WE ARE LOCAL News in Prince William, Virginia




Novant Health lifts flu-related visitor restrictions

From a Novant Health press release:

 As of Tuesday, April 18 at 7a.m., all Novant Health facilities have lifted the visitor restrictions that were put in place on February 24. During the height of this flu season, Novant Health asked the community to keep visitors age 12 and under out of all its hospital facilities. As a result of the declining number of flu cases seen over the past few weeks, these restrictions have been lifted.

The decision has been made in collaboration with other regional hospitals including Novant Health, Carolinas HealthCare System, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Cone Health, High Point Regional Health System and Randolph Health.

Individuals exhibiting flu symptoms still should not visit patients. Those symptoms include fever, cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. However, people who are seeking treatment at hospitals are not subject to the restriction.

“We appreciate the continued support and flexibility of our patients, their families and the community,” said Dr. David Priest, medical director for infection prevention at Novant Health. “The visitor restrictions were necessary to protect our most vulnerable hospitalized patients, but now as we see the number of influenza cases continue to decline we are happy to welcome back visitors of all ages into our facilities.”

Obesity took Jessica’s mom at age 55. She didn’t want the same to happen to her.

“My mom died of a heart attack early. She was only 55, and it was due to her being obese for so long. That’s pretty young, and I want to live longer than that,” said Jessica Barnett. “That was the catalyst. I could see myself following in her footsteps. I really didn’t want to die.”

This is the primary reason for Jessica’s decision to have weight loss surgery. She had been on a 20-year weight loss journey, that culminated with her surgery in May 2015. At that time, she weighed in at 250 pounds, wore a size 22 and had a BMI of 40.

She had gone to nutritionists, tried every diet and exhausted every avenue. Then she turned to Dr. John Dockins, a surgeon at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, and she found her weight loss solution. “It [gastric bypass] has saved my life,” she said. “I recommend it every day.”

Jessica started her weight loss surgery journey like all other patients at Sentara. She watched a formal presentation on obesity, how it affects overall health, the science of obesity, how to treat it, what surgeries are available and how pre-operative and post-operative processes work. She then went to see Dr. Dockins for an initial consultation.

At this point, some patients decide not to move forward, but Jessica elected to proceed. She committed to a medically supervised weight loss program with a nutritionist. Most patients spend three to six months losing weight and going through pre-op testing to make sure they are fully educated, and it is safe for them to proceed with surgery. The staff works with patients to make changes prior to surgery; these pre-operative changes ultimately aid in their post-surgical success.

“Most morbidly obese people who try to lose the weight without surgery regain all their weight within two years,” Dr. Dockins said. But the education Sentara provides helps people to prepare for a healthy lifestyle. Patients are given the education followed by surgery to set them up for long-term weight loss success. “Weight loss surgery is a tool we use to help achieve the goals of life-long weight reduction and resolution of the medical problems associated with obesity. The lifestyle changes that people make throughout the process is just as important to their long-term success,” said Dr. Dockins. He teaches patients to use that surgical tool.

Jessica took Dr. Dockins’ advice to heart and made the healthy changes required to maintain permanent weight loss. “One of the things that’s a big change for me is being conscious of portion sizes,” Jessica said. She replaced all her dishes with smaller, picnic size dishes. She also began a regimen of walking five to six miles per day. Her family uses the dishes and walks with her. As a result, they have lost weight, too.

Barnett, Jessica4

Jessica now weighs in at 143 and has been maintaining that weight for the past three to four months. She wears a size eight, which she achieved in nine months. She is no longer trying to lose weight, but just to maintain it.

Losing all that weight has meant a change in shopping habits. To find the right size, Jessica often has to shop in the junior section. “But I don’t want to look like a teenager,” she said. She turns to the Internet and personal shoppers to help her get the right size and styles for her.

Jessica also takes advantage of the support groups offered by Sentara, which provide in-person support and through a private Facebook group. The online group shares healthy recipes offer words of encouragement and holds clothing swaps, so members don’t have to buy a completely new wardrobe as they lose weight. “It’s inspiring for people who are going through their surgeries,” Jessica said.

Jessica isn’t alone in her struggle with obesity. The Center for Disease Control says more than one-third (34.9 percent or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. Dr. Dockins said a typical patient he sees might be 150 to 200 pounds overweight. Like Jessica, they’ve tried medication, diet modification, and exercise to no avail.

But this isn’t just a desire to look better. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, and the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. is in the billions.

Dr. Dockins aims to improve those statistics one patient at a time. To attain that goal, Dr. Dockins performs gastric bypass surgery, the surgery Jessica had, and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. The goal of these surgeries is not only to lose weight but to help alleviate those health problems that come along with obesity. He estimates that only about one percent of people who have access to weight loss surgery take advantage of it.

Dr. Dockins doesn’t stop with surgery; he says he wants to continue to be a resource for his patients long after he sees them in his operating room. “I’ve performed hundreds of surgeries, but more importantly, I’ve followed hundreds of post-op patients for the months and years after surgery. This long-term relationship helps to ensure that patients’ medical problems are resolving, they’re losing weight without developing nutritional deficiencies, and they are maintaining

a healthy lifestyle. The life-long follow-up is just as important as performing the initial surgery. “I want patients to lose weight for life. I do my best to work with people and make them successful.”

Jessica Barnett would agree. “He [Dr. Dockins] is a wonderful man,” said Jessica. “He saves many lives. He cheers for you. I’m very lucky I found him.”

Sentara merges with Pratt Medical Center

Sentara Healthcare merged with Pratt Medical Center.

Pratt serves 66,000 patients in Stafford, Fredericksburg, King George, and Dahlgren areas. The healthcare began looking for a new partnership last year.

“Sentara and Pratt share a common commitment to improving the quality of health care in their communities,” stated Stephen D. Porter, corporate vice president, Sentara Healthcare in a press release. “The more we discussed a partnership, the more our natural fit became apparent, with both cultures focused on quality, innovation and a commitment to placing the patient at the center of all we do.”

The new company will operate under the name “Sentara Pratt Medical Group.” Nearly 40 multi-speciality providers will work under the new name, according to a press release.

Patients will see few changes, according to Sentara spokeswoman Corianne Pafford: 

We expect few changes for patients. They are likely to notice some minor administrative changes, such as signage, web migration and email address changes over the coming months. Patients have also been informed to verify that their insurance will participate in the new group.

Overall, all locations (addresses) and phone contact will remain the same, as well as our collective commitment to quality care for the Greater Fredericksburg area.

Pratt’s facilities will add to Sentara’s healthcare portfolio which includes Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, formerly Potomac Hospital, and Sentara Lake Ridge.

Pratt Medical was founded in 1937 by Dr. Frank C. Pratt.

Sentara operates more than 100 healthcare offices and 12 hospitals. Sentara purchased Potomac Hospital in 2009 and then changed its name to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in 2012. Sentara Lake Ridge opened the same year.

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital floods, closes for the day


Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and its outlying health centers at Dumfries and Fairfax are OPEN and non-emergency employees have the option for UNSCHEDULED LEAVE or UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. All appointments remain on schedule; however, we encourage patients and staff to first take their safety into consideration before driving into work or coming in for an appointment. If the roads are dangerous to drive on, patients can contact the clinic where they have an appointment scheduled to cancel or reschedule. Military and civilian staff who may have difficulty reporting to work must contact their immediate supervisors to coordinate unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.

Original post 

The Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is closed due to flooding inside the building.

Officials at Fort Belvoir issued this statement:

URGENT NOTICE: Hospital Closing Due To Basement Flooding

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital is CLOSED today due to water supply and plumbing problems that are impacting healthcare operations and network capabilities. All routine and acute appointments as well as elective surgeries are CANCELLED.

Emergency Room services are CLOSED as well. Patients should contact the Tricare Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE (1-800-874-2273) and select option #1 to speak with a team member about an urgent care need. Patients can also visit the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center emergency room for assistance.

Dumfries and Fairfax Health Centers may also be impacted as a result of limited network capabilities.

Hospital staff will contact patients to reschedule appointments; however, patients can also contact the Integrated Referral Management Appointing Center at 855-227-6331 to rescheduled appointments.

The $1 billion hospital opened in August 2011. The project devised in most recent round of BRAC replaced Dewitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir.

The hospital has 12o patient rooms. It was designed five phases, and was touted at the time of opening as the only hospital of its kind to incorporate views of nature.

6 tips for good health from Mary Washington Healthcare

Dr. Vranian’s Quick Tips for Good Health

1. Minimize meat consumption

2. Avoid “white” foods — Foods that have had the shell of the grain removed

3. Eat plenty of colored vegetables

4. Stay away from saturated fats, like heavy dressings and sweets

5. Exercise 30 minutes/day at least 3 – 5 days per week

6. Find some thing or somebody to love

– by Dr. Robert Vranian, Cardiologist, Mary Washington Healthcare

Popular ‘Attack the Fat Challenge’ starts Monday at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center

freedom, fitness, aquatic, manassas
Do you know about the Attack the Fat Challenge? It’s one of the most popular, effective, and fun weight-loss programs at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center
It’s open to anyone, at any fitness level.
Robin Frey is a fitness program coordinator, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and the director of Freedom Attack the Fat Challenge at Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in Manassas. We spoke with her to get the 


What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?

“It’s more of a full spectrum weight loss program and it runs for eight weeks…it’s based on focusing on weight loss but the overall effort that we do is that we want to promote and create lifestyle changes, not just during the eight weeks. For most people it’s just the starting point. A lot of people do it repeatedly because it works for them…and depending on the amount of weight they wish to lose, it may not happen in eight weeks.”   
What do participants do while in Attack The Fat Challenge? 
“Well actually the whole concept is they do train…and it’s based on percentage of weight loss…we make it a challenge so that it has some competitive edge to it but the overall focus is just to create a balance of accountability…to continue with fitness efforts for health, not necessarily for fitness. In other words, this is based on health and wellness, getting people appropriate nutrition and just trying to create a consistent effort with lifestyle change, it’s long term.”
 How much does the program cost?
“It [the program] breaks down to 20 dollars a session and the total cost is $480 but you’re getting 24 sessions, 24 full one-hour sessions…then in addition to that they get the support through nutrition tips and guidance…and body composition testing as well.” Frey also mentioned that there is an additional cost to non-members of the Freedom Center. 
 Attack-the-Fat-2015-flyer-791x1024How long does the challenge last? 
“Participants train three days a week with a trainer so it’s three one-hour sessions so they’re basically getting 24 training sessions as a group within that eight weeks, three times a week. In addition to that support that we offer is through our smart lab for evidence based testing for body composition or those types of things and also we do weekly weigh-ins”.
Is the Attack The Fat Challenge a seasonal program? 
“It’s twice a year, typically we do it  in February, March and then again in September.”
Is it too late to sign up? 
“The Attack The Fat Challenge  starts on Monday, Feb. 2. Registration does require you to be registered prior to the program but we work with people as well.”
Why did Frey get involved with the Attack The Fat Challenge?
“Well I started it, actually it’s been six years running now. I just felt that there was a need here at the Freedom Center to create programming in small groups that could be something that could bring more of an effort of accountability to each other, that tends to help. People can do training all the time but when they have other people depending on them to be part of their team, their group, it’s very successful. The success rate is much higher as far as them making the sessions, having to be responsible for that weekly weigh-in and then they bond and create groups that continue to train after that. We just didn’t have anything happening here in that capacity in programming.”
How does the Attack The Fat Challenge stand apart from similar programs?
“We were probably the original in this area. I know other facilities have programs similar to what we do, it’s a basic concept of accountability, through training, weigh-ins, and nutrition information…it’s just been very, very successful for us here. This our sixth year I believe, might even be longer. It tends to work. We provide a variety of workouts through different types of training. We may have them in the pool, TRX suspension training, circuit training, functional core…in other words we do a little bit of everything that we offer here…within those 24 sessions they’re getting a very large variety of different modalities of training.”
Why do people sign up?
Participants will] form groups and become friends and bond in that respect and want to continue to do it again, that kind of thing….plus we’ve had people that have lost over 100 pounds…it’s been very effective overall.” 


Teen wins NYC trip with “Say I Won’t” video with Manassas City Police Department

#SayIWont, manassas city police department

Captain Trey Lawler and Chief Doug Keen stand behind Mark Johnson.

In December, City of Manassas resident Mark Johnson had an idea for the #SayIWont video contest put on by Grammy Award winner Lecrae Moore and Reach Records. The video contest asked participants to make a 15 second video showing how “you’re not scared to be different.” Mark’s video featured members of the Manassas City Police Department.

Mark Johnson had the idea, in light of current happenings in other areas of the country, to show a positive relationship between the Manassas City Police Department and a City resident. His video shows him coming into MCPD Roll Call and encouraging the officers about to go out in the field.

Mark went to Osbourn High School in the City of Manassas. After a rocky start, including being expelled from school, Mark went back to Osbourn to finish high school with an advanced diploma. When asked why he chose the Manassas City Police Department to feature in his video, Mark said he remembered the great conversations he had in high school with Officer Cahill and he used that contact to make the video happen. 

On Dec. 12, while attending the Manassas City Police Department holiday luncheon, Mark received a phone call from Reach Records saying he had won the national video contest and had won a trip to New York City to accompany Lecrae Moore to a Brooklyn Nets game.

“We are honored that Mark chose the MCPD to feature in his video,” said Chief Doug Keen from the Manassas City Police Department. “Mark Johnson’s video sheds a positive light on relationships with police officers and those relationships are something we want to promote in the City of Manassas. We congratulate Mark on his award winning video.”

Johnson traveled to New York City in December.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

City of Manassas Citizen Satisfaction Survey results are in

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Manassas ranks above average in 8 Citizen Satisfaction categories surveyed

In a survey conducted by one of the nation’s leading community-based market research firms, results showed that citizen satisfaction in the City of Manassas is significantly above national and regional benchmarks in a number of service areas. Overall, three categories stood out: the overall quality of citizen services provided; the overall quality of water and sewer utilities; and the effectiveness of communication with the public.

Categories where the City of Manassas scored significantly higher than the national and regional benchmarks include:

  • Maintenance of streets
  • Sidewalks and infrastructure
  • How safe residents feel in their neighborhood at night, in commercial/business areas of the City and in City parks
  • Maintenance of neighborhood streets
  • Cleanliness of City streets
  • Access to information about City services
  • Opportunities to participate in local government 
  • Satisfaction with residential garbage collection and residential curbside recycling

The percentage of residents satisfied with customer service is 15 percent higher than the national average. Survey participants responded more than 20 percent above the national average when asked how satisfied they were with customer service in regards to response time and customer service experience.

“Having worked with City staff for the last year, I know how our dedicated staff goes above and beyond to provide services to the community,” said City Manager W. Patrick Pate. “I am extremely proud that resident opinions show that City of Manassas staff are significantly above the nation in customer service.”

City Council and staff are pleased with the results, not only because they highlight what the City is doing right, but because the survey shows what priorities the community has in coming years. Major services that were recommended as top priorities for investment over the next few years include: overall flow of traffic and ease of getting around; overall quality of public education; and overall quality of economic development.

ETC Institute used a random sample of households within the City of Manassas for this survey. They had a goal of 400 completed surveys being returned to provide this data and received 405 surveys from all areas of the City of Manassas. To read the survey results presented by ETC Institute, visit manassascity.org/CSS.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Declining birth rate no big deal for Prince William region

Fewer women in the U.S. are having babies.

The national birth rate declined in 2013 to 3.93 million births, continuing a six-year drop off. Women between the ages of 15 and 44 last year bore  an average of 1.86 babies, and that’s below the 2.1 average the National Center for Health Statistics said is necessary for a stable population.

Locally, the number of live births at Novant Prince William Medical Center in Manassas fluctuated over the past five years. The hospital was the only local medical center in Prince William and Stafford counties to respond to our records request. The hospital  averaged nearly 2,040.8 babies born over the past five years.

Over time, the numbers have remained steady with the exception of this year’s number, which accounts only for the first 11 months of 2014. Take a look at the numbers the hospital submitted to Potomac Local:

  • 2010=2,177
  • 2011=2,305
  • 2012=2,135
  • 2013=2,015
  • 2014 (through November) =1,572

The down economy is to blame for the decrease in the birth rate. Many millennials are trying to find work or move up at their current job, and that, for some, means putting off starting a family.

In other parts of the U.S., a declining birth rate spells trouble for city populations, as well as companies looking to find workers to fill jobs. In the Washington, D.C. area, things are a bit different. People keep moving here and that, at least for now, offsets any the effect of any population decrease.

“In the last two years, we’ve seen changes in what drives population growth in our metro area,” said Jeannette Chapman, with the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis.

Domestic migration in the Washington area – people moving here from other places in the U.S. – has dropped off while international migration to the area has increased.

Locally, Prince William County and Manassas City has seen more cases of international migration over the past two years while Stafford County to the south has seen more cases of domestic relocation. A number of factors could play into Stafford’s case, including home prices and housing inventory, said Chapman.

The Center for Regional Analysis compares the Washington, D.C. to Houston, Phoenix, and Seattle. In Virginia, military bases have been impacted by sequestration and thousands of jobs have been lost due to federal cutbacks. 

Historically, when the economy tanks federal agencies here ramp up to find a solution to the problem, and that brings in more workers and people.

So, that declining birth rate?

“It’s not a big deal for us; that’s only part of the story,” said Chapman. “If in the longer term things continue to decline, that will change the national narrative, and that could have an effect on our economy here.”

Health Insurance Enrollment Begins at Evergreen Clinic in Manassas

Enrollment in the federal Healthcare Marketplace, commonly known as Obamacare, began Saturday.

The Greater Prince William Health Center Evergreen Clinic in Manassas welcomed Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to a health insurance enrollment party held by the clinic Saturday.

This is the second enrollment period for the federal healthcare program created by the Affordable Healthcare Act of 2010.

“We want to be the center of Marketplace enrollment in prince William County. We’ve been the recipient of federal grants under the Affordable Healthcare Act, so it’s really important to do this service for the community,” said heath center director Frank Principi.

Principi said Gov. Terry McAuliffe has made more resources available to his federally qualified health center to promote the open enrollment period now through Feb. 15, 2015. More money was also provided to the clinic to double the number of enrollment counselors this year to six.

When visitors to the clinic came in Saturday, many had the option of working one-on-one with a counselor to sign up or renew their healthcare options. Translators assisted those who spoke Spanish.

About 15 computers were set up in a conference room for users who didn’t require one-on-one assistance.

“We’ve been told to prepare for various situations, like for someone who might come in with little insurance, and for someone that may have been insured for a long time and not know what to expect when enrolling in a new program,” said Emily Riley Roller, with the Virginia Community Healthcare Association.

Sylvia Burwell succeeded Kathleen Sibelius as Health and Human Services Secretary earlier this year following Sibelius’ resignation.  


‘Marketplace Party’ Offers Free Insurance Enrollment, Flu Shots

: Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center’s Evergreen office in Manassas, announcing that   Virginia is one of four states to have been awarded a $9.3 million federal grant to help people get insured during the open enrollment period for Health Insurance Marketplace, Nov. 15-Feb. 15.

Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center’s Evergreen office in Manassas.

The Greater Prince William Community Health Center will kick off its second annual “Marketplace Party” with Affordable Care Act open enrollment walk-in services on Saturday, November 15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The all-day enrollment services are free and open to the public, held at the new Evergreen Health Center located at 9705 Liberia Avenue, Suite 201, Manassas, Virginia.

Certified Application Counselors (CAC) will be available to help individuals and families understand insurance eligibility requirements and to enroll in the plan of their choice. CACs can also explain IRS tax penalties for not enrolling and monthly insurance plan premiums. Bilingual (Spanish) CACs will also enroll and renew eligible individuals and families in Medicaid.

The day-long event will also feature education sessions, flu shots, Center tours and free lunch for the whole family. Free flu shots will be given to all individuals who complete the enrollment process. “We are working with our community partners across the state so that more residents realize the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, helping them to secure the peace of mind that comes with health care coverage for their families,” said Frank J. Principi, Executive Director of the Center. “We want more of our working families to have affordable access to quality care, keeping children in school and their parents at work.”

In addition to the Marketplace Party, the Health Center, a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with locations in Woodridge and Manassas, will offer enrollment assistance by appointment throughout the open enrollment period, which runs Nov. 15, 2014 through Feb. 15, 2015. Last year, the Center assisted more than 7,000 individuals with health coverage during the first annual open enrollment period. The Center’s staff speaks English and Spanish.

More information about the Greater Prince William Community Health Center is available at gpwhealthCenter.org or info@gpwhealthcenter.org. Marketplace Party updates are posted at Facebook.com/GPWHealthCenter. To schedule a medical or dental appointment with one of the Center’s doctors, call 703-680-7950.

Ebola Prompts Leaders Urge Governor to Ban Travel from Africa

Prince William Medical Center to serve as Ebola treatment center


A hospital just outside Manassas will play a critical role in the event someone in our area contracts Ebola.

Designated as an Ebola treatment hub is Prince William Medical Center by the company that owns it and other hospitals in North Carolina, as well as the Haymarket Medical Center here in Virginia: Novant.

“We want to bring additional comfort to our communities who have expressed concern than an isolated room is not as safe as an isolated dedicated unit,” said Tom Zweng, MD, chief medical officer for Novant Health. “Our current protocols are safe and follow CDC recommendations; however, we wanted to take extra caution should the need arise.”

Prince William Medical Center will also accept Ebola patients from other area hospitals that are not equipped to treat the disease. So far, no area resident has contracted the deadly virus.

But Thomas Duncan, a man who passed through Dulles International Airport on his way from Liberia, Africa to Dallas late last month, became the first person in the U.S. to die from Ebola. Since the two other nurses who treated Duncan inside a Dallas hospital have fallen ill from Ebola.

Three Virginia politicians are now urging Gov. Terry McAuliffe to urge the Federal Government to place a ban on travel from west African nations to the U.S.

Manassas Delegate Bob Marshall, Frederick County Delegate Mark Berg, and Virginia Senator Dick Black all signed a three-page letter to the governor that outlined their case for a travel ban. The letter states that African countries Senegal and Nigeria banned travel to and from affected Ebola countries, and since then has seen the rate of infection drop.

“The most preventive method is: don’t expose Americans to it,” said Del. Bob Marshall.

But some have opposed banning such travel from the U.S. due to the negative economic impact it could have on already poor west African nations. Marshall says Dulles Airport is the second most used gateway to the U.S. for travel between here and Africa. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is third.

“Dead people don’t buy anything,” said Marshall on the prospect of negative economic impacts.

The Delegate was clear to point out that medical teams should still be allowed to charter flights to west African nations to send help to treat the virus.

Back at the hospital, this the latest new piece of Ebola-related announcement from the healthcare organization. Officials there are calling this a “centralized” approach that will allow the company to focus its training and resources into a handful of centers rather than having all of their hospitals equally equipped to treat patients who have contracted the virus.

RACSB Plans Stafford Open House

STAFFORD, Va. — The Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) will host a series of open house events their five outpatient clinics. The events are an opportunity for RACSB to provide local and state elected officials as well as community members with an update on the community-based mental health, intellectual disability, substance abuse, prevention, and early intervention services offered by RACSB. 

An event in Stafford will be held on Wednesday, October 29 at the Stafford County Clinic, Charles A. Cooper Building, 15 Hope Road from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Novant Health Announces ‘TrueBeam’ as Cancer Treatment Option

GAINESVILLE, Va. – Novant Health’s cancer center in in Gainesville has added a new tool to its center at the entrance of Lake Manassas.

The “TrueBeam” system is designed to perform sophisticated surgeries, and it will expand the treatment options for those with challenging cases of cancer, according to a hospital spokeswoman who released the following statement:

The system works by choreographing highly sophisticated systems—imaging, beam delivery and motion management—and makes it possible to deliver treatments quickly while monitoring and compensating for tumor motion. It will enable faster, accurate tumor targeting in the treatment of challenging cancers throughout the body, including those in the brain, spinal cord and lung. The $6 million construction project is expected to be complete with the new TrueBeam system operational in the spring of 2015.

“TrueBeam is a breakthrough technology that enhances our ability to treat cancer and other diseases with noninvasive image-guided radiosurgery,” said Dr. Sanjeev Aggarwal, medical director of Novant Health Cancer Center. “It represents a quantum leap in terms of the spectrum of advanced treatment options we can offer patients fighting serious disease.”

Improving the patient experience
TrueBeam also offers features to improve the patient experience. The machine’s mechanisms run smoothly, quietly and fast. Three closed-circuit television systems and a two-way audio system allow for comprehensive monitoring of the patient from outside the treatment room and facilitate interactions between patient and therapist. Enhanced technology enables music to be played during the short treatments, helping to create a more soothing treatment environment.

Fast, precise treatments
The system can deliver treatments 2.4 to 4 times faster with a dose delivery rate of up to 2,400 monitor units per minute—double the output of most other radiosurgery systems, including CyberKnife. This is important, as independent studies have shown that with faster treatments there is less tumor and patient movement.

“Intelligent” automation further speeds treatments with an up to five-fold reduction in the number of steps needed for imaging, positioning and treating patients compared with earlier Varian technology. A complex radiosurgery that typically takes 30 to 60 minutes can be completed in just 5 to 20 minutes. 

Novant Health Cancer is nationally recognized by the American College of Radiology, and is a vital part of Novant Health’s comprehensive cancer care program. That program includes Novant Health Prince William Medical Center whose cancer care is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, and the Novant Health Breast Center, recognized by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. The collaborative and multidisciplinary clinical care team treat cancers, including bladder; bone; brain; breast; colorectal; esophageal, gynecologic, head and neck; lung; pancreatic, prostate; skin; stomach; and testicular.

Hospital Rolls Out ‘Community Care Cart’ for Patients

081214 cart
, Va. — Sentara Hospital’s Auxiliary volunteer group has decided to launch a ‘Community Care Cart’ as a new and innovative way to provide care for patients in their hospital.

The cart aims to provide free items to help provide the patients with some relief and brighten their day. On the cart there are small donated things like lotions, back scratchers and crossword puzzles that patients can have, free of charge.

For Jim Cassidy and his wife, who both volunteer at the hospital as patient reps, the Community Care Cart adds another element to patient care that they feel is valuable.

“You try to put a smile on the patient’s face. You spend time with someone – because some of these patients – if they come from a nursing home, they have no other visitors. You are their visitor. And now with this new program, the Community Care Cart, that’s just an extra feather you’re putting out there to them,” Jim said.

Nan Wehmeyer, another volunteer with the auxiliary, agreed that the cart is a way to connect with Sentara’s patients.

“I do it because I look at the Community Care Cart as a conduit. It gets me in the room with a patient, and it allows me to get to know the patient, and that’s how I bond with them. Yes, the cart is giving things away that are free, and are things that they need, but more importantly it’s me bonding with them,” Wehmeyer said.

The auxiliary that makes the cart possible is a volunteer-based organization with 300 active volunteers comprised of adults and juniors. The junior program component is a way for high school students to get involved and give back to their community, providing them with valuable experiences at the hospital.

“We have the most robust and comprehensive junior program in Northern Virginia. That’s my opinion, and I say that because we have a year-round junior program,” said Phim Gilberry, the hospital’s Volunteer Coordinator.

As a whole, the auxiliary serves many functions at the hospital. “In addition to donating volunteer hours, our auxiliary [volunteer group] also does fundraising through various activities…Money raised benefits the community and the auxiliary has a long history of purchasing and donating much needed medical equipment and other resources,” Gilberry said.

Among the group’s many accomplishments was the recent donation of a mobile health van, which cost $130,000, purchased with funds raised by the auxiliary. The van is frequently out in the community providing much needed services.  To raise funds for their projects and donations to the hospital, the auxiliary hosts sales, fundraisers and events throughout the year.

When working in the hospital, the 300 volunteers assist in administrative functions, running the hospital’s gift shop and serving as patient reps to advocate for patient’s needs.

“The things that we do here [as volunteers] are much different than what I’m told other volunteers do at other hospitals. And when I leave for the day, I feel like I’ve done something of value,” said Edie Lewis, a volunteer in the auxiliary.

Free Clinic Plans Fiesta to Celebrate Opening of New Center in Woodbridge

WOODBRIDGE, Va. –– It’ll be a fiesta at the Prince William Area Free Clinic.

The clinic will celebrate the opening of its unified health center on Church Hill Drive in Woodbridge by holding a special dinner on Aug. 16.

“We wanted to have a community event where our patients and the community can celebrate,” said Prince William Area Free Clinic Director Linda Franklin.

The idea is the brainchild of several volunteers and patients at the clinic, as many were looking for a way to give back the agency that has helped them.

Diners can expect burrito, enchilada, tostada, rice and beans on each plate followed by a desert, said Franklin. Todos and Americana markets will donate all of the meat and other items to make the celebration possible.

A guitarist will also play music while event goers eat their meals.

Tickets for the dinner are $7 for adults, $5 for children under 12 years old. The clinic is located at 13900 Church Hill Drive in Woodbridge.

Last year, the Prince William Area Free clinic saw patients in more than 15,000 medical visits, 240 dental visits, and more 20,000 hours of volunteer time were donated to the clinic by dedicated volunteers. 

Coyote Spotted outside Manassas

MANASSAS, Va. — A coyote was spotted in the Buckhall area of Prince William County, just outside Manassas, the county Health District office reports.

A county resident saw the animal and alerted authorities. Health District says coyotes are commonly found in Virginia, often seen in suburban subdivisions. Some coyotes can carry rabies, though officials say it’s rare.

If seen during daylight hours, the animal is probably searching for food. They are known to make dens under porches and decks, as well as in crawl spaces, according to the Health District.

Here’s more in a press release:

Coyotes typically weigh between 30 and 45 pounds and have long, thick fur that is often blond/reddish-brown or tan/grayish-black with a small white spot on the center of the chest. They have long, bushy, black-tipped tails; pointed ears; and a long slender snout. When running, coyotes carry their tail below the level of their backs.

Coyotes are opportunistic and territorial, and will prey on unattended small dogs and cats. However, because coyotes are known to have an instinctive fear of people, human attacks are very rare. Still, a rabid coyote, or any domestic or wild animal that contracts rabies, may attack humans or pets without warning.

The Prince William Health District recommends the following tips: 

Animals look for places to den and raise their young. To prevent this, close and seal all openings under and into buildings.

Keep brushy areas in your yard cut back to prevent cover for coyotes.

Do not feed coyotes or any other wildlife. If anyone in the neighborhood is feeding wildlife, it can cause trouble for everybody. Feeding wildlife will cause coyotes and other wildlife to lose their natural fear of humans. Follow these tips to limit unintentional food sources:

Keep trash inside until the morning of trash pickup or place trash in an animal-proof container, such as a metal or plastic trash can with a tight-fitting lid.

Do not leave pet food outside; keep pet feeding areas clean.

Remove bird feeders when nuisance species have been seen around them, such as rats, rodents, squirrels and others.

Clear fallen fruit around trees, which could attract insects, rodents and other wildlife, which, in turn, can attract predators, such as coyotes.

Keep small pets inside as much as possible. When they go outside, put them on a leash or install coyote-proof fencing to protect unsupervised pets. Small pets may be viewed by a coyote as prey. Larger dogs are viewed as a threat – particularly from January to June while mating and birthing pups.

If you observe a coyote or any other wildlife or pets in your community exhibiting signs of rabies, such as stumbling, foaming at the mouth or showing aggression, contact the Prince William County Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500.

If the above listed techniques do not keep coyotes away, contact a “critter control” service company for further assistance or contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ toll-free wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003. The Prince William County Animal Control Bureau does not routinely respond to nuisance wildlife issues unless there is a concern about a rabid animal. For further information and resources, visit:




For more information on rabies, visit the Virginia Department of Health website at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/DEE/Rabies/



‘The House,’ Community Colleges, Youth for Tomorrow Awarded Grants from Potomac Health Foundation

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The Potomac Health Foundation announced $2.7 million in funding for area organizations that provide access to better healthcare.

The grants were awarded to 26 organizations in what was dubbed a competitive application process that spanned December 2013 through June of this year.

Here’s more in a press release:

Earlier this year Potomac Health Foundation dedicated its annual large grant program to Mr. Howard L. Greenhouse. Mr. Greenhouse, who is a resident of Woodbridge, was a founding trustee of Potomac Hospital in 1972. He served continuously on the Potomac Hospital Board for more than 25 years, becoming Chairman Emeritus of Potomac Hospital Foundation in 1998. He is a founding and current Board member of Potomac Health Foundation.

The newly announced grants will be distributed to 26 health related programs serving residents of north Stafford, eastern Prince William County and Lorton communities. This year an emphasis was placed on programs designed to prevent illness and chronic disease in the areas [of] oral health, diabetes and obesity, congestive heart failure, and mental health.

Dr. Carol Shapiro, who chairs the Foundation’s volunteer Grants Committee, said “the Board is excited about the originality of the 8 new programs we are funding, and very pleased with quality of the 18 programs we are funding again this year.  Together these health programs will touch thousands of lives.”

Since 2011 Potomac Health Foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants to 62 different programs to promote access to health care, disease prevention and innovation.

Potomac Health Foundation is an independent, 501 (c)(3) private health foundation, whose mission is to improve the health of the community. It serves the communities of eastern Prince William County, north Stafford and Lorton.

The Potomac Health Foundation was founded shortly before Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge changed its name to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

Here’s a list of the grant winners:

Organization Program Grant Award

1 American Heart Association, CPR Anytime: $50,400.00
2 ASPIRA Association, Inc., Promoting Health and wellness by Empowering Latino Youth and Community: $90,341.50
3 Change in Action, Inc., Behavioral Management for Healthy Relationships: $181,813.00
4 Greater Prince William Community Health Center, Expanding Access to Dental Services in Prince William County: $70,510.00
5 Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation, MCCP Foundation Project Pearly Whites – Lorton: $42,007.00
6 Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation, Medical Care for Children Partnership Foundation: $47,158.00
7 Northern Virginia Family Service, Prince William HealthLink: $69,827.00
8 Nueva Vida, Inc., Reducing fragmentation and improving continuity of care across the breast cancer continuum: $91,076.00
9 Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission Transportation Voucher Program, to facilitate access to health care needs: $401,701.00
10 Prince William County Dept of Social Services, Case Coordinator for Health and Supporting Services: Access for the most vulnerable homeless adults: $29,990.00
11 Prince William County Public Schools, Coordinated Mental Health Support for At-Risk Youth: $86,236.00
12 Prince William County Public Schools, Human Trafficking Prevention, Identification, and Referral: $78,713.00
13 Prince William County Public Schools,Prince William County School of Practical Nursing: $31,500.00
14 Prince William Health District BEAT Cancer Breast Education, Awareness & Treatment: $60,779.00
15 Prince William Soccer, Inc. The Courage F.U.N. Project: $25,777.00
16 Project Mend-A-House, Inc., Preventing Falls for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities: $85,000.00
17 Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging The RAAA, Aquia Garrisonville Heathcare Project: $30,000.00
18 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center CHF, Care Transitions: $125,000.00
19 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Family Health Connection Outreach Worker: $25,367.00
20 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, Hispanic Diabetes Outreach Program: $60,646.00
21 Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center Sentara, Potomac Women’s Health Mammovan: $360,461.00
22 StreetLight Community Outreach Ministries, Permanent Supported Housing & Respite Care for Medically Fragile Homeless Adults: $49,990.00
23 The Arc of Greater Prince William/INSIGHT, Inc., Medical Case Management: $68,000.00
24 The House, Inc. Student Leadership Center The House, Inc.’s EmpowerMEnt Center: $159,000.00
25 Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, Potomac Health Foundation Fellows Program: $125,000.00
26 Youth For Tomorrow, YFT Diagnostic and Assessment Center: $213,123.50
Total: $2,659,416.00

Sentara, MedSynergies Form Altea Health to Manage Practicing Physicians’ Books

WOODBRIDGE, Va. –– Physicians practicing at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center have formed a new company that will help physicians keep their financial records straight.

Sentara, a non-profit healthcare organization that operates Sentara Northern Virginia Hospital and medical facilities in Lake Ridge and Lorton, has founded a joint venture with Texas-based MedSynergies that will allow doctors to use new financial tools to reach and track their patients.

A Sentara spokeswoman says this move will allow doctors more time to focus on their patients and less time on billing.

Here’s more in a press release:

MedSynergies Inc. and non-profit health system Sentara Healthcare announced today that MedSynergies will deliver physician management and business services as part of the companies’ joint-venture management services organization (MSO), Aleta Health. Through Aleta Health, MedSynergies will help physicians manage their practices so they can focus on delivering quality health care to their patients.

“Physicians today should be able to concentrate on keeping their patients well rather than having to dedicate valuable appointment time to day-to-day business functions,” said Stephen Porter, corporate vice president, Northern Virginia, Sentara Healthcare. “Working with MedSynergies allows us to collaborate with physicians’ practices to expand our collective community health initiatives while delivering on our mission of exceptional patient care.”

Physicians affiliated with Aleta Health will have access to the MedSynergies MSIGHT solutions suite, which optimizes operations and provides meaningful information and analytics to help healthcare providers make more informed decisions. Physicians will use MSIGHT for patient outreach, referral and scheduling, revenue cycle management, human resources, as well as reporting and analytics.

By standardizing many of these functions and using best practices, Aleta Health physicians will improve productivity and efficiency, lower costs and have more time to dedicate to a comprehensive care model for patients. Once the phased implementation is complete, MedSynergies will provide these services to approximately 250 physicians in Northern Virginia.

“This MSO model gives physicians access to a wealth of valuable services while still allowing their practices to remain financially independent,” said James Dye, chief development officer, MedSynergies. “This agreement expands the MedSynergies footprint into Virginia and allows our teams to combine experience with a proven solution to improve practice operations while driving revenue growth.”

As a national leader in developing and operating physician management services organization, MedSynergies processes nearly 12 million patient visits each year and handles more than $1 billion in billing and collections for its 8,000-plus providers nationwide.

Aleta will serve physicians that practice under Sentara’s roof, as well as independent doctors.

Stafford Hospital Recognized for Minimally Invasive Gynecology Surgery

STAFFORD, Va. — Stafford Hospital has been recognized for their advances in minimally invasive surgery.

Here’s more in a press release:

Stafford Hospital was recently designated as a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG).  This means that Stafford Hospital’s GYN Surgery program, under the medical directorship of Dr. Kurian Thott, has demonstrated excellence in minimally invasive GYN surgery.  The COEMIG program ensures that the safest, highest quality of care is delivered to minimally invasive gynecology surgery patients worldwide.  Stafford Hospital is one of only 5 Virginia hospitals that have been designated a COEMIG facility by the AAGL Surgical Review Board.

Dr. Kurian Thott, a local OB/GYN with advanced training and expertise in minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures, led Stafford Hospital through the designation process.  COEMIG’s objective requirements and evaluation processes were developed in conjunction with leading minimally invasive GYN surgeons.  A commitment to patient care and success demands that the requirements be comprehensive, research-based and verified through a rigorous site inspection.

“Earning the center of excellence designation signified our ability to consistently deliver the safest, highest quality care to minimally invasive gynecologic surgery patients,” said Cathy Yablonski, Stafford Hospital Administrator.  “With Dr. Thott, Stafford Hospital is performing hundreds of minimally invasive GYN surgeries each year, with outstanding results.  Participation in this designation has further focused our team on exceeding clinical benchmarks and guidelines.”

The COEMIG program recognizes that the integrated efforts and resources of both the surgeon and the hospital are what provide lasting health benefits for patients.  Dr. Thott and Stafford Hospital meet these requirements and are committed to delivering safe, effective, evidence-based care for women requiring minimally invasive GYN surgery.

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