Newsletter

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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Reston Hospital Center is constructing a new emergency room in Tysons (Courtesy Reston Hospital Center)

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Construction has begun on a new, standalone emergency room in the heart of Tysons, Reston Hospital Center announced today (Wednesday).

The freestanding 14,000 square-foot facility will be located at 8240 Leesburg Pike within walking distance of the Tysons and Greensboro Metro stations. That is approximately six miles north of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church.

The closest healthcare facility in the immediate Tysons area right now is Kaiser Permanente’s Tysons Corner Medical Center (8008 Westpark Dr.), which has an ambulatory surgery center but no emergency room. It provides urgent care but only by referral, according to its website.

“We welcome the expansion of healthcare facilities and providers serving Tysons and its surrounding communities,” Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner said in a statement to Tysons Reporter.

Reston Hospital, which is part of the HCA Virginia Health System, says it hopes to open the new emergency department in the first quarter of 2022.

“Upon launch, the 11-treatment room, state-of-the-art ER will be staffed with board-certified emergency room physicians and nurses, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and offer the same services provided in an emergency room that is housed within the walls of a hospital,” the hospital said in a news release.

Reston Hospital announced the emergency room as part of a slate of investments totaling $70 million that are expected to be completed over the next three years.

Located near Reston Town Center at 1850 Town Center Parkway, Reston Hospital Center contains 231 beds and offers a variety of medical and surgical services, including around-the-clock emergency care with a dedicated pediatric emergency room and Level II trauma center, an Institute of Robotic Surgery, and an Inpatient Rehabilitation Center.

According to the news release, the new investments come on the heels of a multi-year expansion of the hospital’s Reston campus that concluded in early 2020. Along with the Tysons emergency room, other initiatives include technology upgrades, an expansion of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center, and the launch of a neurointerventional suite that provides treatment for stroke patients.

The hospital also introduced an augmented reality system that assists with surgeries in October.

“These service expansions, investments and improvements are critical in helping us to continue delivering on our commitment as a premier specialty hospital, as well as being recognized as the healthcare provider and the employer of choice in the Northern Virginia region,” Reston Hospital Center President and CEO John Deardorff said.

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Inova Health System will open a new cancer screening and prevention center on its Center for Personalized Health campus in Merrifield, the nonprofit healthcare network announced on Nov. 10.

Expected to open in fall 2021, the new 24,000 square-foot cancer screening center will be an expansion of the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, which opened on Innovation Park Drive in May 2019.

The center is being supported by a $20 million donation from Paul and Linda Saville, Inova says.

Paul Saville is the president and CEO of the Reston-based home construction company NVR, Inc., whose founder and chairman, Dwight Schar, and his wife Martha donated $50 million to build the Schar Cancer Institute, according to the Washington Business Journal.

“We’ve all been impacted by cancer, and many of us know someone who has died from cancer due to a late diagnosis,” Paul Saville said. “We hope that many more people will have access to early detection and treatment and avoid serious disease.”

Inova says the new center made possible by the Savilles’ donation will be the first of its kind in Northern Virginia, which currently lacks a “comprehensive, multidisciplinary, organized cancer screening and prevention program.”

The center will provide screenings to detect breast, lung, prostate, bladder, pancreatic, colorectal, head and neck, skin, cervical, uterine, ovarian, and other cancers.

Preventative resources for patients who may be at high risk of developing cancer will include genetic testing, opportunities for clinical trials, and education on nutrition and exercise.

“The Savilles’ commitment to help us create a state-of-the-art early detection and prevention center is bringing us a giant step closer to becoming the leading cancer institute in our region,” Inova Health System President and CEO J. Stephen Jones said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently list cancer as the second most frequent cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease, but that appears to be based on data from 2018.

According to Inova, cancer surpassed cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in America this year.

“By providing members of our community accessible, multidisciplinary screening and prevention services in a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach, we hope to cure more cancers by catching them early,” Schar Cancer Institute President John Deeken said. “And through programs such as smoking cessation, as well as dietary and exercise interventions, we hope to prevent more and more cancers in the years ahead.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Clinics and medical facilities are beginning to offer yearly vaccines as flu season approaches.

People who received their annual flu shot in a 2018 study were 82% less likely to be admitted to the ICU for potentially life-threatening symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Most people six months and older can receive a dose of the flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said, adding that people can either choose the shot or the nasal spray.

The CDC suggests that those eligible should receive their yearly flu vaccine before the end of October.

Tysons Reporter previously did a round-up of clinics and medical facilities locally offering the vaccine on a walk-up basis.

 Photo via Hyttalo Souza on Unsplash

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People wondering where they can go to get tested for COVID-19 in Virginia now have a new resource.

The Virginia Department of Health made a map of facilities offering testing. Tysons Reporter took a look and found the phone numbers, addresses and requirements for testing at the sites in the Tysons area.

For people on the fence about whether or not to get tested, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information and things people should consider before seeking medical attention.

Tysons

AllCare/Synergy Immediate Care (1980 Gallows Road) is offering tests Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 p.m. until 1:30 p.m., the site said, adding that results will usually be available within three business days. People must first go through a phone appointment before being referred to a drive-thru test, the page added.

Inova Urgent Care Center (8357 Leesburg Pike) is open for testing seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. People must visit with a provider first, who will then order a test for the patient, according to the website. 

Falls Church 

Kaiser Permanente at the Falls Church Medical Center (201 N. Washington Street) is offering tests for Kaiser patients only once they meet with a doctor or nurse, the page said. Drive-thru testing is available seven days a week from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and again from 3:30-7:3o p.m.

McLean

Mclean Medical Center & Urgent Care (6858 Old Dominion Drive) accepts all insurances and is open for walk-in care from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays, the website said. 

Mclean Pharmacy (1392 Chain Bridge Road) offers testing for Medicare patients Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. People must call ahead at 571-488-6030.

McLean Immediate Care (1340 Old Chain Bridge Road) offers testing for anyone who thinks they may have the virus. A drive-in test costs $175, the website said. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 6 p.m. 

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To check-in with local doctors to see how they are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tysons Reporter reached out to Kaiser Permanente, which has locations all over the mid-Atlantic region.

Dennis Truong is the regional telemedicine director and assistant physician in chief in Northern Virginia for Kaiser Permanente, who sees patients at the Tysons Corner Kaiser medical center, according to a KP spokesperson.

Truong told Tysons Reporter in a Q&A about his experience helping patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How are you feeling emotionally during this time?

Each day is a crazy mix of emotions. To keep a balanced mind, I take time every morning to acknowledge each one, from worrying about loved ones and colleagues, near and far, to the stress of getting the necessary work things done in this race against time. But with these emotions also brings appreciation, for what I have and for the opportunity to serve others and transform health care during this pandemic.

Many of us health care workers have trained and prepared most of our lives to serve in a moment like this. So overall, I feel emotionally strong because I’m inspired by those around me and know that doing my part, while they do theirs, will get us through this.

Each day also bring elements of pleasant emotional surprises, from family texting jokes and spontaneous words of encouragement and appreciation, to dentist friends donating masks from their practices, to colleagues willing to pitch in to help when telehealth surges all hours of the day.

This leads to the most important emotion — a glimpse of happiness — as we’re seeing how so many people care about each other’s well-being and are willing to take personal responsibility to help “flatten the curve.”

For many of my health care colleagues around the world, hope and happiness fuels us to keep fighting the fight with a positive attitude against COVID-19.

What is the attitude of patients who come in for things other than COVID-19 concerns?

In three short weeks, we’ve dramatically transformed the care delivery system at Kaiser Permanente in the mid-Atlantic region to meet the needs of our members virtually.

More than 85% of our encounters are now virtual across urgent care, primary care, and specialty care departments. This paradigm shift was possible for three key reasons. First, at Kaiser Permanente we’ve been doing virtual care (aka telehealth) since 2013 so our providers were prepared.

Also, the Kaiser Permanente culture has always been patient-centric and extremely responsive to the needs of our members. The ability to quickly pivot and rapidly scale our telehealth offerings across all services was universal.

Last, we communicated with our members early and often, so they understood the significance of using our telehealth options before they came into a clinic to keep themselves and our communities safe.

Almost all of our patients use our telehealth options of the advice nurse, e-visits, phone visits and video visits to get personalized care and care coordination before coming in to one of our medical centers. We’ve had many patients express gratitude for being able to access care, for COVID and many other medical needs that are still arising, from the comfort of home.

Do you feel that there are enough medical supplies in the Reston, Tysons, McLean and Falls Church area to support the needs of patients and doctors? What are you running low on?

COVID is now spreading quickly through many communities including here in the D.C. area and our equipment and supply needs have increased significantly as a result. Yet, we have leveraged our national network and with the support of our supply teams and our staff, have increased our supply of personal protective equipment. Through diligent conservation efforts and ongoing procurement efforts, we have the appropriate PPE to protect our team today and in the days ahead.

What trends or changes to the medical system have surprised you the most during this pandemic?

Since early March at Kaiser Permanente, we have seen a total delivery system transformation to “virtual first.” This means that our first approach to an appointment is a virtual appointment through video, phone or secure email. We have evolved to providing more than 85% of all encounters virtually. Our priority has been keeping our members safe and educating and notifying them about care choices. It is amazing how many patients and providers are now using our system “virtual first.”

How prepared is the NoVA area compared to the rest of the country for the peak of the pandemic? When do you think the peak will happen?

The latest information indicates that we could see a surge of patients in our region over the next two to three weeks. However, these models are changing and this timing may change too. We are working diligently to make sure that we are ready to care for all our patients whether they come this week, next week or later. We are also set up to continue expanding our virtual care and pharmacy delivery options as the surge occurs.

How will the pandemic affect people who come into the ER with other (non-COVID-19) life-threatening emergencies?

We are using our robust telehealth services to have our physicians safely evaluate and follow members at their homes. If patients show up to our centers, we have created separate areas to triage COVID and non-COVID patients.

For COVID patients, we triage them to a special triage location with skilled emergency medicine physicians dedicated to that work. Therefore, other patients coming to us for urgent care are treated in separate area by a separate group of emergency physicians to assure continued delivery of highest quality care.

How do you feel that this pandemic will affect the rest of your career in healthcare?

The pandemic has already affected my career in extraordinary ways. As a board-certified emergency physician, I trained in Detroit hospital systems that only knew about dealing with emergencies or those that couldn’t afford preventative care. As an active-duty Air Force physician, I learned the importance of structure but lacked the right technology.

When I came to Kaiser Permanente, I learned the importance of proactive and integrated care alongside a provider and patient-friendly electronic medical records. As the director of Virtual Care for Kaiser Permanente, I am part of a team that has spent years preparing our technology and organizational culture to understand the important role virtual care has in safely extending our care delivery reach.

Every pandemic is an opportunity to learn, and when the dust settles on COVID-19, I believe the U.S. health care system and our citizens will have fully embraced telehealth as the leading approach in healthcare.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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