(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Adventurers will band together in Springfield this Saturday (Nov. 4) in support of a noble cause: raising money to help sick children.
Wizards and rogues, bards and druids alike have been invited to Curio Cavern (6701 Loisdale Rd, Suite 15) for a multi-table Dungeons and Dragons session — known in the role-playing game as an “epic” — that will raise funds for Children’s National Hospital in D.C.
Set to start at 1 p.m., with doors opening at noon, the event is one of many fundraisers planned around the country tomorrow as part of an annual Game Day organized by Extra Life, a nonprofit that uses gaming to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which includes Children’s National.
Derrick Chelikowsky, one of the Curio event’s organizers with Alex Manavi, says Extra Life’s Game Day offers an opportunity for individuals to “pool our resources” together to help tackle an issue — in this case, children’s health care — that directly affects their local community.
“The ability to directly give back to a community that has accepted me is something that I really like to do,” Chelikowsky said. “I try to give back to the communities that I’ve been in, every place that I’ve lived, and this is one day that I found that allows me to give back, and as an aside, have some fun playing D&D.”
A Franconia resident and regular at Curio Cavern’s weekly Monday D&D sessions, Chelikowsky started participating in Extra Life in 2016 to support Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York, where he lived at the time. He began visiting Curio after moving to Fairfax County for a job and soon found himself serving as dungeon master (DM) for the store’s first charitable Dungeons and Dragons epic on July 22.
That fundraiser benefitted the Against Malaria Foundation and was put together by Grant Babcock, who co-organizes Curio’s Adventurers League (an ongoing campaign officially sanctioned by D&D owner Wizards of the Coast).
Curio, which also has locations at Springfield Town Center and Centreville Square, has hosted charitable events in the past, but its original Loisdale Road location didn’t have the space to accommodate the number of players and tables needed for an epic until a recent expansion, according to Manavai.
The first epic drew about 20 people who raised $570 for the Against Malaria Foundation, all while battling “a vengeful three-headed giant” — played with a costume and props by Manavi — and his army of monsters at an ice-fishing competition.
“A modest start, but we learned a lot about the process of holding events like this,” Babcock said by email. “We decided to try making it a quarterly thing, and Derrick stepped up to organize the next event.”
The upcoming epic, “Peril at the Port,” will task players with rallying townsfolk to defend their home against devil and ghost pirates. All proceeds from the $15 entry fee — which also grants access to a pre-made character if needed and a magic item trading post — and the $1 that players can donate to roll the dice again after a critical fail go to Children’s National Hospital. Read More
Inova this week unveiled a rebranding initiative with a new logo, look and tone that will “redefine the health system’s identity.”
“The launch of the new brand aims to capture the health system’s dedication to innovative, compassionate, patient-centered and world-class healthcare while fostering a culture of inclusivity and collaboration,” Inova said in a news release.
The nonprofit healthcare provider, which began in the 1950s as a community hospital serving Fairfax County, launched the new brand at its flagship Inova Fairfax Medical Campus (3300 Gallows Road) near Merrifield on Monday (Oct. 2).
“The brand refresh is a signal to the community of what they can expect from Inova,” said Tracey Schroeder, Inova’s chief communications and external affairs officer. “The quality of care, exceptional health outcomes and caring patient experience are what our patients value and depend on. With this rebrand, we’re modernizing how Inova looks to better represent the care that defines us.”
The release notes that, in August, Inova was named the top hospital in Virginia and the D.C. metropolitan area by U.S. News & World Report.
“All five Inova hospitals have received A Grades from the Leapfrog Group, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have recognized Inova with five stars for safety and quality – the only health system in the region to achieve this rating,” the release said.
Inova’s new logo “tells a clear story about how the health system, pronounced ‘in-OH-va,’ is always by your side,” according to the release.
Inova says the logo, which depicts two figures coming together, represents the fact that every step of the healthcare journey is taken together: whether it’s a provider comforting a patient, a doctor collaborating with a nurse or family member supporting a loved one.
“The logo evokes a warm, compassionate and welcoming environment where patients feel supported and valued,” the release said.
Inova preserved its recognizable blue in the new brand to build on strong brand equity, but updated the full color palette to include new colors that signal its new direction as a modern health system that continues to innovate and evolve.
“Our new brand is a mark of Inova’s progress in creating a unified clinical network, dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care to patients and families in Northern Virginia and beyond, and undeniably positions Inova to be among the leading health systems in the nation,” Inova President and CEO J. Stephen Jones said.
The new branding will be implemented at Inova locations on a rolling basis, with an advertising campaign planned in phases over the coming months. Inova will show up creatively in broadcast, streaming audio, digital and other multimedia channels.
The campaign will highlight specialty services and expert clinicians, emphasizing “their connection and dedication” to patients.
The rebrand announcement comes as Inova expands its health care facilities and services in the area, as laid out in its Eastern Region Development Plan. The organization recently added a behavioral health unit at its Mount Vernon hospital, and it got Fairfax County’s approval for a new Springfield hospital last year.
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital will open a new behavioral health unit next week, marking an expansion of mental health care along the Richmond Highway corridor.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held yesterday morning (Tuesday) for the nearly $10 million facility, which will increase bed capacity at the hospital by 67%.
Close to $4 million was donated by Amyia and Jeff Veatch, a local entrepreneur who founded the engineering firm Apex Systems. The family previously donated money to help modernize the hospital’s emergency room.
Hospital leaders and a number of elected officials attended the ceremony, including Rep. Don Beyer, State Sen. Scott Surovell, Del. Paul Krizek, Mount Vernon District School Board Rep. Karen Corbett Sanders, and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck (who had to leave to vote on the county budget).
The Inova Veatch Family Behavioral Health Unit will open to hospital patients on May 16. It will feature 20 additional beds, private rooms, “quiet” spaces, modernized equipment, and enhanced safety features, like impact resistance windows and drywall.
Along with the hospital’s existing adult psychiatric unit, the total capacity for behavioral health patients will now be 50 beds.
As many noted during the ceremony, mental health care and behavioral services have become a priority in Fairfax County, as rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, specifically among young people, have risen drastically in recent years.
“We have a significant shortage of mental health services all over Virginia and especially acute here in Northern Virginia,” Surovell, who represents Hybla Valley, Woodlawn, and parts of Franconia, told FFXnow. “That’s the big reason we need to expand these services. If you don’t have a place for people to go when they need help, it can result in really tragic consequences.”
He called private contributions like the one made by the Veatch family “critical” to expanding care, particularly since behavioral services “are often not the most profitable areas for a hospital to invest in.”
But he said it’s also on the state to make the necessary investments as the need for mental health care continues to skyrocket.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed $230 million in this year’s budget for addressing gaps in behavioral health services. Surovell said that doesn’t go far enough.
“This is about half of what we need because the state is so far behind in investing in behavioral health,” he said.
Mount District Supervisor Dan Storck agreed, stating at the ribbon-cutting that “we’ve never done enough” to provide mental health care both locally and across the country. Adolescent care in particular is lacking, he told FFXnow.
“We need more adolescent psychiatry units. Our adolescents are bearing the brunt of Covid,” Storck said. “They need more support than we can provide. Inova is stepping up in their Fairfax hospital, but that’s still inadequate to our adolescent needs.”
Beyer shared that his son suffers from schizophrenia and has been hospitalized “many times” at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. The additional unit will hopefully provide care to more people in need like his son, he said.
While more resources are needed, the Veatch behavioral health unit and emergency room are potentially life savers for residents of the Richmond Highway corridor, Surovell said.
“They don’t have to travel to either Alexandria [City] or Franconia or Fairfax to get these services,” he said. “Having a facility that’s close can be the difference between life or death for a lot of people.”
Construction on a new hospital next to Inova’s existing Franconia-Springfield HealthPlex is expected to begin late next year after the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the rezoning plan at a meeting yesterday (Tuesday).
The board voted unanimously to bring 985,000 square feet of medical space to the 21-acre campus on the intersection of Beulah Street and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. Two representatives recused themselves from the vote due to their tie’s with Inova.
Tim Sampson, Inova’s land use attorney and representative, said that the project represents an “opportunity to fill a space in the geographic area without those facilities today.”
The first phase of the project will include a hospital with a maximum of 144 beds spread across two patient towers and an outpatient center. The current HealthPlex will be incorporated through a new road network and walkway connections.
Eventually, the emergency room will be expanded and relocated into the hospital. The former ER space will be filled with other medical uses.
Phase two may include a third patient tower with up to 72 beds and a second outpatient center. The plan also includes nearly 1,500 parking spaces and a helipad, although Inova officials only expect a few landings.
Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said he was particularly impressed by the project’s aesthetics and Class A office space.
“The finishes and the design features of the campus are slated to be extraordinarily attractive,” Lusk said, adding that the project will likely bring 1,200 net new jobs to the district.
Inova’s expansion includes planned road improvements along Franconia-Springfield Parkway, Jasper Lane, Walker Lane, Beulah Street and a new internal roadways.
The county’s planning commission unanimously voted to approve the project earlier this year.
“I think it is something that Inova and the county will be proud of for generations to come,” Sampson said.
Updated at 9:45 a.m. on 8/16/2022 — Hektor Fernando Alvarez’s employment at Virginia Hospital Center was terminated on Friday (Aug. 12), the hospital says.
Earlier: A man from Falls Church has been arrested after allegedly sexually assaulting a patient under his care when he worked at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital (3600 Joseph Siewick Drive), the Fairfax County Police Department announced today (Friday).
The victim — a patient who was receiving long-term care at the hospital — told a hospital technician on July 7 that his previous caretaker had “fondled the victim’s genitalia on two separate occasions,” police said.
Detectives from FCPD’s Major Crimes Bureau began an investigation on July 8. They identified the caretaker as 21-year-old Falls Church resident Hektor Fernando Alvarez, who was working for a company called Metropolitan Healthcare Services (MHS) that Inova had contracted “to provide sitter services for patients,” according to police.
The FCPD says Alvarez is no longer employed by MHS, but he was working as a medical technician at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. There have been no incidents reported at that hospital, according to the department.
Alvarez was arrested after a month-long investigation on Aug. 9 and has been charged with aggravated sexual battery with a victim through mental incapacity or helplessness.
“He was held on no bond but later released on a secured bond,” the police department said, which means the money was primarily covered by a bond company.
Prosecutors had argued for Alvarez to be denied a bond, but the judge rejected their recommendation, FFXnow was told.
Online case information indicates that Alvarez was arraigned at the Fairfax County General District Court on Wednesday (Aug. 10) and had a bond hearing yesterday (Thursday). A court employee told FFXnow that the bond was served this morning.
Inova Health System says it has been working with the victim’s family and MHS to respond to the assault allegation.
“Inova has been in contact with the patient, their family, and the contracted staffing agency in regard to this troubling alleged incident,” a spokesperson for the nonprofit said in a statement. “Safety is central to everything we do at Inova, and we expect all who work or provide services in our care sites to meet that high standard.”
The FCPD says anyone with additional information about the case can contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS), and online.
“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars,” the FCPD said. “Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.”
A preliminary hearing for Alvarez has been set for 2 p.m. on Sept. 28.
Photo via Google Maps
Inova Health System’s proposal to build a new hospital in Franconia is moving forward with the blessing of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
At a meeting last Wednesday (July 27), the commission voted unanimously in favor of Inova’s plan to build a medical campus northwest of the intersection of Franconia-Springfield Parkway and Beulah Street. The existing HealthPlex at 6355 Walker Lane would remain on the site.
If approved, the campus would be built out in two phases, with the first phase including a 144-bed, roughly 407,000-square-foot hospital, a utility plant, a 134,100-square-foot outpatient center, and the existing HealthPlex.
But a request that Inova consider moving its overhead facilities in a reservation area to allow a future interchange drew contention from the applicant during a July 20 public hearing.
The applicant’s representative Timothy Sampson said it was unfair for state and local transportation officials to ask Inova to relocate its utilities to make way for a future interchange that the Virginia Department of Transportation has planned in the area — a project that is contemplated in the long-term.
“My point is that it’s not fair at all to say that what Inova is doing is costing the public right,” Sampson said. “What Inova is doing is saving the public by giving the right-of-way. “
Fairfax County Department of Transportation staff member Marc Dreyfuss said that if Inova does not commit to relocating the proposed facilities, the public would bear the burden of removing utilities in the area.
“It would be on the public to relocate them in the future,” said Dreyfuss.
Dreyfuss told the planning commission last week that Inova has agreed to locate its utilities within 21 feet of the right-of-way line for the interchange project.
“This will allow the utilities to be placed in a location that will be under the future shared-use path and landscape buffer, but not under the roadway, which would be acceptable for VDOT in the future,” he said. “So, we believe that this resolves the challenge that we worked through last week, and we no longer have any transportation issue with the application.”
The second phase of the project would expand the hospital by 72 beds and the outpatient center by 82,600 square feet. Inova is formally seeking the county’s permission to rezone the property from industrial uses to a planned development community.
The main hospital would include an emergency department, an imaging department, below-grade parking, and a helipad to serve the emergency department.
The emergency center would not include a level one or level two trauma center, which means that the proposed helipad won’t see many emergency trips.
“The proposed helicopter operations at the application property would have extremely limited impact on the surrounding area,” Sampson said.
Overall, 2,202 parking spaces will service the campus.
The nonprofit health care provider spent more than $40 million in 2020 to acquire property in a residential area near the Inova HealthPlex, turning the site into a 21-acre campus in lieu of the Liberty View mixed-use development that had previously been approved.
There is still other development in store for the Franconia-Springfield Metro area, including a new townhouse complex on Beulah Street and a new Franconia Government Center. To the north, the existing government center could be replaced by affordable housing.
“The expansion is expected to meet the needs of a growing population, which is expected to grow by more than 50,000 people by 2030,” Sampson said.
(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Inova is one step closer to getting the planned expansion of its Franconia-Springfield medical campus to 21 acres.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission voted unanimously last night (Wednesday) to endorse an amended plan for the multi-million dollar Inova HealthPlex on Walker Lane and bordering the Franconia-Springfield Parkway.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to hold a public hearing and, possibly, vote on approving the plan at the end of this month (June 28). A concurrent rezoning application for the project is scheduled to go before the planning commission on July 20.
The amended, consolidated plan calls for the five-story, 146,000-square-foot Inova medical building to remain with the addition of three new six-story medical buildings. All told, it would add 296,000 square feet of medical care, medical offices, and ancillary/support uses to create a “regional medical campus.”
As noted in last night’s meeting, the additions mean an updated emergency room, modernized inpatient and outpatient facilities, more centrally located offices, and better parking.
There’s also an option to add upward of 500,000 square feet of more medical space, hotels, residential, or, even, retail to the parcel of land next door.
This is all being done within just over half a mile from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.
“The proposed Medical Campus Option for 1,000,000 square feet of medical care, medical office, and ancillary uses in Land Units S and U would help to address the healthcare needs of the region’s residents and creates an opportunity to promote Transit-Oriented Development at this location,” reads the staff report.
If the board approves the plan later this month, construction could start by late 2023 with a completion date of 2027.
The planning commission’s discussion of the proposal touched on a new roundabout that will hopefully slow down traffic and allow emergency vehicles to exit and enter the facility more swiftly. There was talk about updated and repaved trails, but concerns remained regarding how protected pedestrians will be from “high speed traffic” on the Franconia-Springfield Parkway.
Commenters also raised noise concerns. During the public hearing portion, one neighbor who lives just behind the site for the new facilities on Ayers Meadow Lane expressed fear that the addition of potentially thousands of new employees could lead to more noise and traffic in the area — plus, the ambulances.
“When you are talking about ambulances going up and down the street, how many will have their sirens on in the middle of the night?” the neighbor said.
County staff and Inova representatives responded that they are commissioning a noise study, will work on noise abatement measures, and generally trust drivers to know when to use their sirens. They appreciate the “burden” neighbors will be taking on with the added noise but cautioned that ambulances not using their sirens isn’t an option.
Update at 5:35 p.m. — Two of the three teenage pedestrians that were struck in a crash in Oakton this morning have died from their injuries, Fairfax County Police said. The three pedestrians that were struck were Oakton High School students, police said.
UPDATE: Sadly, two of the three teenagers succumbed to their injuries at the hospital. The third pedestrian remains hospitalized. Follow our blog, https://t.co/lhGv3NDvYs, for updates when available.https://t.co/NnFatoHg5E
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) June 7, 2022
Earlier: Five juveniles were transported to the hospital this afternoon (Tuesday) after a car crashed into an SUV, then ricocheted into a group of three teenage pedestrians and a utility pole in Oakton, Fairfax County police said.
The three pedestrians have life-threatening injuries and the driver and front passenger of the car were transported with non-life-threatening injuries, Maj. Eli Cory said at a press conference. Rear passengers in the car — a white BMW — fled the scene, he said.
Just before noon, the BMW was traveling southbound on Blake Lane while a green Toyota 4Runner was traveling northbound. The 4Runner waited for the three teens to cross the roadway and then started to turn onto Five Oaks Road.
“The BMW, which we believe was traveling at a very high rate of speed, made impact with the Toyota on the front driver’s side of the vehicle, that caused the initial part of the crash to occur,” Cory said.
The white BMW then struck the three pedestrians and hit a pole before coming to a rest down the street, Cory said.
Officers were directing traffic this afternoon through the intersection, which had debris scattered around the south side of Blake Lane.
The toppled wooden utility pole was downed onto Blake Lane. A Dominion Energy truck arrived on the scene around 1:30 p.m.
Safety at the intersection is becoming a growing concern of some residents, including Nancy Degrendi, who lives nearby on Five Oaks Road.
Though she wasn’t present when the crash occurred, Degrendi could hear helicopters circling the neighborhood and came out to see what had happened after learning that there had been a crash from WTOP.
She says the intersection sees a lot of people walking to and from the nearby Vienna Metro station and Oakton High School, which had released students three hours early today. Mosaic Elementary School is also just half a mile away.
Traffic can be particularly tough in the mornings, when Degrendi takes her son to a nearby private school. In addition to worrying about vehicle speeds, she has complained to the Virginia Department of Transportation about northbound drivers making U-turns on Blake Lane.
“This intersection is becoming more and more of a problem,” Degrendi told FFXnow.
Officers are onscene of a two-vehicle crash involving pedestrians at Blake Ln & Five Oaks Rd in Fairfax. 6 people taken to the hospital, 3 life-threatening injuries, 3 non-life-threatening injuries. Please avoid the area. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/SlNhYFDzk6
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) June 7, 2022
Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.
Updated on 6/8/2022 — Tysons Emergency is now in service after a grand opening on Friday, June 3.
Earlier: 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.”
Firefighters at the Reston Fire Station on Wiehle Avenue were met with a different kind of task this morning (Tuesday).
A crew of fire fighters helped deliver a baby around 8:30 a.m. today. According to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the parents were on their way to the hospital, but the baby simply could not wait.
The car pulled up in the station’s parking lot, and everything was history after that point. After the birth, the fire department provided transportation to the hospital, and both mom and baby are now doing well.
There is no word yet on the little human’s name.
Special delivery! 🍼 Fire Station 25, Reston, B-Shift delivered a healthy baby girl in the parking lot of station around 8:30 this morning. Parents were headed to hospital but baby could not wait! 👶🏼 Fortunately they saw the station, drove in, and notified shift! Congrats all! pic.twitter.com/xEgDrYnNqS
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) May 17, 2022