For a Better Commute. For Better Connected Communities in Prince William & Stafford, Va.
Reaching 150,000+ Monthly Users. Proudly Serving 170 Paying Subscribers.


Stafford’s cluster-buster vote may be a win for preservationists, but it doesn’t mean housing development will go away. It’ll be done on larger lots outside the cluster area.

Subscriber Only Content

SUBSCRIBE TODAY and get full access to Potomac Local! Support quality local journalism with a $6 monthly subscription, or a $65 annual subscription. It costs less than a good cup of coffee.

Or log into your account.

The children’s team at Sentara treats premature babies 24/7, keeping families close to home

Just as the weather breaks and it begins to grow warmer, the Women’s Health Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s team of doctors, nurses and staff are trading in their scrubs for tennis shoes.

It’s for the annual March of Dimes March for Babies walk.

It’s such a great way for all of us to celebrate, honor, and remember our babies with others who care so much about mother/baby health issues,” explains Florence Pullo, Interim Director for the Women’s Health Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, “Sentara actively participates in this campaign to emphasize how important we believe the health of mom and babies is and to unite the community in building a brighter future for all of us!”

It’s that dedication to teamwork and commitment to the smallest members of our community which is the cornerstone of everything that happens in the Women’s Health Center and is the foundation for Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s partnership with Children’s National Health System.

Children’s National is ranked number one for newborn intensive care in the U.S. News & World Report 2017-18 Best Children’s Hospital Survey.

“This partnership is a good thing for families and the community,” says Dr. Ashraf Afifi, MD, MPH. “The team from Children’s National offers their skills in both the full-term nursery and the intensive care nursey.”

Children’s National’s Neonatologist Dr. Afifi is the Medical Director of Neonatology at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. He was named a “top doc” in the recent “Best Of” edition of Northern Virginia Magazine. Since 2014, he has led the team, which staffs the special care nursery, a Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), providing expert care for the sick newborns of Woodbridge and the surrounding region.

“Sentara was looking for the skills and expertise of Children’s National on the ground. Right now, we keep the kids who are in need of neonatal intensive services in Sentara. However, if infants need extra help and support, we’ll stabilize them and a transport team flies or ambulances them to Children’s,” explains Dr. Afifi.

The Children’s team at Sentara consists of full-time, board-certified neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners for around the clock care.

“We are here 24/7. Not all specialty nurseries have this level of care around the clock. We do,” explains Children’s National NICU Nurse Practitioner, Rosemary O’Neill.

The 14-bed unit typically consists of six intensive care and eight step-down beds. As a Level II NICU, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is licensed to treat babies between 32 to 44 weeks of gestation and at least 1,500 grams or 3.3 pounds.

This partnership allows families to stay close to home as they deal with a premature baby.

“For our part, we want you to stay in the community, we have everything here. You don’t have to go elsewhere. We want to be full service for you. We’re trying to get the word out and inform more families because they’re not aware of those things,” explains O’Neill.

Last year there were 260 admissions to the intensive care nursery, which is reflective of how this collaborative approach has been effective and was needed by the community. Just over 15% of those babies were transferred to Children’s National for a higher level of care.

“This collaboration give families and caregivers more advanced technologies, more advanced diagnosis, more advanced devices,” says O’Neill. “Not only do we have access to Children’s National in D.C., but we also have access to all of Sentara’s resources to our south.”

Dr. Afifi agrees, citing the advancements in research and telemedicine.

“Super pediatric subspecialties, which are few and far between, we can now reach them by telemedicine. We can reach them from the comfort of the practitioner here at Sentara. For example, the peds pathology, endocrinology, cardiology –who will give the information and have the best advice.”

In the end, the partnership is a win for both the hospital and the community it serves.

“At the end of the day, you have a family caring for their child, they have their worries and anxieties for their child, will that child make it or not, how’s that child going to be, what will this child look like down the road in a year or two, having been born at 600 or 700 grams, all of this. Our team practicing here will definitely give them assurances and we can share all the numbers and statistics with them,” explains Dr. Afifi speaking to the team’s level of expertise.

It’s this commitment to the babies they serve and the families they get to know personally every day that motivates the team to participate in the March of Dimes walk. This year is no different as they’ll be part of the Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s March for Babies team on Sunday, April 29 at the Loy E. Harris Pavilion in Manassas.

Join the Sentara team and register for this family and dog-friendly event.

Winners of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Health & Human Services Award, ACTS continues to grow and help the community

Subscriber Only Content

SUBSCRIBE TODAY and get full access to Potomac Local! Support quality local journalism with a $6 monthly subscription, or a $65 annual subscription. It costs less than a good cup of coffee.

Or log into your account.

‘The 95 Express Lanes reversal will be adjusted this weekend’

From an email: 

Good afternoon Uriah,

The 95 Express Lanes reversal will be adjusted this weekend to support increased traffic visiting Washington D.C. for the “March For Our Lives” demonstration on Saturday, March 24.  

Here is what drivers should expect:

Saturday, March 24:

  • At about midnight, the southbound Lanes will begin closing for reversal. The Lanes will reopen in the northbound direction by about 2 a.m.
  • At about 10 a.m., the northbound Lanes will begin closing for reversal. The Lanes will reopen in the southbound direction by about noon and remain southbound until Sunday.

Sunday, March 25:

  • At about midnight, the southbound Lanes will begin closing for reversal. The Lanes will reopen in northbound direction by about 2 a.m.

  • Lanes will remain northbound until Monday at 11 a.m.  

Virginia health rankings reveal disparities among regions

RICHMOND – The affluent suburbs of Northern Virginia are the healthiest communities in the state, and lower-income localities, especially in the southern and western parts of the commonwealth, have the most serious health problems, according to a recent study.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that for the third year in a row, Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington are the healthiest counties in Virginia. They share low rates of premature death and a high percentage of adults with education beyond high school.

But Petersburg, Emporia and Martinsville ranked lowest in the foundation’s eighth annual county health report. Those three localities all had high unemployment and high rates of child poverty – factors associated with poor health.

The rankings are based on health outcomes and health factors. Health outcomes include the length and quality of life; health factors include behaviors such as smoking, access to care, social and economic conditions and physical environment.

“A lot of it has to do with things we call social determinants of health,” said Bob Hicks, Virginia’s deputy commissioner for community health services. “Where there is high unemployment and where there are schools not performing and the kids aren’t educated to a certain level, we see these trends continuing in poor health outcomes.”

Hicks and his team at the Virginia Department of Health use the statistics from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to start conversations about communities’ health needs and to work with residents to best utilize resources.

“We require each of the local health directors to be involved in doing a community health assessment,” Hicks said. “Resources are always limited so the assessment results in a ranking by the stakeholders [in the community] of what they would like to see addressed.”

In Petersburg, the community health assessments have led to efforts to reduce teen pregnancy. In 2011, the city’s teen pregnancy rate was 101 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19. According to the most recent report, the rate has dropped to 87 pregnancies per 1,000 females in that age category.

However, not every locality is showing progress. In 2016, Hopewell was ranked 118th in Virginia. But in the most recent report, Hopewell dropped to 126th among the state’s 133 counties and cities. Among the factors: Thirty percent of Hopewell residents live in poverty, and more than half of the children there live in single-parent households.

“You’ll find those [inequities] all over the place,” said Chris Gordon, chief of staff for community and health services. “Even if you look at the high-ranking countries like Loudoun and Fairfax, you’re going to find disparities in equity.”

Seven percent of people living in Fairfax are in poverty. While that is a small percentage, more than 1 million people live in Fairfax – and so nearly 80,000 of them are living in poverty.

Hicks said he hopes the data will lead to improvement in health across the state. “That is really the goal – to give people the opportunity to live in a healthy community.”

4 face murder charges after body found in burned car

WOODBRIDGE — Police in Prince William County say they filed murder charges against four people after a body was found inside a burning car in Woodbridge.

From police: 

Murder Investigation *ARRESTS – Detectives from the Homicide Unit have identified multiple suspects in connection to the ongoing homicide investigation after a body was discovered inside of a burning vehicle at Veterans Park in Woodbridge on March 15. Law enforcement authorities have arrested three adult men and one male juvenile for their involvement in the victim’s apparent murder. One of the adult men and the juvenile were arrested in Prince William County. The two remaining adult men were apprehended at a residence in Wilson, North Carolina by members of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force. Based upon the information obtained in the investigation, detectives have preliminarily identified the victim. The Medical Examiner’s Office is currently conducting further DNA analysis to confirm this identity. The victim’s identity will be released once confirmed and a next-of-kin has been notified. The cause of the victim’s death and the fire continue to be investigated by authorities. This case remains a joint investigation with the Police Department’s Homicide Unit and the Department of Fire & Rescue, Fire Marshal’s Office. More information will be released when available. The investigation continues.

Arrested on March 16:

                Manuel Enrique ROBLES LOPEZ, 21, of 8152 Claremont St in Manassas

                Charged with murder – accessory after the fact

                Court Date: Pending | Bond: Held WITHOUT Bond

                Arrested on March 17: [Juvenile]

                A 17-year-old male of Woodbridge

Charged with murder

Court Date: Pending | Status: Held at a Juvenile Detention Facility

                Arrested on March 20: [No photos available]

Erick Alexander CONTRERAS NAVARRO, 23, of the 8100 block of Claremont St in Manassas

Denis Ludwin ESPINAL ALVARES, 19, of the 7600 block of Livingston Rd in Oxon Hill, MD

Both suspects above are charged with murder

Court Date: Pending | Status: Awaiting Extradition 

Anyone with information on this investigation is asked to contact the Prince William County Police Department at 703-792-7000 or by submitting a webtip at