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Morning Notes

Johns Hopkins Medicine’s McLean Office Now Open — Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP) announced yesterday (Thursday) that its new primary care office in McLean Gateway (6849 Old Dominion Drive) is now open. The group’s first in Virginia, the practice operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. [JHCP]

Founders Row Secures Movie Theater — Developer Mill Creek told the Falls Church City Council’s Economic Development Committee that a letter of intent has been signed for an eight-screen movie theater planned for the 4.3-acre mixed-use project on Broad and West streets. The name was not revealed, but the company is reportedly headquartered in the D.C. area. [Falls Church News-Press]

Fairfax County Adds Spanish Closed-Captioning — All public meetings and live events that air on Fairfax County’s cable channel will have Spanish closed captions available, starting Tuesday (Feb. 8).  This includes Board of Supervisors and planning commission meetings as well as budget town halls and public safety press conferences. [Channel 16]

Metro Appoints New Police Chief — “Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld today announced that Interim Chief Michael L. Anzallo will serve as Metro Transit Police Department’s new chief. Anzallo was asked to lead MTPD in August 2021 and helped steer the department through pandemic-related challenges with an emphasis on community policing throughout the region.” [WMATA]

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The stakes are high for the first students at the Arizona College of Nursing’s new school in Fairview Park.

They started classes on Jan. 3, as a snowstorm disrupted travel across Fairfax County and the surging omicron variant of the coronavirus strained hospitals locally and nationwide.

Yet, reports of an overwhelmed healthcare system have not deterred the 22 students in the school’s inaugural class from pursuing a career in nursing. In fact, some of them made that choice because of the pandemic, according to Yolanda Turner, dean of nursing for Arizona College of Nursing-Falls Church.

“We have seen students come in with an interest in nursing, especially those who feel the need to help that was compelled by the images that they saw on national television, what was occurring in the hospitals and emergency departments and ICUs across the country,” Turner said. “So, we do have a group of students who came in because they felt a calling to come in and help.”

The pandemic was already underway when Eduvision Inc., the company that operates Arizona College, submitted plans to Fairfax County for a new nursing school in August 2020.

However, Turner says the workforce shortage that led the college system to establish its first Virginia campus predates COVID-19.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the D.C. metropolitan area ranks 10th in the country in terms of the number of registered nurses employed, but the concentration of nurses in the area is well below the national average, as of May 2020.

With school enrollment trailing demand among the factors behind the shortage, the Arizona College of Nursing hopes to improve the area’s workforce pipeline by offering an accelerated program where students can obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in three years or less.

“Our nursing program employs a mixture of classroom learning and hands-on training in our state-of-the-art simulation labs and through clinical rotations,” Arizona College of Nursing President Nick Mansour said in a statement. “Nursing is all we will teach at this location so students can be confident that our accredited, career-focused, BSN program will prepare them for a fulfilling nursing career.”

Located near Inova Fairfax Hospital, which could eventually be connected via pedestrian bridge over I-495, the new school opened at 3130 Fairview Park Drive on Nov. 17.

Turner says the initial cohort mostly comes from Northern Virginia and surpassed the college’s goal of 18 students. The campus has a capacity of 400 students and is expected to expand in three to five years.

“That interest that’s been generated, we’re excited, because it’s more than we predicted…and our team is growing to accommodate that interest,” she said.

Classes are being conducted both in-person and virtually, with the liberal arts and social sciences online and all nursing, natural science, and math courses in the school building.

In addition to following mask and social distancing protocols, students will need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once they start clinical work, in accordance with the federal mandate for healthcare workers.

The pandemic has also filtered into the curriculum, putting an increased focus on topics like public health, disaster preparedness, infectious control, ventilation management, and mental health for both patients and staff.

Emphasizing these subjects will help prepare students for a future in health care, Turner says, as the field reckons with issues exacerbated by the pandemic, which has led nearly 1 in 5 workers to quit.

Aware that students can experience burnout too, the Arizona College of Nursing provides counseling services as well as tutoring and learning resources. The small student body also enables strong personal connections between staff and pupils.

“The feedback that we got [on the first month] from our students is very positive, from the students, the staff, and the faculty,” Turner said. “The level of excitement and motivation remains very high.”

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An ad for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians’ upcoming McLean primary care office hangs in Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is expanding into Fairfax County.

The school’s community physicians network will open a primary care office in McLean in February, Carolyn Carpenter, president for the Johns Hopkins Health System in the National Capital Region, confirmed to Tysons Reporter.

With the goal of bringing health care services to local neighborhoods, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians operates more than 40 medical practices in Maryland and D.C., but this will be the group’s first location in Virginia.

“Access to care, especially primary care, continues to be needed in our communities,” Carpenter said by email. “…The Johns Hopkins Community Physicians practice will provide comprehensive care to community members who live and work in Tysons Corner and the surrounding areas.”

Located in Suite 300 in the McLean Gateway office building at 6849 Old Dominion Drive, the 8,000 square-foot practice will have 12 exam rooms and provide adult primary care, specialty, and ancillary services, including lab services, electrocardiograms (EKGs), and COVID-19 testing.

Patients will be able to choose between in-person and video visits. Like Johns Hopkins’ other facilities, the new office will require face masks and have a COVID-19 vaccination mandate in place for employees and medical staff, among other protocols.

According to Carpenter, the office will initially be staffed by two primary care physicians, including Dr. Marwah Tareen, who has been seeing patients at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians on I Street in D.C. since summer 2021.

The staff is expected to expand in subsequent months. Gynecologic oncology providers, for example, will come on board in the spring.

Carpenter says Johns Hopkins wanted to expand into Virginia through McLean because of its proximity to Tysons as an employment hub.

“Establishing this practice also aligns with development efforts for Johns Hopkins Health System’s National Capital Region by expanding access to services offered by Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. and Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md.,” she wrote.

The Johns Hopkins practice joins a growing number of new health care facilities seeking to serve the booming Tysons area.

Heale Medical opened a primary care practice near the Chain Bridge Road and Leesburg Pike interchange in September, and Reston Hospital Center is building a new emergency room that’s expected to open this spring.

In addition, Inova Health Systems recently introduced a cancer screening and prevention center to its Schar Cancer Institute in Merrifield. The Saville center is currently only open to breast cancer patients, but an expansion is anticipated in the next few months, a Schar employee told Tysons Reporter.

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Reston Hospital Center is recruiting staff for a new emergency room in Tysons (courtesy Reston Hospital Center)

The emergency room that Reston Hospital Center is building in Tysons isn’t expected to open for another three months, but efforts to staff the new facility are already underway.

HCA Healthcare Inc., the Nashville-based company that owns Reston Hospital, currently has 26 positions listed in its job database for the Tysons ER, a standalone facility that will be located at 8240 Leesburg Pike between Tysons Corner Center and the Route 123 interchange.

The project has encountered some construction challenges due to pandemic-related supply shortages, but it is currently on target for an April launch, according to HCA Healthcare spokesperson Suzanne Kelly.

With almost a quarter of U.S. hospitals reporting staffing shortages earlier this month amid surging Covid cases, HCA told Tysons Reporter’s sister site Reston Now that its most critical vacancies are the job openings for the Tysons emergency room, particularly when it comes to nurses and imaging professionals.

“Like healthcare organizations nationwide, Reston Hospital Center is working to address a tight labor market, which coincides with nursing workforce shortages compounded by the pandemic,” Kelly said in a statement. “As part of the HCA Virginia Health System, our facilities are working to retain our existing colleagues, attract new nurses, and encouraging and supporting those considering a career in nursing through education programs.”

Set to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the 14,000 square-foot Tysons emergency department will have 11 private treatment rooms, including a trauma room and 10 exam rooms, and provide the same services as at a hospital-based emergency room.

In addition to registered nurses, the facility is seeking a clinical coordinator, radiologic and ultrasound technologists, a director of emergency services, and maintenance workers.

To address immediate staffing needs, HCA is offering a $20,000 sign-on bonus to registered nurses with at least one year of experience, including for positions in the Tysons ER, according to its job postings.

The healthcare system said in a statement that it’s also recruiting nurses from other states and even internationally to work in Virginia, adjusting pay, and implementing “incentive and recognition programs,” among other “aggressive recruitment efforts”:

To support immediate staffing shortages, we’re offering sign on bonuses and employee referral bonuses.  Additionally, we are also recruiting nurses from other states and even other countries to come to Virginia to support our nurses and help ensure we are providing top quality care to our patients during this unprecedented time. We are attracting new nurses to work at our facilities through aggressive recruitment efforts including sign-on bonuses and referral bonuses in strategic areas and specialties. We also continue to partner with bricks-and-mortar colleges and universities, and online programs, to attract more people to choose careers in healthcare. This will build a future pipeline to fill long-term healthcare staffing needs.

As reported by Reston Now this morning, HCA is now requiring employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine after the Supreme Court allowed a federal mandate issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take effect last Thursday (Jan. 13).

While most D.C. area hospitals were already requiring their staff to get vaccinated, HCA put its requirement on hold in November after a federal judge blocked the CMS mandate.

Reston Hospital says it will comply with the mandate so it can keep serving Medicare and Medicaid patients.

“Any HCA Healthcare colleague who works in, or has work-related reasons to visit, these facilities or care settings is required to have their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by January 27 and be fully vaccinated by February 28, unless they receive a medical or religious exemption,” Kelly said by email.

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Vienna residents looking for a free, rapid COVID-19 test might have to venture a little farther in the new year.

After Friday (Dec. 31), the town’s only drive-thru testing site will vacate the Emmaus United Church of Christ parking lot that it has occupied since March, even with demand for COVID-19 testing soaring amid the ongoing omicron surge.

Personic Health Care, which operates multiple testing sites across Northern Virginia, was permitted to set up a testing facility at 900 Maple Avenue East under Vienna’s emergency ordinance waiving zoning regulations for temporary outdoor commercial activities.

The town council voted on Dec. 6 to extend the ordinance through Dec. 31, but it can’t be renewed beyond six months after Virginia ended its state of emergency, which happened on June 30.

Once the emergency ordinance expires, the Personic testing site will no longer be allowed in its current location, which isn’t zoned for commercial uses. Unless the town council undertakes the lengthy process of amending Vienna’s zoning code, New Year’s Eve will be the facility’s last day.

“We wracked our brains to see if there was something that could cover it under current zoning,” Vienna Town Attorney Steven Briglia said at the town council meeting. “We stretched the emergency ordinance as far as we could.”

John Mauthe, the moderator at Vienna’s Emmaus United Church of Christ, says the church agreed to rent its parking lot to Personic for the testing site in early 2021 after it was approached by the health care company, which formed in response to the pandemic.

The church obtained the temporary permit from the Town of Vienna, but the facility isn’t an official church program.

“We were excited about it because it gave another rapid test availability to residents that wanted it, that needed it,” Mauthe said.

The site opened on March 16, offering free, rapid antigen testing that provided results in 15 minutes as well as RT-PCR tests with results guaranteed within 24 to 48 hours. It accepts people without health insurance, though a social security number is required, according to the website.

Mauthe says his church hasn’t experienced any issues with the testing site, since its hours don’t interfere with weekend worship services.

The surge in demand over the past couple of weeks, though, contributed to traffic backups on Maple Avenue, prompting Personic to start requiring appointments. When FFXnow contacted the Vienna site last week, an agent said they had been “bombarded” with calls.

When called yesterday (Tuesday), a Personic agent confirmed that all of the company’s testing sites in the area, including the Vienna one, are booked until next week. She said each facility accommodates about 100 appointments per day.

Personic also has locations in McLean, Tysons, Herndon, Springfield, Alexandria, and Annandale.

Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert says the drive-thru testing site has been “an important public health resource,” but there will still be multiple locations offering testing services in the Vienna area, including primary care offices and commercial pharmacies.

The Virginia Department of Health’s testing site map only shows one other location within the Town of Vienna — a primary care physician’s office — but there are several sites in Tysons and Merrifield.

A town spokesperson says Walgreens is offering testing at its stores on Maple Avenue and Nutley Street.

“While the increase in COVID-19 cases is of concern, we are also mindful that the hospitalization rate is not nearly what it was this time last year, which gives us hope that the vaccine is doing what it was designed to do — reduce the risk of serious illness,” Colbert said in a statement. “The Town Council will continue to monitor the situation and consult with public health officials to determine if additional resources are needed.”

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Morning Notes

Virginia Hospital Center Expands into Tysons — “The Arlington health system has purchased a building at 1760 Old Meadow Road where it’s setting up an orthopedic outpatient surgery center, according to VHC CEO Jim Cole. The hospital is now renovating a 14,900-square-foot area of existing building in a project expected to cost $6.4 million including construction and equipment…The facility is slated to open in mid-2022.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Releases FY 2023 Budget Forecast — Fairfax County anticipates a 5.7% revenue increase of approximately $279.6 million for fiscal year 2023, which starts July 1, 2022. However, the gains will be offset by continued declines in real estate values for office buildings and senior care facilities due to the pandemic. [Fairfax County Government]

County Police Focus on Recruitment and Violent Crimes — “While monitoring disturbing trends such as domestic homicides and increasingly violent vehicle thieves, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis hopes to hire more officers and implement changes to modernize the police department. The county’s overall crime rate now is down by slightly more than 12%, or about 3,500 fewer victims compared with the previous year.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Town of Vienna Offices Closed Tomorrow — “Town offices and the Community Center will be closed Nov. 25 for Thanksgiving. There will be no trash collection on Nov. 25, crews will pick up along that route the next day. The Community Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 26, while Town offices will be closed.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Visit Fairfax Launches Holiday Gift Guide — “Ali Morris at Visit Fairfax, the county’s official tourism and hospitality promotion group, created the Fairfax County 2021 Holiday Gift Guide to showcase gift-worthy products created right here and the artisans behind the creations. You can shop by these categories: art and designs; body; chocolate; coffee; food; kids; pets; stocking stuffers; textiles; wine, beer and spirits.” [FCEDA]

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A Tysons runner who partially tore her ankle during a Marine Corps Marathon last year had been working with Kaiser Permanente to get a surgery until she was told the procedure would be delayed.

She’s just one of the patients who will need to wait for relief while Kaiser upgrades the sterile processing equipment at its Tysons Corner Medical Center (8008 Westpark Drive), which is currently operating its ambulatory surgery center at reduced capacity, according to the health care company.

Kaiser Permanente spokesperson Marisa Lavine said in an email that the medical center is temporarily using four out of its six operating rooms, along with one of two outpatient procedure rooms. She said the updates will be completed by the end of December.

“Currently, cases that we are unable to accommodate at Tysons are being scheduled at one of our other medical centers or at our partner hospitals,” Lavine said.

The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Licensure and Certification received notification on Sept. 7 that the Tysons Corner Medical Center would have limited operational status due to replacing equipment and other updates.

The runner’s husband, Jeff Weisman, said his wife went to a foot specialist, but because she’s still able to walk, the surgery was deemed elective. When she heard from a colleague experiencing a similar scheduling issue, they learned more about why surgeries were being delayed.

“My wife really enjoys running so I was a bit let down that this delay in getting her surgery scheduled would cause her to miss out on months of running and training for another marathon,” Weisman said in an email.

He added that they’ve both had positive experiences with Kaiser Permanente but felt disappointed by the communication from the health care network in handling the situation.

“We apologize to our members for any inconvenience they experience as we make these important upgrades,” Lavine wrote.

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Morning Notes

County to Seek Input on Safe Streets Program — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will hold two virtual public meetings in November to present draft recommendations for a Fairfax County Safe Streets for All Program. Developed by county’s ActiveFairfax team, the program is “a comprehensive initiative to address systemic transportation safety issues for people walking, biking and using other forms of active transportation.” [FCDOT]

Virginia Among Top States in COVID-19 Vaccinations — “Virginia now ranks 10th among all states for the percentage of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and for the total number of shots administered. More than 82 percent of individuals 18 years and older have received at least one dose and 74 percent of adults are fully vaccinated.” [Office of the Governor]

Local Magnet School Admissions Now Open — “Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology…has opened its application process for admissions for the Class of 2026. This will be the second year that applications for the school’s 550 freshmen seats will be reviewed using the new admissions process which eliminated the standardized admissions test and the $100 application fee, while continuing to maintain the school’s high academic standards.” [FCPS]

Madison Student Launches Art Business — “A business showcasing the art of Madison High School students is looking to build connections with Vienna area businesses by offering professional artwork services. Spectra Artwork is the brainchild of Madison High School senior Colin Crowley, combining his skills in business and marketing with the talents of his artist friends.” [Patch]

McLean Startup Raises Funds for Healthcare Jobs App — “ShiftMed, one of the largest workforce management platforms in health care with over 60,000 credentialed health care professionals, has raised $45 million led by health care investors, Panoramic Ventures and Heathworx…In 2021, the company has already hired more than 10,000 nurses, which provided over 1 million hours of care, and received more than 100,000 app downloads.” [ShiftMed]

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Heale Medical reception desk rendering (courtesy Heale Medical)

A new primary care medical office is having its grand opening in Tysons today (Tuesday).

Heale Medical is opening at 8300 Boone Boulevard, an office building just south of the Chain Bridge Road and Leesburg Pike interchange, at 11 a.m.

Founder Dr. Amit Newatia told Tysons Reporter that, despite the area’s swelling population, there’s limited access to primary care treatment. There are, at least according to Google, around a dozen medical clinics or general practitioners in Tysons, along with a new emergency room opening next year.

“Despite this population growth, the area suffers from a dearth of options for modern primary care offices that customize care to the individual,” Newatia said. “Traditional primary care offices fail to fully cater to this evolving group of highly discerning patients, especially when it comes to long-term and preventative care. Heale Medical offers a unique perspective on primary care where patients are treated with great dignity and are given incredible empowerment over their health.”

According to the Heale Medical social media page, the office works with all major insurance carriers, though co-pays apply depending on the insurance.

Annual membership fees for Heale Medical are $199, but a press release said the practice is offering free membership for the first year for locals who sign up between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1.

The press release noted that patients have access to health an wellness support services, as well as “health screenings, management of acute and urgent illnesses or injuries, and chronic conditions.”

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Morning Notes

Construction Begins on New Tysons ER — “HCA Virginia, the health system behind Reston Hospital Center, has started construction on a Tysons emergency room and aims to open it in early 2022…Located at 8240 Leesburg Pike, Tysons Emergency will be an ER open 24 hours daily with full-service emergency care.” [Patch]

Just 40% of Metro Workers Vaccinated Against COVID-19 — “Metro’s top executive warned employees Monday that the transit system might start mandatory coronavirus tests if the agency’s vaccination rate doesn’t climb to at least 70 percent. Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a memo to employees that about 40 percent of Metro’s workforce has indicated being vaccinated in an employee database.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 Widening Work Still on Schedule — Work on the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway project remains on schedule for the extended toll lanes to open in December 2022, the Virginia Department of Transportation says. Nearly 2,000 workers are currently involved in the project with bridges and ramps at the I-66/I-495 interchange among the most noticeable construction. [Inside NoVA]

Tysons Library Book Sales Return — For the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library friends’ group will host a book sale. To avoid overcrowding, attendees on the first day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 18 will be required to register for a two-hour time slot in advance, but entry will not be restricted for the rest of the sale from Aug. 19-22. [Fairfax County Public Library]

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