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How Sentara improves the prognosis in cases of Her2+ breast cancer

Pearl Hawver believes in the power of a positive attitude.

She also believes in the strength of preventative care, that’s why every year on her birthday she gives herself the best gift possible by making sure to get a mammogram.

That gift paid off in January 2015, when her routine mammogram discovered a lump in her in her right breast.

“My doctor said, ‘You have breast cancer.’  And I said, ‘Ok, what next?’ She said, ‘I’m waiting for you to react.’ I said, ‘You don’t call a person to tell them their mammogram was okay. So, I figured I had something.”

It’s that same direct, no-nonsense approach Pearl used to face her diagnosis of Her2+ breast cancer. She turned to the team of Dr. Farn Chan and Dr. Masoom Kandahari, Triple-Board Certified Hematology and Oncology Experts.

“The mission of our team is to implement a patient-centered environment where patients are at the core of discussion and decision making,” explains Dr. Kandahari, Medical Staff President at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, who has been treating patient in the Woodbridge area for almost 30 years.

“We often know all the cancer patients and share the responsibility in taking care of them, so patients won’t be with a completely new doctor who is not familiar with their case if one of us is not available. It also provides a unique opportunity for patients to have a second opinion in their care, without literally having to go to a separate location,” adds Dr. Chan, Chairman of the Cancer Committee and breast program leadership member of the hospital.

With Pearl’s diagnosis of HER2+ breast cancer, the doctors were able to consult with one another to determine the best course of action.

“Her2+ breast cancer tends to be more aggressive, associated with higher risk of recurrence and poorer prognosis in the absence of systemic therapy. However, prognosis has improved with the availability of Her2 targeted therapy.”

Pearl’s personalized medical plan included: six months of chemo, a lumpectomy, receiving radiation and then following up with a year of Her2 chemo. Her positive attitude helped lead the way.

“I did really well on chemo,” recalls Pearl, “I’m pretty laid back. I don’t let anything rent space in my head. I give it to God and we go from there. I don’t worry about things, I let the doctors take care of that,” says Pearl.

Pearl says part of the reason things went so well was because of the support she received from her family, especially her younger sister, Phyllis. Phyllis, also a breast cancer survivor, helped Pearl get to her assorted appointments, sat with her through chemo and provided the emotional and moral support she needed.

In the wake of Pearl’s recovery, Phyllis has even helped her channel her sewing talents to help fund breast cancer research.   

“Right now, I’m making pin cushion hats for Relay for Life,” says Pearl, “Last year, I did five tote bags and they went for $100 each!”

The 78-year-old is living her life to the fullest, spending time with her three kids, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, thanks to the team approach of Dr. Chan and Dr. Kandahari.

“Cancer is a journey and they are right there with you,” explains Pearl. “They were on top of everything and they were very good! They were considerate and kind. Plus, Sarah, the clinical nurse manager, was just wonderful during the chemo treatments.”

The multi-disciplinary team approach, in the office and within the Sentara Cancer Network, allowed Pearl to get state-of-the-art care. Sentara Healthcare is the first system in Virginia to be accredited as an Integrated Network Cancer Program by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, meaning connections to a network of doctors, researchers, and groundbreaking clinical expertise. Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center was the first in the area to offer Xoft® Radiation Therapy System for patients with early-stage breast cancer. This, coupled with the exemplary patient care of an Oncology Nurse Navigator, who guides patients and their family through the sometimes daunting experience of a cancer diagnosis, is all in an effort to improve health every day.

To schedule an appointment, call 703-523-1560 or visit for more information on women’s health imaging near you.

Prince William County and NAIOP to present I-95 and U.S. Route 1 development and redevelopment opportunities

Prince William County, the second largest and fourth fastest growing jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and NAIOP Northern Virginia, the region’s premier commercial real estate organization, will present I-95 and U.S. Route 1 Development and Redevelopment Opportunities in Prince William County, Virginia. The event will take place at 11:30 a.m., Thursday, October 11, 2018, in the Northern Virginia Regional Center for Workforce Education & Training (WRC).
Leaders in industry will share how the nationally significant 1-95 corridor, with inter-county connections to I-66, along with U.S. Route 1 widening, I-95 Express Lanes, and VRE improvements is the catalyst to positive transformational change for this economically critical Northern Virginia region.
Moderator, Jeffrey Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Prince William County Department of Economic Development and panelists will discuss the I-95 defense technology corridor, improved infrastructure to-date, increased private sector development and growth of the corridor offering multiple redevelopment opportunities, as well as incentives, hub zones and opportunity zones.
The Commonwealth of Virginia and Prince William County are investing more than $400 million to widen and improve roadways throughout the County over the next five years. These planned improvements will further reduce commute times for the County’s workforce and residents, as well as improve the overall infrastructure for businesses in the County.
To learn more, join us for networking and lunch!
WHEN: Thursday, October 11, 2018 – 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
HOW TO ATTEND: Click here to register or visit:
To contact NAIOP, please call Haley Yeager (703) 845-7080 or email:

Velocity Urgent Care Expands to Northern Virginia with Woodbridge location

WOODBRIDGE — Velocity Urgent Care is pleased to announce its newest walk-in urgent center in Woodbridge, Virginia at the Intersection of Daisy Reid Avenue and Prince William Parkway, just 1 mile west of Old Bridge Road.  The center will open for business on September 3, 2018, at 4565 Daisy Reid Avenue.  Velocity is eager to serve the needs of Woodbridge and Prince William County with the first of multiple planned new centers in Northern Virginia. 
Velocity Urgent Care features on-site digital x-ray, EKG, a basic menu of laboratory services, and its clinicians provide a full complement of urgent care services for unexpected injury and illness.  Velocity Urgent care is focused on the delivery of fast, quality and cost-effective health care for conditions that cannot wait for a primary care appointment but are not medical emergencies.  Common conditions treated include flu symptoms, coughs, earaches, headaches, sprains, strains, fractures, minor cuts, scrapes, and rashes.  Most insurance plans are accepted, including Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, and there is also a “no surprises” self-pay option. 

What differentiates Velocity Urgent Care from “run-of-the-mill” urgent care centers is its focus on what’s important to the patient.  “We put patients first in everything we do,” said Alan Ayers, Chief Executive Officer. “We know today’s health care consumer is extremely busy and nobody has time to be sick, so our goal is to get you back to ‘life’ as quickly as possible.”

As a partner with Sentara Healthcare, Velocity Urgent Care works with primary care physicians, providing a copy of the patient’s chart with authorization, and maintains referral relationships with local specialists and facilities for patients who require a higher level of care.  “The partnership between Velocity Urgent Care and Sentara Healthcare improves access, coordination, and affordability of care in Prince William County,” said Kathie Johnson, President of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

Velocity’s first Woodbridge location will be open 7-days-a-week from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Wi-fi and refreshments are available.  Patients seeking care can simply walk in or reserve their spot online at 
About Velocity Urgent Care 
Velocity Urgent Care currently has 13 locations across Virginia including Williamsburg, Virginia Beach (3), Carrolton, Gloucester, Newport News, Norfolk (2), South Boston, and Suffolk with additional locations planned.  Each center provides high-quality, walk-in medical for illness or injury that cannot wait for a primary care appointment but not severe enough to warrant an emergency room visit.  Licensed medical providers treat the flu, strep throat, rashes, dehydration, ear infections, concussions, sprains, strains, minor fractures and more.  For more information, visit

Preschool at the Manassas Park Community Center

The Manassas Park Community Center is devoted to bringing quality programs to families. Our Preschool has been a staple program for years. We had the chance to sit with two of our Preschool teachers, Arely Angel and Ragan Rohland, to discuss key points about the program.

Angel has seven years of experience working at the Manassas Park Community Center. She has a CDA (Child Development Associate) certificate, along with over 50 college credits on Early Childhood Education. She is currently working towards her Associate’s Degree. Rohland has six years of experience in early childhood development. She began her career at the Community Center working in Kids Korner, which is a childcare option for parents as they take part in various classes. After a few months, she transitioned to the Preschool division while obtaining an Early Childhood Certificate and an Associate’s Degree. They participated in numerous continuing education opportunities to aid in the growth of our Preschool program.

“Our Preschool program is a licensed and Virginia Quality rated program. Our curriculum emphasizes recreation with creative programs that encourage participation,” shared Angel. When asked about the importance of preschool, Rohland said “Preschool is an extremely important aspect of growth and development for children by preparing them for school. Within preschool, there is a focus on the developmental domains to help them transition into kindergarten.” Referring to specific aspects in the curriculum, Angel emphasized, “Children learn the value of education and respecting others’ thoughts and opinions. They also learn the value of self-awareness and confidence. Lastly, they learn the value of community, family, and independence.”

We prepare our classroom to create a welcoming, safe, and age-appropriate environment for our students by childproofing doorknobs and disinfecting all surfaces. It’s important to note that our classrooms are a peanut-free zone!

When asked about other events outside of the regular curriculum, Rohland said, “We host several events during the school year that promote community and family involvement. The first few Preschool events we have are the Pumpkin Patch, Harvest Dinner, and the Holiday Party. Spring events start with our Valentine’s Day Party, Easter Egg Hunt, Mother’s Day tea, Donuts with Dad, our Pool Party. At the end of the school year, we have our Senior Preschool Graduation to celebrate our kids.”

Applications for Preschool are accepted year round! If you have any questions regarding the program, contact Sue Jurjevic via email at or Arely Angel at

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park, VA. Managed by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation, the facility is home to basketball courts, a swimming pool, wellness areas, special events, and recreational classes. For more information visit us at or call at 703-335-8872.

FBI Agent battles Lymphoma 17 years after September 11th with the help of the Sentara Cancer Network

“I’ve seen a lot of pretty bad situations. I’ve worked explosive cases all around the world: the Embassy bombing in Africa, the Unabomber case, plane crashes in New York and Mexico. I’ve seen a lot of bad things in my 25 years as an agent, I don’t want to say I’m used to it, but that’s kind of the job I am there to do,” says FBI explosives expert, Thomas Mohnal.

Seventeen years ago when the planes hit the twin towers on September 11th, he received orders to get to New York City as soon as possible. As Mohnal sat in traffic that morning on Interstate 395, the unthinkable happened, another plane crashed, this time into the Pentagon.

“I’m parallel with the Pentagon in stopped traffic and I watched the plane crash. I was the first one to call into FBI headquarters and notify them that a plane just hit the Pentagon,” he recalls. The series of events made the Prince William County resident the first FBI agent on the scene, as well as one of the first, first responders.

“The flames and the fire burning was tremendous. I’ve done a lot of testing with explosive and gas-enhanced explosives, but I can’t even describe to you how big the fireball was when the plane hit,” he vividly remembers. “It pretty much encompassed the majority of the Pentagon.”

For next month and a half, Mohnal spent his days working recovery and investigating the Pentagon scene.

“The jet fuel that was burning, plastics, metals, and the debris were all airborne. It was bad,” he recalls.

As the years have passed, the survivors and first responders of that day have had to deal with another challenging reminder of our nation’s tragedy. According to the World Trade Center Health Program, more than 87,000 Americans have been diagnosed with severe health conditions, including cancer, in the wake of the attacks. Thomas Mohnal is one of them.

A miracle found within a ruptured appendicitis

It started nearly two years ago. In August 2016, the now 61-year-old came to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. In the course of his care, doctors had ordered a CT scan to assess the situation. It was there Mohnal learned he was dealing with more than just appendicitis.

“Sentara’s radiologist actually noticed at the very top of the CT scan, I mean the very top! Luckily, he was able to see it. He noticed three tumors and said it was consistent with lymphoma,” explains Mohnal.

The husband and father went from requiring surgery and consulting with a General Surgeon to meeting with Dr. Farn Chan, a Triple-Board Certified Hematology and Oncology Expert and Chairman of the Cancer Committee for Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

“Here I’m expecting a surgery for an appendix, and I was a little worried about the rupture, but now they’re telling me, ‘You also have lymphoma.’ It was a lot, but they did it in such a way that they calmed me, saying we caught it early,” remembers Mohnal.

Personalized Medicine for fighting lymphoma

Before Mohnal knew it, he was on a regimen to attack his tumors and combat his cancer. His tumors, which ranged in size from 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inches, didn’t respond to the first combination of drugs, that’s when Dr. Chan made the decision to change his therapy to “R-CHOP,” commonly used in the treatment of lymphoma.

“I lost all my hair. It was pretty bad, but the good thing about it was all was the nurses. Dr. Kandahari and the oncology nurse, Sarah, at Cancer & Blood Specialists of NOVA, are just perfect. They make the treatment very smooth and calming. Everyone is so professional and so knowledgeable,” says Mohnal.

Even though it wasn’t always the easiest of roads, Mohnal prides himself with never having missed a day of work while on his treatments.

“I can’t say enough good things about my care,” says Mohnal pausing, thinking about the what-ifs. “The way I’m looking at it, the radiologist who caught these tumors gave me a jump on my treatment. I never had symptoms, my physical and blood work were clear, if these tumors weren’t spotted when they were, they could have grown and spread to other organs, the treatment would’ve been a lot harsher, I can tell you that.”

Today Mohnal is feeling good. He’s living with his cancer and on a maintenance regimen which involves three-hour infusions, every eight weeks. His recent scans show one of his tumors is gone and the other two have decreased in size. 

“It’s the best news I’ve gotten in two years, I’ll tell ya that!” says Mohnal smiling. “Both Dr. Chan and Dr. Kandahari were thrilled to death. That was the best they were expecting, the results we’re getting are amazing.”

While Mohnal doesn’t know what the future holds, he doesn’t second-guess the past. When asked if he would change his actions from all those years ago, if he knew what it would mean for his health, his answer is simple.

“Never crossed my mind. I never thought about it. But once again, I was an FBI agent and that’s kind of what we do. Would I do it again? Absolutely,” he said.

September is Lymphoma Awareness Month. Lymphoma is a cancer of a part of the immune system, also called the lymphatic system. Lymphoma may develop in many parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, blood or other organs. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). It’s estimated nearly 75,000 people are diagnosed with NHL every year. In NHL, white blood cells, called T cells or B cells, become abnormal. There are more than 61 types of NHL.

To learn more about lymphoma, visit the Lymphoma Research Foundation website

Sentara Healthcare is the first system in Virginia to be accredited as an Integrated Network Cancer Program by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, meaning connections to a network of doctors, researchers, and groundbreaking clinical expertise. To learn more or find the provider that’s right for you, call 1-800-Sentara or visit

The Fauquier Bank aims to educate adults on homebuying 101, their kids on money

Buying your first home is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make. And the money-saving skillset needed to make the purchase is developed at an early age.

The Fauquier Bank will offer a two-part seminar this Saturday, September 29, from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m., at the Manassas Park Community Center.  

One part of the seminar will be called “Homebuying 101” which will give information about loan options and lingo that prospective homeowners should know.  

The second is “Teach Children to Save,” and is geared toward children ages 3 to 8-years-old. It’s a great place for mom and dad to bring their child while they learn about home buying.

It’s the perfect place for first-time home buyers to learn the basics of getting their dream home, and educate their children about basic money matters at the same time.

Both events are free to attend. Tony’s New York Pizza, of Manassas, a local’s favorite, will provide the delicious pizza.

The duality of the event is geared to help prospective homebuyers who may want to learn these things but who would otherwise be unable to attend because of needing to watch their children.

“We wanted to come up with a way to make the event successful but also allow the opportunity for people to come and not have to worry about ‘Well, what I am going to do with the kids?’”  said Assistant Vice President – Regional Branch Manager of The Fauquier Bank Cody Florence.

This is the first time that The Fauquier Bank has planned an event geared toward children.

Florence said that the bank is looking at doing more seminar type events geared towards children and teenagers in the future. Apartment complexes and other community businesses would be an ideal place to host similar seminars, and The Fauquier Bank hopes to collaborate with them for these types of events.

The children’s portion will talk about where children get their money – an allowance, doing well in school, having a lemonade stand – the difference between wants and needs, delayed gratification, and making budgets.

Florence explained that the children would do a simulation where they work with a budget of $100 and have to buy lunch for $5 and a jacket that’s $45. With the last $50, they draw a picture of what they want and then the adult leaders will explain whether that previous $50 can cover that item or not, and then lead the children through a budget.

During a game, children will have a tree with leaves that name certain products such as a tank of fuel, and if the child guesses the right price, they can put their leaf on the tree. The winner will receive a $10 gift certificate toward a savings account at The Fauquier Bank.

These games and interactive discussions are essential for children.

Karen Huff, a second-grade teacher at George C. Round Elementary school in Manassas, said, “Kids at that age put their wants before needs. They need to find out the difference between needs and wants…. I want that video game, but I need something else.”

Students also learn about the importance of money in the classroom.

“They can understand a lot more than we give them credit for,” she said.  “I don’t think it’s too early to start. As soon as they get a dime, they need to know what to do with that dime.”

Those who want to participate should RSVP by calling 540-349-0202.

The Manassas Park Community Center is located at 99 Adams Street in Manassas Park.

This post was written by Potomac Local for The Fauquier Bank, Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC, NMLS #462668.

Pastor heads back to the pulpit after a stroke

Gary Caruthers is used to using his voice to inspire, motivate and encourage. Usually, it’s a message associated with the bible, but these days he’s using his gift to educate about the dangers of stroke.

Caruthers’ life changed on a Thursday morning in April.

“I got up around 8 o’clock and got a phone call. In the process of that call, my speech became slurred, and somewhere during that conversation I hung up, stood up. I knew something was off,” remembers Gary.

Brenda, Gary’s wife of 47 years, knew instantly something was wrong.

“He was staggering around. When he tried to talk, his speech was slurred. I said, ‘Gary, what’s wrong with you? And he said, ‘I don’t know. I know I’m not talking right, but I don’t know why.’ And I said, ‘I do. You’re having a stroke!’”

Brenda immediately made sure Gary was seated and safe and then proceeded to call 911.

Gary’s care started even before he arrived at the hospital. Years ago, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center worked with Prince William County Emergency Services to develop a protocol so that potential stroke patients, like Gary, would receive care even before stepping foot inside the hospital. In a CODE STROKE, teams inside the hospital are alerted even before a patient arrives. In addition to the doctors and nurses in the Emergency Department, the alert signals to the teams in radiology (CAT scan) and a number of other departments an emergent case is imminent.

Time is of the essence when it comes to stroke. That’s why as soon as Gary arrived at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, a specially certified team of nurses, a stroke coordinator and a stroke facilitator instantly took him to get a CAT scan. It’s at that point telemedicine is incorporated for expedited care.

“We have a machine we bring into the CAT scan and the tele-neurologist can log on, wherever they are, and visualize that patient. They’re able to do an exam and speak to the patient. It’s pretty advanced,” explains Jessica Silcox, RN, MSN, Emergency Department Team Coordinator and founder of the hospital’s stroke team.

“The tele-neurologists have cameras and they can zoom in to the point they’re looking into a patient’s pupils to do an exam. That way the neurologist can determine quickly, if that patient is eligible for a clot-busting medication, or if another therapy is necessary. You lose two-million neurons a minute, so every minute literally counts in a stroke.”

It was determined Gary had a clot, but wasn’t eligible for the clot-bust medication. The decision was made Dr. Venu Vadlamudi, an Interventional Radiologist with Sentara Heart & Vascular Center, would perform a thrombectomy or clot removal.

“The faster it can be performed, the better chance a patient will have an improved outcome,” explains Dr. Vadlamudi. “The goal for the therapy, as supported by evidence in the literature, is to increase the chance a patient will be alive, functional and independent 90 days following a stroke.”

Two clots were pulled from Gary’s brain. Even though he stood up by his bedside six hours after the procedure, Gary still spent three days in Intensive Care and then several weeks in intensive outpatient rehabilitation.

“Each patient’s recovery after a stroke is variable, especially depending on the size/severity of the stroke with some patients having an immediate recovery after stroke, but many needing therapy and rehabilitation following their stroke,” says Dr. Vadlamudi.

Gary has worked hard to get back to where he was before his stroke, “After the stroke, my face was drooping. I couldn’t turn my eyes to the left. My left arm was totally paralyzed. My left leg was totally paralyzed. Plus, I had slurred speech,” he remembers. “After the thrombectomy with Dr. Vadlamudi, my face came back up, my speech came back, I could move my eyes, I had movement in my left arm and leg. It was rather miraculous!”

And, Gary isn’t ignoring this wake-up call. Since his stroke, he has changed his lifestyle- eating more chicken and fish, eliminating sugars from his diet and incorporating more exercise into his everyday life. The hard work is paying off, he has lost more than 30 pounds and is preparing to head back to the church he loves.

“The fact that my wife caught it so quickly was probably one of the contributing factors to getting swift treatment. The philosophy is time is brain and Dr. Vadlamudi said every minute counts,” says Gary.

Brenda recognized the problem and symptoms of a stroke through the acronym: F.A.S.T.  

  • Face: Does one side of the face droop when smiling?
  • Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
  • Speech: Is speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these symptoms, call 911 IMMEDIATELY.

Dr. Vadlamudi says this acronym bears repeating and is something everyone should commit to memory, “Interventions to help with acute stroke are time-sensitive, so rapid recognition and care are critical.”

If you suspect you or someone else is having a stroke, don’t drive, call 911. To learn more about stroke and to learn your risks, visit the “Know Your Risk” quiz at

Chick-fil-A Bristow’s charity golf tournament will benefit Patriot High School students working to make a better life

James Newman dreams of becoming a pilot. 

The 17-year-old student at Patriot High School is interested in all things aviation. Like most his age, he’s into video games. His favorite — a flight simulator. 

But before he can work is way into a career in the field of aviation, this teenager, like most is working a part-time job. He’s a barista at Starbucks. 

But, unlike other students, Newman is getting school credit for his work. 

He’s enrolled in a class called EMPLOY and life skills, where as many as 40 Patriot students, all with varying places on the autism spectrum, learn everything from basic life skills to the wherewithal of going out into the real world and working a job. 

“I come in with a smile. Even if its a crappy day, I try to make the customers happy,” said Newman.  

He’s worked at Starbucks for a year. Thanks to the EMPLOY class and his instructors, he’s learned simple tasks like how to make the correct change from a cash register to larger responsibilities, like household budgeting. 

“I knew what a paycheck was. I knew how to spend a paycheck but I didn’t know how to budget it,” he adds. 

Ryan Carter, 16, is also in the class. He’s into cooking food and riding rollercoasters. He’s got a YouTube channel of videos dedicated to the more than 80 coasters he’s ridden. 

To reach that number, he had to overcome his initial fear of coasters. Now, he hopes he can put that same determination into his future career. 

“I want to be a chef,” he said. 

He’s known for his own version of shrimp scampi, which includes a mixture of jumbo shrimp and jalapeño poppers. At home, and here at school, he’s encouraged to try new things. 

Tricia Weate and Brook Bell run the program at Patriot High School. Some students are enrolled in the life skills program where they get coaching on how to develop social skills and perform regular tasks. 

They learn the basics of kitchen food preparation and cooking, starting with washing hands, wearing gloves, using measuring cups, and it ends with making a meal.

They work the school’s mailroom, slotting mail for staff members to 237 mailboxes. They help set up and break down lunch shifts in the cafeteria.

In their classroom, they run a screen printing operation where they make t-shirts to raise awareness for autism.  

Other students in the program leave campus and go to restaurants and retail stores, where they work alongside their fellow employees. At Nando’s Peri Peri in Gainesville, some students greet restaurant guests, while others make food. At Fosters Grill, students deliver food. 

“They’re brilliant. We just want the community to see what we see,” said Bell. 

And some businesses have, like Smoothie King, which began providing their EMPLOY student workers with instructions on how to make drinks using color codes. It makes the process easier for them to understand. 

The instructors work with at least 20 community businesses and are always looking for more on which to partner. Some students are paid, while some work for class credit. 

“It’s not free labor. It’s also not ‘you’re so cute, let me help you out,” said Weate. “We want them to treat them like they treat their own staff.” 

“We don’t want sugar-coating. We want the real deal,” added Bell. 

The instructors are always looking for more funding for materials to teach their students, whether it be measuring cups or a replacement cash register to use in the classroom, something the program is in need of. 

The Second Annual Chick-fil-A Bristow Charity Golf Tournament on September 22 at Broad Run Golf & Practice Facility aims to do just that. The 18-hole four, four-person team event will welcome players at 8 a.m. for registration, and then they’ll take to the course for a 9 a.m. shotgun start. 

Chick-fil-A Bristow is looking for golfers for the event. It’s $75 for the public, $60 for cardholders, and $40 for full Broad Run Members. It includes a golf cart, range, and a lunch buffet. 

They’re also in need of corporate sponsors for the event. If you’re interested in playing or sponsoring, Chick-fil-A’s Susan Campbell would love to hear from you.

The proceeds from this charity golf tournament will go to benefit the children enrolled in the EMPLOY and life skills program at Patriot High School. 

“Without them starting this EMPLOY program, I would not have a job,” said Newman. “This class shows me there are many options out there for me.” 

Dedicated to her job, motivated by family, Sentara tech celebrates son’s recent success

It’s National Environmental Services Week. Environmental Service technicians play a critical role in the day to day operations of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

While you may see these members of the team focused on keeping our hospital clean and free of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), there is more to this dedicated staff, filled with people like Barbara Boateng.

For the last two years, Barbara has worked at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. She’s quick to offer a smile and a helping hand, making sure the medical offices and hospital rooms are cleaned to Sentara Healthcare’s rigorous standards.  

“Barbara is truly one of our shining stars within Sentara and the Sentara Northern Virginia Environmental Services Department. She exemplifies everything wonderful about working in healthcare,” explains Barbara’s boss, Kevin Smith, Director of Environmental Services.

While Barbara is dedicated to her job, she’s motivated by her family. She and her husband, Clement, immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana to provide a better life for their three children. Earlier this summer, years of hard work paid off when the family’s eldest son, Akwasi, graduated from college with a criminal justice degree and a minor in information technology.

“We were so happy! It’s exciting to see your son striving to fulfill his dreams and then accomplishing them. We were so proud!” says Barbara, remembering the moment she saw her son crossing the stage and receiving his diploma from Radford University.

It’s a hope every parent has for their child.

“The dream I have for my children is for all of them to become successful in the future in everything they pursue,” explains Barbara.

Her son graduating from college is the culmination of that. It’s something he realizes.

“After all the hard work, I could finally say I made it across the stage. I was very grateful to have them by my side to support me throughout my college years. It was definitely a joyful moment, I felt like a proud son,” Akwasi explains.

This achievement is something Akwasi doesn’t take for granted, he realizes the immense sacrifices his parents have made for him, his brother and sister.

They have dedicated their lives to helping us achieve, by supporting us in everything we do and making sure we get everything we need.”

Smith sees Barbara’s hard work and determination every day.

“Barbara working at Sentara to put her son through college and watching him graduate is truly a wonderful achievement and should be an inspiration to many, that anything is possible in this country.”

Smith says Barbara represents the commitment that exists within his department and the hospital.

“Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, just like the community it serves, is home to a very diverse workforce. The diversity of our staff allows the hospital team to reach our patients in some ways that many hospitals may struggle. Barbara is a perfect example of how you can come to this country, work hard, and achieve things for yourself and your family that may not be possible in your country of origin.”

This Environmental Services Week (September 9 – 15), Smith is celebrating his team and heralding their accomplishments.

Multiple service techs have earned the national healthcare accreditation, “CHEST,” or Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician.  Several others will participate in another CHEST training later this year. The certification indicates the user is skilled in the most effective and innovative technologies in infection prevention. 

“Our Environmental Service technicians are the first line of defense and have played a vital role in Sentara Healthcare initiatives. I’m just so proud of my team!” says Smith.

To learn more about joining Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s award-winning team, visit

New ad campaign aims to change the stigma of senior living centers

The thought of checking mom or dad into a senior living home usually doesn’t evoke smiles. 
A new advertising campaign aims to change that.
Thrive Senior Living, the company that owns and operates Tribute at The Glen in Woodbridge and Tribute and Heritage Village in Gainesville, has launched a new tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign to call attention to the changing face of senior care.
Their campaign features cheeky statements like, “They built you a mother-in-law suite. Too bad it comes with a son-in-law,” and “There’s a very good chance she could leave it all to the dog. We’ll give you a leg up.”  
“At Thrive, we believe standards for senior living have been too low for too long,” said Les Strech, President of Thrive, in a press release. “The benchmark of ‘providing great care’ causes residents to feel like objects in need of care — rather than individuals with a purpose and a great deal to offer others.  Thrive creates an environment where older adults can build new and meaningful relationships, and ‘great care’ follows as a natural result. Our new campaign intentionally crosses a line and illustrates our non-traditional approach. While we can grow gardenias and bake a killer cupcake with the best of them, this campaign illustrates our commitment to our residents’ greater wellbeing and sense of purpose.”
“When I first got involved with the senior living industry, I was honestly mortified, and I started looking into what our competitors were like. There was no life in the building, there was no energy, there was no excitement, you could tell there wasn’t a lot of thought put into the design. With that very first community I vowed, I’m going to do this differently,” said Jeremy Ragsdale, president and founder, in an interview on the company’s YouTube channel.
Thrive Senior Living provides assisted living and memory care communities that are disrupting the industry of elder care. Rather than simply providing a care facility, they are creating communities where seniors can thrive instead of just surviving. Seniors enjoy amenities like cocktail hours and fine dining. They promote independence and assist their members 24 hours a day.  
Thrive currently operates communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
This post is brought to you by Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas whose caregivers work with senior residents at Tribute at The Glen in Woodbridge and Tribute and Heritage Village in Gainesville every day. 

5 Questions: An inside peek at the life of Sam Hill, Ed.D., Provost of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)

If you’ve ever wondered how local CEOs, top executives, and leaders really live, then you’ll enjoy this Q&A with Sam Hill, Ed.D. Hill is Provost of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Woodbridge Campus. The college, comprised of six campuses — two of which are in Prince William County — is the largest public educational institution in Virginia and the second-largest community college in the U.S.

Having more than 75,000 students and 2,600 faculty and staff members, NOVA is also one of the most internationally diverse colleges in the nation, with a student body representing more than 180 countries. Here’s an inside look at the life of one of NOVA’s key figures.

Q&A with Sam Hill, Ed.D., Provost of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by the commitment of the students we serve to improve their life situation to become greater contributing members of our community. Many of these students are pursuing a college education while dealing with challenging circumstances. You can’t help but be inspired and committed to making it possible for them to realize their goals. We will be a better community as a result. I’m also inspired by the commitment of the county leaders to economic development and the quality of life in our region. NOVA is a major partner in making this happen.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

It wasn’t healthy and not to be copied, and not my normal breakfast. I had a banana, a sausage and egg sandwich followed by four pieces of chocolate.

What’s your favorite place to hang out?

Bikram Hot Yoga studio with my wife.

If you owned an exotic animal, what would it be and why?

I’ve owned a python and a mongoose (at the same time). The mongoose was a house pet. The python was caged and outside. I also raised white mice for the python and the pythons at the zoo at the University of Liberia.

What’s the last thing you did that surprised you?

Getting a hole-in-one at Laurel Hill Golf Club. That was my second one, but this time I had witnesses.

Sponsored by Prince William County Department of Economic Development

• Located less than 20 miles from the nation’s capital, Prince William County encompasses a total area of 348 square miles.

• Prince William County’s favorable blend of large land parcels, multi-use zoned sites, incentives, reliable power and ample fiber optic availability coupled with the lowest programmable computer taxes in the region, make it an ideal location for businesses seeking a location in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

• 75% of Northern Virginia’s 1.5 million workers live within a 30-minute one-way commute to the center of Prince William County during rush hour. • Prince William County provides access to an outstanding talent pool of highly-skilled, culturally diverse labor; 42% of the workforce has 4-year degrees.

• Prince William County carries a AAA bond rating from all three of the major credit ratings agencies (Fitch, Moody’s and S&P).

Job: Human Resources Benefits Specialist

This position has been filled. 

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) is a progressive member owned utility with a service area that spreads from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

REC serves over 165,000 connections in portions of 22 Virginia counties. REC has a job opening for the position of Benefits Specialist.

Applicant must have an Associate’s degree in business administration or human resources or equivalent. Additional college level courses relating to job performance preferred. PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP, or CEBS certification a plus.

  • Must have eight (8) years of current benefits experience where responsibilities have progressively increased. Additional experience in one or more of the areas of human resources administration, i.e., personnel, recruitment, or payroll highly desired.
  • Must be able to compose clear, concise and grammatically correct written communications with attention to detail a must.
  • Must be able to communicate with individuals and small groups in a clear and effective manner.
  • Must have strong PC ability (preferably Microsoft Office and Windows).
  • Must have the ability to handle multiple priorities, be detail oriented and possess good data entry and communication skills.
  • Must be able to organize, plan, schedule and coordinate with minimal or no supervision.
  • Must be able to initiate and complete projects with little outside direction or help.
  • Must exhibit a professional appearance and manner in dealing with others and work to maintain constructive working relationships.
  • Ability to research information and analyze data to arrive at valid conclusions required.
  • Must have the ability to collect, compile and analyze information and data, and interpret and apply laws and policies.
  • Knowledge in business and labor laws, labor relations, insurance, payroll, training, planning and administration principles and practices strongly preferred.
  • Work will be primarily performed in the Fredericksburg office with occasional trips to the districts. Attendance of seminars and conferences several times a year is also required. Extra hours may be required during emergencies or workload demands.

Candidates interested in applying for this position should submit their cover letter with salary requirements and resume by 9/20/2018 to: Job Code# 51FB09062018 – REC – Human Resources, P.O. Box 7388, Fredericksburg, VA 22404 or e-mail to or fax to 540-891-5990.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Job: Human Resources Talent Engagement & Planning Specialist (Recruiter)

This position has been filled. 

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) is a progressive member-owned utility with a service area that spreads from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

REC serves over 165,000 connections in portions of 22 Virginia counties. REC is seeking an energetic, proactive, and outgoing self-starter to serve as the Human Resources Talent Engagement & Planning Specialist.

Associate’s degree required. Additional college level courses related to job also preferred. PHR, SPHR, SHRM-CP, or SHRM-SCP a plus. Must have five (5) years of current recruiting/talent acquisition experience where responsibilities have progressively increased.

Additional experience in other areas of human resources desired. Develops recruitment strategies to achieve required staffing levels. Works with managers to develop specific recruiting and succession plans.

  • Develops and maintains professional relationships with college, university, and community college placement offices as a source to generate qualified applicants. Directs the efforts of employment agencies and search firms, including negotiating and controlling employment-related fees.
  • Schedules and attends job/career fairs with appropriate staff to generate qualified applicants. Provides information on company operations and job opportunities to potential applicants. Screens and refers qualified applicants to hiring manager for interviewing.
  • May provide initial screening to obtain work history, education, training, job skills, and salary requirements.
  • Develops and conducts training programs for managers with a goal of improving recruiting and hiring efficiencies and reducing turnover.
  • Researches, analyzes, prepares and presents hiring and statistics. Maintains records on recruiting activities as required.
  • Participates in development of annual recruiting budget. Must be able to compose clear, concise, and grammatically correct written communications with attention to detail.
  • Must be able to communicate with individuals and small groups in a clear and effective manner.
  • Must be able to work with a wide variety of individuals both internal and external to the Cooperative.
  • Must demonstrate initiative to seek out and act upon solutions. Must have the ability to handle multiple priorities and be detail oriented.
  • Must be outgoing, proactive, and able to engage others through personality.
  • Must be enthusiastic, energetic, passionate, outgoing, approachable, and optimistic.
  • Must also be competitive, tenacious, and creative.
  • Must be able to organize, plan, schedule and coordinate with minimal or no supervision.
  • Must be able to initiate and complete projects with little outside direction or help.
  • Must exhibit a professional appearance and manner in dealing with others and work to maintain constructive working relationships. Must have a team-player attitude.
  • Must be able to research information and analyze data to arrive at valid conclusions required.
  • Knowledge in human resources related field, business and labor laws, labor relations, insurance, payroll, training, planning and administration principles and practices strongly preferred.
  • Work will be primarily performed in the Fredericksburg office with occasional trips to the district locations.
  • Attendance of seminars and conferences several times a year is also required. Extra hours may be required during emergencies or workload demands.

Candidates interested in applying for this position should submit their cover letter with salary requirements and resume by 9/20/2018 to: Job Code# 49FB09062018 – REC – Human Resources, P.O. Box 7388, Fredericksburg, VA 22404 or e-mail to or fax to 540-891-5990.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

City of Manassas tourism climbs

The Virginia Tourism Corporation has released the 2017 state and local economic impact data.  It is another record year for Virginia with expenditures reaching $25 billion supporting 230,000 jobs, $5.9 billion in salaries & wages and $1.7 billion in state & local taxes. 

All Virginia localities saw an increase in travel expenditures in 2017 compared to previous year.  The travel industry in the Commonwealth has continued to grow eight years in a row.  Travel expenditures increased at a compound annual growth rate of 3.9% since 2010.  

In Manassas tourism-related expenditures rose 4.5% to $71,114,795.  Annual payroll rose 4.7% to $12,124,407.  Employment rose 1.5% to 589 and local tax receipts rose 2.7% to $1,851,267.

Tourism is an important part of the local economy in many communities and especially in the City of Manassas.  Few localities in the nation experienced such seminal events as Manassas did during the Civil War.  The First and Second Battles of Manassas helped define our City’s place in history and historical-based tourism is a key market for the City.  The Manassas National Battlefield Park, Liberia Plantation and Manassas Museum serve as key attractions for visitors.

However, the City’s appeal to visitors now also includes the charm of its Historic Downtown (a Virginia Main Street community), its specialty shopping and dining, and special events.  Special events and activities alone account for 300,000 annual visitors to Downtown.  In addition to the jobs it creates and the revenue it generates, visitors may be prospective business owners or residents who become attracted to a community because of its tourism vibrancy.  Tourism is economic development. 

Back to school tips: ‘It is a different time…Trust your gut, you know your children better than anyone’

As students around Prince William County head back to class, we chat with Sentara Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Schutter RN, MSN, CFNP on some tips you & your family might want to consider for the new school year.

SB: How long have you been with Sentara?

SS: I’ve been with Sentara for 7 years.

SB: What does a typical day entail?

SS: My typical day consists of many different types of visits: sick visits, well-child visits, physicals and office visits for management of diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, asthma, allergies, thyroid disease, etc.

SB: What’s your favorite part of your job?

SS: My favorite part is taking care of families. I tried specialty medicine, but this is my true love, family practice. Knowing whole families of the infants, to teens, to parents and grandparents. There is nothing more rewarding, watching my kids grow and my adults move through different phases of their lives. I get to be there going through it with them, they are all like family to me.

SB: As parents get their children ready for back to school, what would you like them to know?

SS: As kids prepare for back to school stay positive for them, there is so much negativity and fear out there your kids need your positive support, the stressors they deal with are more than we had growing up. It is a different time, know your kids’ friends, know their families, always know where they are, be vigilant- trust your gut, you know your children better than anyone. Keep them involved, keep them busy, but allow time for fun too. Too many clubs, too many sports sometimes can be a challenge, find the balance so that they are getting just as much time to spend with their friends and have fun. Monitor their phones, their computer usage, and the apps they are using, stay informed!

SB: What are some of the biggest things you see that get forgotten as kids head back to class?

SS: Make sure prior to school that immunizations are up to date, make sure if your child plays sports they have an up to date sports physical and concussion training as the schools now require this prior to tryouts. Try to get back to sleep routine, the first weeks back are hard enough, sleep is so important for our kids. Reestablish routines to get them into their good organization and study habits, have a place in the house that is theirs to get work done. Parents have childcare back up plans in case of emergency or illness, working parents always need a backup. After school routines- keep them reading always, keep attitudes positive- if you stay positive, their year will be the best one, and they will go in with a positive attitude!

SB: In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about ADHD, bullying and other issues in the classroom. What advice do you give parents who are concerned about something that is affecting their child?

SS: For my parents concerned about things affecting your children, it’s best to discuss it with them, help them to come up with solutions on their own and with you to deal with stressful situations at school, especially if there is no imminent danger. Learning how to deal with bullies or conflicts will be something they need to learn in the future. If this isn’t possible, and you are worried for safety or concerned about the severity of an issue, as parents you have to step in, communicate with the teacher see if there is anything they can do in the classroom to assist the situation and if this still isn’t working, go higher and make sure your kids are safe, that’s most important. As for concerns with ADHD and learning disabilities- bring it up with your provider. If testing is needed, they’ll get you to the right places or to the correct specialists.

SB: What do you want to stress to parents going into this new school year?

SS: The most important message to my parents is: TALK to your children, and take time to LISTEN. We only get them for physicals once a year if they are healthy and we try to cover everything and educate, but they need to hear it from you, too. Talk to them about drugs, depression, anxiety, smoking, alcohol, a plan for safety if they are in a situation they are not comfortable in, etc. They need to hear the truth from their providers, their parents, and their teachers. If we aren’t talking about it with them, someone else is, and you want to make sure the information they’re receiving is accurate. My kids love to pretend they are ignoring me, but I know even if they only hear one thing each time they will get a little of all of it in the end!

If you’re looking for a primary care provider, call 1-800-Sentara or visit

Protect the senior in your life. Learn about Lyme disease treatment and prevention.

In a previous article, we discussed the importance of recognizing symptoms of Lyme disease in seniors. We said Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose, especially in seniors, as it can mirror dementia, as well as chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and more. Because it is common for seniors to report joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue and dizziness, doctors often feel that the symptoms may not be that out of the ordinary and miss a diagnosis. Knowing all this and advocating for testing is the first step. Next comes treatment.

[Photo: Deer tick, Scott Bauer, USDA, ARS, Virginia Cooperative Extension website]

Treat Lyme disease

If you see a tick on the skin of a senior in your care, document it. Be sure to note the date of the bite. Set up an auto-reminder to check the bite site each day for any irritation or other symptoms. (Lesions typically develop 7-10 days after a tick bite.) Having this information to share with your doctor can greatly help with diagnosis, even if you are able to bring the senior you care for to the doctor right away.

If you find a tick, follow these Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for removal:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.

According to the CDC, “People treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely. Antibiotics commonly used for oral treatment include doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil. People with certain neurological or cardiac forms of illness may require intravenous treatment with antibiotics such as ceftriaxone or penicillin.”

The CDC also says, “These regimens are guidelines only and may need to be adjusted depending on a person’s age, medical history, underlying health conditions, pregnancy status, or allergies.”

It’s important to note that the immune system deteriorates as we get older. Therefore, seniors usually respond slower to treatment, which increases risk of the disease becoming worse, especially if diagnosis and timely treatment were delayed. Lyme disease not cured by antibiotics becomes increasingly difficult for doctors to counter and can become fatal. Prevention is the best defense against Lyme disease.

Prevent Lyme disease

Lyme disease cases are concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 states accounting for over 96% of cases reported to CDC.

The CDC reports that more than 329,000 people are likely to contract Lyme disease every year in the U.S. alone. This estimated number of annual infections is 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the US. Lyme disease accounts for more than 90% of all reported cases of diseases carried by animals (vector-borne illness). But only one in ten cases of Lyme are reported, since many clinicians are not looking for Lyme disease specifically.

As ticks continue to migrate to more and more areas, we can expect cases to continue to rise. This makes prevention all the more difficult and important, especially for seniors who are more vulnerable to symptoms.

Here are some ideas to keep ticks away:

  • Avoid wooded areas with high grass or brush.
  • Keep grass cut in and around the yard.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants, and tuck pant legs into socks when in tick territory.
  • Use bug repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Ask a medical professional for an option that is safe for the senior in your care.
  • Carefully inspect yourself and the senior in your care for ticks after being out in a natural setting.
  • Treat pets that can bring ticks inside. Ask a vet for safe options.

The CDC and the Lyme Disease Association offer a wealth of information about symptoms and prevention, as well as patient support resources. Learn as much as possible, and if you suspect the senior in your care has been exposed to environments that harbor ticks, consult a medical professional right away.

This post is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care serving Prince William and Fauquier counties.

Bloated? Not digesting food? Gastroparesis could be the issue.

Ever had a full, bloated feeling?

Those symptoms may not sound unusual, but they’re just some of the key indicators for people suffering from Gastroparesis.

While only about 200,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders says nearly five million Americans may be living with this illness undiagnosed, that’s why August is Gastroparesis Awareness Month.

Gastroparesis is a condition that affects the normal movement of muscles in the stomach which contract and propel food through your digestive tract. In people with gastroparesis, motility is slowed down or doesn’t work at allpreventing the stomach from emptying properly.

“If you have these symptoms and we rule out infection, we may proceed with an endoscopy. What we see, if you haven’t eaten for eight hours, your stomach should be completely empty, but if you do have residual food left in the stomach that’s highly suggestive of gastroparesis,” explains Dr. MH Razavi, a Gastroenterologist with Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

Another way of diagnosing gastroparesis, if you do an endoscopy and everything looks normal, is to perform a gastric emptying scan, “This procedure uses nuclear medicine to show how long it takes for food to pass through the stomach,” explains Dr. Razavi.

Dr. Razavi says the main treatment is diet modification, avoiding fibrous fruits and vegetables, eating smaller meals and avoiding carbonated drinks, alcohol, and smoking. Medication-wise, he says there aren’t any long-term, FDA approved prescriptions.   

If you’re dealing with similar symptoms or need the expertise of a Gastroenterologist, call 1-800-Sentara or visit

Home Instead Senior Care walking again to end Alzheimer’s

Everyone has a reason to end Alzheimer’s.

Each year more than 400,000 people in over 600 communities nationwide come together for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® — the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. While we all have our own reason to step up to the start line, our eyes are set on the ultimate finish — the end of Alzheimer’s.

At Home Instead Senior Care®, our tagline is To Us, It’s Personal®; The only way we can fulfill our mission to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families is by being personally committed to increasing awareness of the issues seniors face.

Our Goal is to raise $2500 this year!

2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Virginia Tri-Counties
Saturday, October 20, 2018
8:30 am
Harris Pavilion in Old Town Manassas

Click the link below to join our team, make a donation or learn more about volunteering.

Join the Home Instead Team!

How to buy a home when you have student loan debt: Tips from The Fauquier Bank

If you went to college, there’s a good chance you’re among the more than 70 percent of graduates with student loans to repay.

While those loans allowed you to achieve educational goals, they could affect your ability to achieve another part of the American dream — buying a home.

But with careful planning and proper guidance, you can qualify for a mortgage.

To assess each specific situation, Victoria King of The Fauquier Bank recommends the first stop be with a mortgage loan officer. Understanding your financial profile — and how to improve it, if necessary — is the best place to start.

“When you want to buy a home, the first thing to do is talk to a loan officer, even before you talk to a real estate agent, so they can guide you in the home buying process,” she says.

Don’t worry; you’re not alone in this. About 45 million Americans have student debt. The average borrower owes almost $40,000, according to Student Loan Hero. Many owe even more, according to the National Association of Realtors. And it’s a particular problem for first-time homebuyers.

King recommends these steps:

Build Credit: Take small steps that can have a big pay-off. For instance, if you can’t get a major credit card, take out a smaller card, make purchases and pay them off in full. By practicing good habits, you’ll build your credit.

Improve Your Score: Once you’ve got a credit history, talk with a lender, who will begin by checking your credit score. The higher the score, the better the interest rate you can qualify for.

If you need to improve your credit score, there are several options, such as making payments on time, and keeping the balance below 50 percent of the credit limit. If your score still isn’t where it needs to be, King can help improve it through a “rapid rescore” process.

“I can absolutely help somebody with their credit score if they need it,” she explains. The process can take time, for both the lender and the customer, but it can be worth it. “It’s something I take the time to do in order to help my clients,” she says.

Reduce Monthly Payments: Keep your student loan payment — as well as all expenses — low in order to reduce the amount you have to pay each month.

“For qualifying purposes with a mortgage,” she says, “you want to get that payment down as low as possible.”

NMLS #314753

 Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in life. We provide local expertise and personal service through our tradition of community banking with a hometown touch. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about mortgage options from TFB.

SentarAlert gives patients, visitors instant texts during critical safety events

Patients and visitors to Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, as well as all Sentara Healthcare hospitals and outpatient facilities, are now able to receive timely text messages during critical safety events. A new opt-in emergency notification service dubbed SentarAlert allows anyone in Sentara facilities to receive the same texts Sentara employees receive through our emergency notification system (ENS).

SentarAlert allows patients and visitors to text a keyword unique to each Sentara facility or region to 333111 and immediately begin receiving critical safety messages. SentarAlert will begin the service with two critical safety notifications: Active Shooter and Evacuation. At 120 characters, notifications are brief and cryptic, like tweets, and designed to be augmented by overhead pages in hospitals and sites with public address systems.

Sentara takes safety very seriously. We want to ensure our patients and guests are informed of emergency situations as they arise,” explains Tim Bowers, MS, CHSO, Director of Security for Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center. “Sentara is offering a new emergency notification system to anyone who signs up. This system is very similar to those used on college campuses and by governments across the nation to alert authorized people of emergency situations. To receive the Sentara Northern Virginia emergency notifications on your phone, please text the keyword SENTARANV to 333111.”

Opt-in subscriptions last for seven-day cycles when subscribers are notified by text that they are unsubscribed. But they can subscribe again right away for the next cycle. SentarAlert is designed as a safety enhancement for patients and visitors while they are in Sentara hospitals, nursing centers, therapy centers and other ambulatory sites of care. The texts are designed to help employees, patients and visitors make informed decisions during critical safety events.

Does the senior in your life have Lyme disease?

Maybe the name Kris Kristofferson rings a bell, or maybe it doesn’t. Either way, here’s a little story about the songwriter and actor who is now 80.

For several years, it was thought he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or some other kind of dementia. His memory had been deteriorating. Then in June 2016, he revealed he was misdiagnosed. What he actually had was Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is contracted from the bite of an infected deer tick, a year-round threat. If left untreated, the disease can progress and cause a number of debilitating symptoms. Seniors can be highly vulnerable because they may have weakened immune systems or pre-existing conditions that can be exacerbated by Lyme.

Here’s why it was such an easy mistake for Kristofferson’s doctors to make. In seniors especially, Lyme disease can result in short-term memory loss. And according to the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center of Columbia University Medical Center, problems like these can occur months or years after a person contracts Lyme disease:

  • Problems remembering names or words
  • Slowed thinking
  • “Brain fog”
  • Difficulty following conversations

Other symptoms can include:

  • “Bulls-eye” rash at the bite site
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Meningitis
  • Nervous system damage
  • Arthritis
  • Heart damage

Let’s take a look at the symptoms more closely.

“Bulls-eye” rash at the bite site

This might be one of the first symptoms you notice. The telltale rash is red and may have a bullseye rash around it. This is where bacteria makes its first entry.

Fever and chills, headache, fatigue, joint pain

If these symptoms sound familiar, it’s probably that they resemble the flu. Lack of energy, a mild fever, headaches, achy joints and muscles and swollen lymph nodes…all these can come along with Lyme disease. In seniors who already have daily aches and pains, it can be difficult to distinguish these symptoms from the norm.

Increased heart rate

Many people with Lyme disease develop a rapid heart rate that does not stabilize even when the sufferer is at rest. Since many seniors regularly take blood pressure and other heart medication, it is easy to see why this symptom could be confused with medication failure or side effects. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 46 percent of seniors between 70 and 79 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, which can make it difficult to distinguish between disease symptoms and medication reactions.


Lyme meningitis can set in once the bacteria have spread throughout the body, causing fever, migraines, neck stiffness, eye issues, seizures, and confusion. In seniors, these can be confused with viral symptoms or even regular meningitis, both of which require treatments different from the kind Lyme disease requires.

Nervous system damage

Seizures, spasms, larger uncontrolled body movements and tremors – these can all be part of Lyme disease and easily mistaken for conditions like early Parkinson’s disease, diabetic seizures, or other specific nerve damage.


Symptoms of arthritis include stiffening of the joints, inflammation, and pain, which many seniors experience on a daily basis. But if they do not have arthritis already, untreated Lyme disease can put the disease in motion. If they do have arthritis, Lyme disease can make it worse.  

Heart damage

When Lyme disease goes untreated for a period of time, the bacteria can weaken the heart, cause swelling, arrhythmia and even heart failure. In seniors with pre-existing heart-related conditions, this can prove deadly.

The key to recovery is knowing what symptoms to look for and treating Lyme disease right away before it takes a toll on the senior in your life. If you suspect the senior in your life has been bitten by a tick or has any of the above symptoms, seek medical treatment from a professional immediately. In a future article, we will discuss prevention and treatment of Lyme disease. Stay tuned.

This post is written by Potomac Local for Home Instead Senior Care of Manassas serving Prince William and Fauquier counties.