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There’s nothing like a two-year-long pandemic to drive home the importance of access to quality health care services.

Reston Hospital Center was planning a new emergency department in Tysons before COVID-19 showed up, but the pandemic heightened the sense of urgency around the project, particularly as hospitals continue to see increased demand, Tysons Emergency Medical Director Saad Amin says.

“With Covid having come around, it’s been a real important endeavor that HCA [Virginia] and Reston Hospital have been trying to get done,” Amin said, referring to the company that owns the hospital. “We’re very excited to have this open to the community.”

Tysons Emergency hasn’t opened just yet, but it’s expected to by the end of May. HCA hosted an open house and power lunches this past Thursday and Friday (May 19-20) to introduce community members to the nearly 14,000-square-foot facility.

Located at 8240 Leesburg Pike, just east of the Route 123 and Route 7 interchange, the standalone emergency room features 10 private exam rooms, including one where the furniture is bolted down for cases that raise behavioral health concerns.

Other amenities include on-site lab testing, imaging technology, a resuscitation room, a triage room near the waiting area, and a decontamination room with doors that can control the air flow and separate occupants from the rest of the ER.

Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the facility is expected to accommodate about 22 patients on a typical day, according to the staff. The main ER has a TV with real-time data tracking the number of patients and wait times for both Tysons and Reston Hospital.

Serving both adults and children, Tysons Emergency will start with one physician and a support nursing staff on site at all times, but the staffing will increase as more patients come in, Saad says.

Like a standard emergency room, it will be equipped to address life-threatening, critical situations, such as heart attacks and drug overdoses, as well as more routine issues, like a stubbed toe or animal bites.

“We can handle anything that comes in through that door, and we’ll get them to the correct level of care afterwards,” Saad said.

Patients who need to be admitted for a more long-term condition will be transferred by ambulance to Reston Hospital (1850 Town Center Parkway), at no cost. There is also complimentary valet parking with 60 spaces available, saving visitors from the stress of finding a spot themselves, according to Tysons ER Director Kimberly Riley-O’Bannon.

As Tysons’ population has grown, so has the need for medical and emergency services to support those residents.

In February, the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine opened a primary care office just to the north in McLean, and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department added a new Scotts Run fire station last fall to serve Tysons East. Plans to relocate and add capacity to Fire Station 29 are now in the works.

Riley-O’Bannon says Tysons Emergency staff have met with all of the fire stations in a 20-mile radius to familiarize them with the new facility, which is expected to shorten travel times for first responders.

“The hope is they’ll come here and be able to drop off their patients and get back out into the community,” Riley-O’Bannon said. “That’s a big selling point for them, so they’re very anxious for us to open.”

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Inova’s new cancer screening and prevention center in Merrifield is the first facility of its kind in the D.C. area, the nonprofit health care system says.

Inova marked the official opening of the Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday (May 4).

First announced in late 2020, the center occupies 24,000 square feet of space in the Inova Schar Cancer Institute at 8081 Innovation Park Drive, according to a news release. Inova says the facility is rare for enabling patients to get prevention, screening, and treatment services in the same place.

“While most people know that early detection saves lives, not everyone knows where to start or has access to quality care,” Dr. Rebecca Kaltman, executive director of the Inova Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center, said. “This new state of the art facility provides greater access to routine cancer screening as well as a comprehensive approach to minimizing cancer risk through techniques including biometric assessments, genetic testing and novel, minimally invasive tools to improve early detection.”

The center was built with a $20 million donation from Paul and Linda Saville. Paul Saville is the president and CEO of the Reston-based construction company NVR Inc.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., as of 2020, below cardiovascular diseases and right above COVID-19.

With health concerns and capacity limitations keeping many people away from hospitals and doctors’ offices, the pandemic led to nearly 22 million cancer screenings getting canceled or skipped between June 2020 and March 2021, the American Cancer Society reported in September.

More recently, health care workers across the country say the severity of cancer cases coming in has increased, particularly among people of color.

“We hope that by providing our neighbors with accessible, multidisciplinary screening and prevention services and a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach, we will help our community get back on track with their health and cure more cancers through early detection and intervention,” Inova Schar Cancer Institute President Dr. John Deeken said.

Appointments at the Saville center can be scheduled online or by calling 571-472-4724. A referral isn’t necessary to receive services, according to the press release.

The center will host a free cancer screening and prevention fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 11. Expected to become an annual occurrence, the event will feature free cancer screenings and information sessions with medical staff as well as food trucks, entertainment, kids’ activities, healthy cooking demonstrations, and more.

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Supreme Court (via SCOTUS)

News that the Supreme Court plans to overturn its landmark 1973 abortion-rights Roe v. Wade decision prompted a rush of support to at least one Fairfax County area abortion clinic and expressions of concern from many legislators representing the area.

The Supreme Court confirmed that a leaked draft opinion published on Monday (May 2) by Politico is authentic, adding that the document does not represent the “final position on any member on issues in the case.”

While the decision isn’t final, it’s already drawing cheers from abortion opponents and horror from reproductive justice advocates, who say a Roe v. Wade reversal will be particularly harmful for low-income people, people of color and other marginalized groups.

“If true, this opinion would be an all-out assault on a woman’s right to make choices about her own reproductive health,” U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th) said on Facebook. “I’m doing everything in my power to fight for the right to have an abortion.”

The Falls Church Healthcare Center has seen an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer, development director Mike Scheinberg said.

The private medical clinic provides abortions, gynecology and obstetrics services, counseling, and more. Less than 10% of the clinic’s patients come from out of state, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the health center likely would serve more such patients in the future, he said.

“Unfortunately and tragically, a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is going to adversely [impact] mostly individuals who are pregnant people of color and those…who are not in great financial state,” Scheinberg said. “It discriminates against the poor.”

He said the possibility of curtailing abortion rights comes as little surprise, as many states, including Virginia, have put obstacles in place to limit access. The Commonwealth started requiring ultrasounds and 24-hour waiting periods in 2012, but the General Assembly repealed those measures in 2020.

Still, he said advocates are monitoring recent bills in the Commonwealth’s General Assembly.

“It’s unknown what will happen considering that our governor is a staunch opponent of abortion access,” Scheinberg said. Read More

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A rendering of a veterinary hospital that has been proposed in Chantilly (via Fairfax County)

A veterinary hospital could take up a one-acre vacant site at 4700 Centreville Road, right next to the Westone Plaza shopping center in Chantilly.

A one-story building with 3,200-square-feet is planned on the largely wooded area, along with 41 spaces for surface parking. Access to the site would be provided through the existing shopping center.

A public hearing on the application before the Fairfax County Planning Commission was deferred from this past Wednesday (April 20) to April 27.

County staff encouraged the applicant to ensure that a missing trail link between Poplar Tree Road and Stonecroft Road is added. Staff asked the applicant to build the missing connection to complete the trail system in this area.

Although a hospital is proposed, the applicant noted in submission materials that the building could be used for other purposes “to respond to market demand as needed.” Other options include retail, offices, rental services, an instruction center, or a private school.

In an April 7 report, staff noted that other possible uses “complement the existing uses in the shopping center.”

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Morning Notes

Traffic and construction on I-66 outside the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Two Hospitalized in West Springfield Crash — “Yesterday at 4:09 PM, units responded to three-car crash on Old Keene Mill Rd at Hillside Rd. #FCFRD used “jaws of life” to free 2 persons from one car. Both transported to hospital w/serious, non-life threatening, injuries. 1 person from another car transported w/minor injuries.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Virginia Hits 14-Year High in Crash Fatalities — “In 2021, 968 people died in crashes on Virginia roads. That’s up 14.3% from 2020, when there were 847 crash fatalities. And it’s the highest number of annual deaths since 2007, which saw 1,026 fatalities.” [WTOP]

Merrifield Cancer Screening Center to Open Next Month — “The Inova Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center will be the first of its kind in Northern Virginia. It’s designed to be a one-stop shop to not only detect the disease but prevent it. Anyone can make an appointment, and referrals are not needed.” [NBC4]

Reston Association Unveils Pool Schedule — “Summer is coming soon & so are the pools! We’re excited to announce the schedules for Seasons 1, 2, and 3, of our pool facilities! You can also find scheduled RSTA swim meets, and our Memorial Day hours at reston.org/aquatics!” [RA/Twitter]

Vienna Artist Reacts to War in Homeland — “The war in Ukraine hits hard for Vienna Arts Society member Viktoriya Maslova, who was born and grew up in that Eastern European nation…Speaking at the Vienna Art Center on April 13, Maslova described how Russian forces had invaded her homeland from three sides in what she said was an effort to displace Ukraine’s government.” [Sun Gazette]

Fire Department Encourages Fitness with Chantilly Center — “The Wellfit center offers strength training and physical therapy for Fairfax County’s finest and is part of an all-encompassing strategy FCFRD has undertaken that is unique in the country. Alongside these services, the department provides dietary guidance and behavioral counseling…to ensure firefighters are in the best shape possible to perform their arduous tasks.” [Fairfax Times]

Big Trucks to Motor into Herndon — “Families with children who love big trucks take notice. The Town of Herndon’s Department of Public Works will be putting the town’s large vehicles and heavy equipment on display during ‘Big Truck Days’ in May.” [Patch]

It’s Wednesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 60 and low of 37. Sunrise at 6:26 am and sunset at 7:52 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County Public Schools

Recent drug overdoses by teenagers in the Richmond Highway corridor and emergency care statistics have led Fairfax County officials to intensify their efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

Hospitals and urgent care centers in the county have seen nonfatal overdoses rise in the last three years, from 232 to 324 and 354 as of last year. Most of the opiate cases involve fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s 80-100 times more powerful than morphine, while heroin cases are declining, the county health department told FFXnow.

County Executive Bryan Hill and Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand reported in a March 15 letter that the county has seen “a concerning number” of nonfatal overdoses involving teens aged 15 to 17 in the Richmond Highway corridor.

They said the incidents have primarily involved illicit pills, likely fentanyl, but the substances weren’t verified by lab tests at the time of their writing.

“Individuals of all ages are impacted by the opioid epidemic in the Fairfax Health District, with the 18-34 age range having the highest rates of fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the Fairfax Health District in recent years,” the letter said.

In Fairfax County, opioid overdoses are the top non-natural cause of death. They were involved in the deaths of 83 people in 2019, 94 people in 2020, and 85 individuals for a nine-month period in 2021.

Last spring, the U.S. saw more than 100,000 people die from drug overdoses during a 12-month period — the highest rate ever recorded, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioids were involved in most of those deaths.

Ellen Volo, Fairfax County’s opioid task force coordinator, says there are over 30 activities underway or in development across five priority areas:

  1. Education, prevention, and collaboration
  2. Early intervention and treatment
  3. Enforcement and criminal justice
  4. Data and monitoring
  5. Harm reduction

Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said the department is collaborating with the Fairfax County Opioid and Substance Use Task Force.

Resources for prevention, treatment, and enforcement can also be found through the school system, the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, the police department, and community organizations like the nonprofit Chris Atwood Foundation.

“It is not just one effort — it is the coordinated efforts — that will make a difference,” she said by email.

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Inova HealthPlex in Lorton (via Google Maps)

Nonprofit health care system Inova has agreed to settle a lawsuit involving a nurse who failed to monitor a Lorton patient as stroke protocol required, according to a plaintiff’s attorney.

The case involved a 72-year-old woman who suffered a stroke in 2019 and brain bleed in 2020. She was cared for at the Inova Healthplex in Lorton but fell onto the floor when she walked to the bathroom without a nurse, according to Fairfax County Circuit Court documents.

After her fall, she was immediately rushed to Inova’s Fairfax Hospital trauma intensive care unit that day, but she died after being in a coma for a week, according to the complaint.

The complaint said stroke protocol requires that a patient not be allowed out of bed unassisted. Filed in November 2020 by the patient’s sister, acting as the administrator of her estate, the suit sought $3 million in damages.

A month later, a Fairfax lawyer for Inova, Brian Sanderson, repeatedly suggested that sections of the legal complaint were incomplete and misleading. A later statement appeared to conflict with those arguments.

“Inova, acting through its employee nurse, was negligent with respect to its care and treatment of (individual) while she was a patient at Inova Healthplex Lorton on February 2, 2020,” Sanderson said in a statement filed Feb. 16, 2022.

The complaint also alleged the health system failed to treat the brain bleed in a timely manner, but the health care system rejected that statement.

Inova didn’t respond by publication time to a message seeking comment about its stroke protocols in light of the death.

The plaintiff’s attorney declined to provide the terms of the settlement. The case is slated to return to court on March 18 for a hearing, where the court would approve the settlement.

Photo via Google Maps

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