts on new initiatives or current issues.

The group was established at Fauquier Health in 2007 and has taken communication with patients to a whole new level.

Patients and caregivers attend semiannual meetings and offer their impressions of the health system and the care they have received. Also, the council brainstorms new and innovative ways to improve current programs, services and the patient experience.

Fauquier Health is looking for former patients who:
● Are supportive of the mission of the council;
● Have good communication skills;
● Are able to use personal experiences constructively; and
● Are able to work productively and collaboratively with members of varying backgrounds.

Council members make a two-year commitment, which allows for the membership of each subgroup to consist of veterans as well as new members simultaneously.

To volunteer for the Patient Advisory Council, call 540-316-3902 for an application.

The Villa Offers New Fauquier Option for Assisted Living

Older adults have many long-term care options. And while it’s good to have choices, it can be difficult to understand the differences between one type of facility and another. Assisted living is a good option for active older adults who can no longer live entirely on their own but do not need high-level medical or nursing services.

Assisted living is not the same as a nursing home. Instead, it is a group living arrangement for relatively independent older adults who want a helping hand with everyday activities like cooking and housekeeping.

Here’s what to look for in an assisted living facility:

1. A Thriving Social Community
Companionship, recreational activities and opportunities for socializing are
an important part of what assisted living offers. This kind of support can help
reduce loneliness and feelings of depression. It also can improve function and help
people feel better. Older adults who live in communities like assisted living homes
report better emotional health than people of the same age living in other types
of housing.

2. Extra Help if You Need It
Residents can get help with daily living activities like dressing, bathing and taking
medicines. In addition, assisted living facilities also offer laundry services,
transportation and security.

3. Exercise Opportunities
Staying active is important to your health as you age. Exercise and health promotion programs can help people maintain or improve their strength and stamina. This is key to the philosophy of assisted living: helping residents stay independent as they age.

The new Villa at Suffield Meadows is a 56-unit assisted living facility located just north of Warrenton on U.S. 29. With lots of light and greenery, the beautiful complex resembles a gracious Virginia estate and offers many amenities: a wellness center, beauty salon, library, computer room and formal and casual dining.

There is also an 11-person memory support unit for residents with dementia.

The Villa will be opening this summer. Call 540-316-3800 or go to the Fauquier Health website at to learn more.

Collaborative Care for Cancer Patients at Lake Manassas

The Cancer Center at Lake Manassas recently received accreditation from the American
College of Radiology after an intense nine-month process. Accreditation procedures required onsite reviews of the center’s policies and procedures, quality assurance practices,patient charts and electronic medical records.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for a center to achieve this accreditation in only its third year of operations,” says Sanjeev Aggarwal,M.D., medical director of the Center.

The Cancer Center utilizes a collaborative approach — working closely with referring
physicians, surgeons and other oncology specialists — to provide the best cancer care possible. Dr. Aggarwal meets monthly with surgeons, medical oncologists and pathologists from area hospitals to review cases and discuss best practices in treatments and patient care.

This care is delivered in a comfortable, patient-centered environment, utilizing the latest radiation therapy technologies,including the faster, more precise and innovative RapidArc™ radiation therapy. The Cancer Center is the first and only facility in Northern Virginia to offer RapidArc for patients.

“Our goal is to use technology, relationships and community resources to provide patients with the highest level of care,” says Dr. Aggarwal.

The Cancer Center has partnered with the Virginia Prostate Cancer Coalition on support groups and workshops, sponsors the “I Can Cope” series for newly diagnosed patients, and participates in the American Cancer Society Realy for Life.

Sanjeev Aggarwal, M.D., welcomes all cancer patients to contact the Cancer Center’s experienced staff at 703-753-4045 to discuss their diagnosis and treatment options. Or go to

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Baby of 2010

Allison Giselle Rivas Lopez was the first baby born at Fauquier Hospital in 2010. Proud parents are Maria Lopez Serrato and Jimmy Misael Rivas of Warrenton.

Allison made her entrance at 5:33 a.m. on New Year’s Day.