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Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Colonoscopies are a Slam Dunk

EMPORIA, VA - According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is one of the top five most common cancers in the United States—and it is the third leading cause of death by cancer in Americans. Colorectal cancer often goes undetected because symptoms do not usually occur until the disease is advanced.

“Colorectal cancer affects both men and women equally,” says colorectal surgeon Homayoon Akbari, MD, PhD, FACS. “Because your risk for the cancer increases after age 50, regular screenings are recommended for adults age 50 and older. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, certain gastroenterological conditions or diseases, eat a diet high in fat content, or smoke, you are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.”

The good news is that with early detection – through a colonoscopy – the survival rate dramatically increases. If colon cancer is detected before it spreads, the five-year survival rate is about 90 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute, but if not caught before the cancer spreads to other organs, the survival rate dips to about 14 percent.

“A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor, usually a gastroenterologist, to see inside the colon and rectum,” explains Dr. Akbari. “Used as either a screening test or a diagnostic tool, it can help your doctor investigate early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum, as well as help diagnose the causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits, including abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and unexplained weight loss. If anything abnormal is observed, such as a polyp or growth, it is painlessly removed at that time and later tested in a laboratory for signs of cancer.”

Depending on your age, a colonoscopy screening may be a covered “wellness” test under your insurance plan, and most plans cover a colonoscopy completely as a follow-up test or diagnostic tool. To find a doctor or learn about the colonoscopy and other gastroenterology and surgical services offered at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, visit SVRMC.com. And as you watch the basketball games this month, remember that the ball is in your court to take action to reduce your risk for this preventable cancer.

Board certified in general and colorectal surgery, Dr. Homayoon Akbari practices at Southern Virginia Medical Group. Dr. Akbari specializes in colon and rectal surgery, including the treatment of colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and constipation. He is an active member of the medical staff of both Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center and Southside Regional Medical Center.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces February Employee of the Month

February 2017 SVRMC Employee of the Month,

Emporia, VA – Virginia Worrell has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for February 2017. Ms. Worrell, who works in SVRMC’s Environmental Services Department, has been employed at SVRMC since June 1993.

Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for February was Communication.  Ms. Worrell’s nomination included the following statement: “Virginia has exemplary communication skills.  She always introduces herself to our patients prior to going into their room and always greets everyone she meets in the hallways with a smile.  When answering the phone, she is always polite and utilizes proper phone etiquette, you can hear Virginia’s smile through the phone.Virginia is well deserving of the Employee of the Month.”  

As SVRMC’s February Employee of the Month, Ms. Worrell received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers, a cash award, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2017 Employee of the Year.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces January 2017 Employee of the Month

Emporia, VA – Clint Paseos, RNhas been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for January 2017.  Mr. Paseos, who works in SVRMC’s Behavioral Health Unit, has been employed at SVRMC since December 2015.

Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for January was Commitment to Co-Workers.  Mr. Paseos’ nomination included the following statement: “Clint always treats his peers and co-workers with respect and courtesy. He is kind and honest in all his interactions and is willing to do whatever is best for the Behavioral Health Unit, his patients, and his co-workers. An outstanding example of his commitment was shown most recently when Clint came in to cover a shift during the snow storm, although he was not scheduled to work.  That example shows a commitment, not only to his job, but also to those he works with every day.”

As SVRMC’s January Employee of the Month, Mr. Paseos received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cake to share with his co-workers, a cash award, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2017 Employee of the Year.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) is an 80-bed, acute-care facility located at 727 N. Main Street in Emporia, VA. With a medical staff of more than 70 physicians representing over 25 specialties, SVRMC serves nearly 50,000 residents in Emporia and the surrounding communities. The medical center is conveniently located near Interstate 95, Hwy 58 and Hwy 301. For more information about SVRMC and the services it provides, please visit SVRMC.com.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces 2016 Employee and Managers of the Year

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) has named its 2016 Employee and Managers of the Year. Employees and managers are nominated for these awards by their colleagues based on their commitment to patient care, their professionalism, and their contributions on the job. The recognitions are the highest honors hospital employees can receive.

Employee of the Year

Central Scheduler Jasmine Redia Harvey has been employed at SVRMC since July of 2014. Ms. Harvey schedules patients for outpatient diagnostic testing, coordinating the scheduling with physician offices and working to ensure requests are completed in a timely manner. Her coworkers had the following to say about her: “Jasmine always wears a smile. She remains calm in all situations and appears the happiest when she is the busiest. She manages her heavy work flow with ease and is always willing to lend a helping hand.”

Clinical Manager of the Year

James Ewing, III, Director of Cardiopulmonary, Respiratory, Sleep and Laboratory Services and Facility Compliance Officer, is a long term employee at SVRMC.  He is responsible for the daily activities, including staffing and budgets, of the four aforementioned departments, as well as ensuring that the entire facility and all staff adhere to corporate compliance requirements. Mr. Ewing’s coworkers had the following to say about him: “Jay is respected by all of his peers for the multiple jobs he performs in this facility. He is an asset to the facility as well as to other leaders. He is always willing to lend a helping hand and provide guidance whenever needed. He is a wonderful advocate for our hospital and is very involved with community service. He represents our facility in a very positive way.”

Non-Clinical Manager of the Year

Rebecca T. Parrish, Director of Human Resources, has been employed at SVRMC since 2004. She is responsible for planning, coordinating, implementing and administering all human resource policies and practices. Ms. Parrish’s coworkers had the following to say about her: “Becky always goes above and beyond in her duties for this facility, spending many hours planning and participating in events. As a manager, I depend on Becky’s expertise, and she has always gone out of her way to help me with whatever I needed. She always has the answers, and the insight she provides helps me to do my job better.”

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces July, August and September Employees of the Month

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) is pleased to announce the July, August and September 2016 Employees of the Month: Cody Jones, RRT, Alberto Babaran, RPST, and Brinkley Allen. These employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior. As Employees of the Month, they each received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with co-workers and a cash prize.

July

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Safety Awareness, July’s Employee of the Month, Cody Jones, RRT, works in SVRMC’s Respiratory Therapy Department. Ms. Jones’ nomination included the following statement:

“Cody provides excellent patient care, always keeping the safety of her patients and co-workers in mind. She ensures that orders are always verified before providing care and verifies and double checks medications prior to administration. Cody is an extremely reliable registered respiratory therapist and always has a great attitude and a smile.”

August

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Service Recovery, August’s Employee of the Month, Alberto Babaran, RPST, works in SVRMC’s Sleep Disorders Center. Mr. Babaran’s nomination included the following statement: “Alberto is an extremely professional and caring individual who consistently receives excellent customer service comments from his patients. So many times following their first study, patients request Alberto for their second study because he is so reassuring and has created a comfort level with them. Alberto is very deserving of the Employee of the Month recognition and is a very important member of our team.”

September

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Sense of Ownership, September’s Employee of the Month, Brinkley Allen, works in SVRMC’s Behavioral Health Department. Ms. Allen’s nomination included the following statement: “Brinkley is a true asset to both our unit and to SVRMC. She is a dedicated employee who takes pride in her work and in helping others. She always comes to work with a positive attitude. No matter how busy or hectic we may be, Brinkley’s quiet disposition and calm demeanor help to settle our unit. Brinkley ensures that her responsibility to her patients, co-workers and our physicians is always a priority.”

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s Sleep Disorders Center Earns Reaccreditation

EMPORIA, VA(October 10, 2016)– Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s Sleep Disorders Center recently received program reaccreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine congratulates the sleep center at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center on meeting the high standards required for receiving reaccreditation as a sleep disorders center,” said Dr. Ronald D. Chervin, AASM president. “SVRMC’s Sleep Disorders Center is an important resource to the local medical community and will provide academic and scientific value in addition to the highest quality care for patients suffering from sleep disorders.”               

To receive accreditation for a five-year period, a sleep center must meet or exceed all standards for professional health care as designated by the AASM. These standards address core areas such as personnel, facility and equipment, policies and procedures, data acquisition, patient care, and quality assurance. Additionally, the sleep center’s goals must be clearly stated and include plans for positively affecting the quality of medical care in the community it serves. 

“Our sleep center team is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with sleep disorders” explains Rakesh Sood, MD, Medical Director of SVRMC’s Sleep Disorders Center. “I am proud that we have once again been recognized by the AASM for providing high-quality care.”

More than 80 types of sleep disorders exist, including sleep apnea, insomnia and restless legs syndrome, all of which can significantly impact an individual’s overall health. SVRMC’s Sleep Disorders Center performs sleep studies on both children (age 12+) and adults in a comfortable, home-like environment. Call 434.348.4422 or visit SVRMC.com for more information.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center to Host Blood Drive

Emporia, VA – According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. This adds up to about 36,000 units of red blood cells that are needed to meet the daily demand. 

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center will host an American Red Cross Blood Drive on Friday, September 23rd from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM in the SVRMC Classrooms, 727 N. Main Street, Emporia. Whether veteran or first-time donor, the process is quick (usually about 1 hour 15 minutes from start to finish) and easy, and each donation could save up to three lives. Donors are required to provide either a driver’s license or two other forms of identification, be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Becky Parrish at 434-348-4485 or visit redcrossblood.org.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces May and June Employees of the Month

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) is pleased to announce the May and June 2016 Employees of the Month: Ricky Mitchell and Beth Kidd. These employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior. As Employees of the Month, they each received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with co-workers and a cash prize.

May

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Privacy, May’s Employee of the Month, Ricky Mitchell, works in SVRMC’s Accounting Department. Mr. Mitchell’s nomination included the following statement: “Ricky is in a position that requires strict confidentiality in all aspects and he is very good at practicing confidentiality/privacy each and every day. His day-to-day tasks require strict attention to detail while maintaining a level of confidentiality regarding contracts as well as the privacy of our patients and staff in accounting matters. Ricky always ensures that documents are placed in folders and envelopes during transport and are never left unattended. He always operates on a “need to know” basis.”

June

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Responsiveness, June’s Employee of the Month, Beth Kidd, works as a phlebotomist in SVRMC’s Laboratory. Ms. Kidd’s nomination included the following statement: “Beth is one of the best examples that we have of responsiveness. She always goes above and beyond to ensure that patients are comfortable and have what they need or want while they are here. If Beth has a request from a patient that she can’t accommodate or isn’t sure of patient restrictions, she does an excellent job in relaying those requests to the nursing staff in order to be responsive to their needs. She is not only responsive to our patients but also to her co-workers. She is willing to jump in and lend a helping hand whenever possible.”

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces February, March and April Employees of the Month

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) is pleased to announce the February, March and April 2016 Employees of the Month: Lynn Jones, RN, Wendy Keener, RN, and Krystal Murrell, RN. These employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior. As Employees of the Month, they each received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with co-workers and a cash prize.

February

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Communication, February’s Employee of the Month, Lynn Jones, RN, works in SVRMC’s Emergency Department. Ms. Jones’ nomination included the following statement: “Lynn is the poster child for customer service. She rounds on patients in the ED and in the waiting room with a smile and an open heart. She keeps the communication lines open to alleviate the burden of the unknown for the patients and families.”

March

Nominated for demonstrating excellence in Customer Waiting, March’s Employee of the Month, Wendy Keener, RN, works in SVRMC’s Oncology Services Department. Ms. Keener’s nomination included the following statement: “Wendy realizes that our patients’ time is very valuable.  She also understands that most of our patients have caregivers bringing them to their appointments with us, and Wendy knows that it is crucial to keep them informed of the patient’s care and timeline with procedures. She is flexible with appointment times when possible and very accommodating to all.”  

April

Nominated as an All-Star, April’s Employee of the Month, Krystal Murrell, RN, works in SVRMC’s Intensive Care Unit. Ms. Murrell’s nomination included the following statement:  “Krystal conducts herself in a professional manner at all times. No matter how overwhelmed she may be, you will never know it because she remains calm. Krystal continually displays a positive, caring attitude. She provides great care for her patients and is very supportive to her co-workers. Krystal loves what she does, and it shows in the quality of care she provides.”

Strokes Among Young Adults on Dramatic Rise

EMPORIA, VA(May 23, 2016)– While recent years have seen an overall decline in the number of strokes in the U.S., research published in the American Academy of Neurology Journal suggests the number of strokes among younger adults is actually on the rise, with about one in five victims now below the age of 55.

“Since the mid-1990’s, the number of strokes in younger adults has increased by approximately 53 percent,” said Dr. Saqib Shah, Medical Director of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department. “This trend is alarming in the impact it has on young families, when a parent who suffers a stroke is often physically and economically disabled before or during their most productive years.”

Experts attribute several factors to the increased incidence of stroke in young adults, with the greatest focus around the issue of obesity. A study of more than 2,300 people in the Baltimore area indicated that obese young adults were 57 percent more likely to experience a stroke than their non-obese peers. Much of that increased risk might be connected to the co-conditions often tied to obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

“Even though more than a half million young adults suffer annually from a stroke, 73% of those interviewed indicated they would NOT seek treatment at a hospital when faced with the classic symptoms,” said Dr. Shah. “Nearly three in four stated they would opt to ‘wait and see’ if their weakness, numbness or impaired vision symptoms went away on their own. This is a lack of awareness that can lead to devastating results.”

Medical experts agree that medical treatment must be delivered for a stroke within three hours of the first symptom. This is the window during which treatment can minimize or even reverse brain damage. A lack of awareness results in patients that don’t seek immediate treatment. But to date, only limited public health and research efforts have been dedicated to addressing stroke in young adults.

The authors of one study suggest people should memorize the acronym “FAST”, which stands for:  Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty; Time to Call 911.

Many, though not all, strokes are preventable through simple but critical lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight, ensuring a daily dose of physical activity, controlling blood pressure, controlling blood sugar if you are diabetic and refraining from smoking are considered the most effective means of avoiding the devastation of a stroke. 

The skilled staff of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s rehabilitation department provides inpatient and outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy to stroke patients, all designed to help them regain their independence and get back to work, play and their lives. Call (434)348-4871 to learn more about these services.

For more information about stroke symptoms or to find a physician who can help you craft a prevention plan, visit SVRMC.com.

Celebrating National Hospital Week

Submitted by Matt Tavenner, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center CEO

Hospitals are more than a place where people go to heal, or to receive treatment when sick or injured. Hospitals are often at the very heart of their communities, contributing to the physical, emotional and financial health. During National Hospital Week, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) celebrates the hundreds of associates who work together 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure quality medical care is available to every person in southern Virginia.

National Hospital Week was established in 1953, and this year it will be celebrated from May 8 through May 14. The dates overlap the celebration of National Nurses Week (May 6 through 12 this year), and were chosen to coincide with Florence Nightingale’s birthday, honoring her role in revolutionizing hospital care in the mid 1800’s. This year’s National Hospital Week theme is ‘Healthcare from the Heart’, an appropriate tribute to the 5.6 million physicians, nurses, therapists, food service workers, volunteers and many more who care for their neighbors with competence, dedication and compassion.

SVRMC is proud to serve southern Virginia with high-quality clinical services that continue to expand, year after year. In 2015, our hospital touched over 30,000 lives through inpatient and outpatient care and treated more than 14,000 patients in our ER. We spent much of 2015 working toward Chest Pain Center accreditation and were excited to recently share that we were awarded this national recognition in January from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care.

In addition to celebrating the millions of workers dedicated to patient care in the U.S., National Hospital Week also serves as a reminder that hospitals truly matter in our society and are worth fiercely protecting. Hospitals are indeed at the heart of healthy and vibrant communities.

This year, SVRMC is proud to acknowledge and celebrate our associates and other healthcare providers, who tirelessly serve the community and personify the 2016 ‘Healthcare from the Heart’ theme.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Receives Chest Pain Center Accreditation

EMPORIA, VA(May 2, 2016)– Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC)recently received full Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC).  The accreditation is valid until January 27, 2019. 

“This Chest Pain Center accreditation is a tribute to the hard work of and collaboration between our emergency and cardiac teams,” explains Matt Tavenner, SVRMC’s Chief Executive Officer. “From the moment we receive notice from EMS providers that a patient with chest pain is heading our way, a group of dedicated physicians, nurses, technologists and others work together to provide seamless, quality care to our patients.”

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 600,000 people dying annually of heart disease. More than five million Americans visit hospitals each year with chest pain. SCPC’s goal is to significantly reduce the mortality rate of these patients by teaching the public to recognize and react to the early symptoms of a possible heart attack, reduce the time that it takes to receive treatment, and increase the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment.

An Accredited Chest Pain Center’s (CPC) evidence-based, protocol-driven and systematic approach to cardiac patient care allows clinicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack. Accredited facilities better monitor patients when it is not initially clear whether or not a patient is having a coronary event. Such monitoring ensures patients are neither sent home too early nor needlessly admitted.

SCPC’s CPC Accreditation process came about as greater numbers of facilities in the United States sought to establish standards and adopt best practices in the quality of care provided to patients experiencing chest pain. SCPC’s CPC Accreditation process ensures that hospitals meet or exceed an array of stringent criteria and undergo a comprehensive onsite review by a team of accreditation review specialists. Hospitals that receive SCPC CPC Accreditation status have achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who present with symptoms of a heart attack. They emphasize the importance of standardized diagnostic and treatment programs that provide more efficient and effective evaluation as well as more appropriate and rapid treatment of patients with chest pain and other heart attack symptoms. They also serve as a point of entry into the healthcare system to evaluate and treat other medical problems, and they help to promote a healthier lifestyle in an attempt to reduce the risk factors for heart attack.

By achieving SCPC’s Chest Pain Center Accreditation status, SVRMC demonstrates expertise in the following areas:

  • Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
  • Effectively treating patients at low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms
  • Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures
  • Ensuring the competence and training of Accredited Chest Pain Center personnel
  • Maintaining organizational structure and commitment
  • Constructing a functional design that promotes optimal patient care

Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack

In addition to an array of diagnostic cardiovascular services, such as holter monitoring, nuclear stress testing, carotid duplex scanning and more, SVRMC offers a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation program for patients with heart disease or who have suffered from a heart attack or other cardiac event.  For more information on SVRMC’s emergency and cardiovascular services, visit SVRMC.com.

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A Day to Honor Our Doctors

Submitted by Matt Tavenner, CEO, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center

Health care is always changing, brought on by scientific breakthroughs, technological advancements, government regulation and reform. But there is one constant: physicians still shoulder the ultimate responsibility for a patient’s care whether it be in the emergency room, on the operating table or in a clinic. From the days of Hippocrates, doctors held the fate of their fellow human beings in their hands – and certainly in their hearts.

It’s why we pause on Doctors’ Day each year to thank the men and women who made the decision to travel down that long road to becoming a physician. We at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) are grateful for the 80+ physicians who work in our hospital and clinics.  

We celebrate and honor their commitment to their field, their patients and their community. Be it a primary care doctor fresh out of residency, or a veteran surgeon who continues to hone skills by adopting the latest technology, we thank you.

It is so easy to marvel at the almost miraculous life-saving tools that medicine employs. And just as easy to become frustrated with medicine when chronic disease, terminal illness and horrific accidents win the battle over the doctor’s most drastic life-saving measures.

It is too easy to forget that the physician – the healer, the comforter, the saver of lives – is a human. The same doctor who was triumphant in making a diagnosis in a perplexing case has to deliver the grim prognosis to the patient and his family.

The pediatrician who is treating a severely injured or ill child has to go home to tuck in her own little ones.

The longtime family doctor who has watched a patient evolve from a vibrant and active lifestyle to an aging, weakened state may be facing the same dilemma with his own elderly parent.

On March 30 we take time to thank our doctors – newcomer and veteran, primary care and specialist -- for their unwavering care to the thousands of lives we at SVRMC touch each year.

We acknowledge their lives outside the hospital though we realize that their chosen career path often makes it difficult to separate the two worlds. We appreciate the surgeon who ventures out in the middle of the night to perform a life-saving procedure. We thank the emergency room physicians and hospitalists for the personal sacrifices they make by staffing our facilities on weekends and holidays. We are grateful to those doctors who answer emergency calls from our hospital staff and patients while out for dinner with their spouses or during a child’s birthday party.

The physicians who serve our hospital and clinics all have their own stories to tell, tales of heroic measures inside our walls and in their community. They are all part of the SVRMC family of physicians who work with us and the other members of our health care team of professionals to provide our region with outstanding medical care.

We are fortunate to have these men and women. Today we acknowledge their contributions, sacrifices, skills and unwavering concern for our community.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces January Employee of the Month

Emporia, VA – Jasmine Harveyhas been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for January 2016. Ms. Harvey works in SVRMC’s Registration Department.

Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for January was commitment to coworkers.  Ms. Harvey’s nomination included the following statement: “Jasmine is a team player who is always willing to help the ED staff in any way possible. She is very supportive to all of the staff and committed to ensuring that everyone has what they need to get the job done. Not only is Jasmine committed to her co-workers, she is also committed to our patients. She is a great patient advocate and works with the ED staff to ensure patient satisfaction. She is a wonderful window to our front door.”

As SVRMC’s January Employee of the Month, Ms. Harvey received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers, and a cash prize.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center to Host American Red Cross Blood Drive Today

Emporia, VA – According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. This adds up to about 41,000 units of blood that are needed to meet the daily demand.  Blood products are currently being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations are coming in, leaving an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to meet the needs of patients requiring this lifesaving gift.

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) will host a Red Cross Blood Drive on Monday, January 18th from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM in the SVRMC Classrooms. Whether veteran or first-time donor, the process is quick (usually about 1 hour 15 minutes from start to finish) and easy, and each donation could save up to three lives. Donors are required to provide either a driver’s license or two other forms of identification, be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate. 

To schedule an appointment, contact the Red Cross at redcrossblood.org or 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Employee Travels to Haiti as a Missionary with Vessels of Mercy International

Stacy Eubanks with a Young Haitian Patient

Emporia, VA – Stacy Eubanks, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC), recently traveled to Haiti as a Missionary with Vessels of Mercy International. Vessels of Mercy International is a nonprofit relief and development organization committed to alleviating human suffering and poverty by carrying God’s love and hope to a world in need.

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, Ms. Eubanks diagnoses and treats speech, language, voice, and swallowing disorders in children and adults in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Along with being a missionary with Vessels of Mercy International, she is also a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God.

Stacy Eubanks Performs a Swallow Evaluation

Ms. Eubanks, along with a team of 5 other volunteers, traveled to Haiti in November 2015 to hold daily clinics in areas where there is little to no access to medical care. During their 8-day visit, the team treated approximately 500 infants, children, and adults who needed care for a variety medical problems, including parasites, malnutrition, dehydration, skin rashes, and malaria. Ms. Eubanks was able to use her speech-language pathology skills during the medical clinics to diagnose swallowing disorders and provide education to patients and caregivers to improve swallow safety and quality of life.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere and is still in the process of recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010, which killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions displaced. Vessels of Mercy International has been in Haiti since before the earthquake and continues to partner with a local organization to help bring relief to those who are suffering with treatable illnesses and to care for orphans.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces 2015 Employees of the Year

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) has named its 2015 Managers and Employee of the Year. Employees and managers are nominated for these awards by their colleagues based on their commitment to patient care, their professionalism, and their contributions on the job. The recognitions are the highest honors hospital employees can receive.

Clinical Manager of the Year

Kandy Poarch, RN, BSN, Director of Emergency Services, has been employed at SVRMC since 1998. She is responsible for the delivery of patient care that promotes the safety and well-being of all patients in the Emergency Department on a twenty-four hour basis. Ms. Poarch’s coworkers had the following to say about her: “Kandy is one of the best bosses I have ever had. She is fair, compassionate, and always available. Kandy is the hub of the ED; she keeps it working as a team.”

Non-Clinical Manager of the Year

Ronnie Franklin, Director of Security, has been employed at SVRMC since 2009. He is responsible for the safety of patients, employees, visitors, and all persons within the hospital facility or on the hospital premises. Mr. Franklin’s coworkers had the following to say about him: “Ronnie exemplifies great management skills with his employees. His actions always contribute to the overall good of the patients, staff and hospital. Ronnie’s positive attitude makes being employed at SVRMC a joy.”

Employee of the Year

Helen Wilson, RN, Clinical Coordinator of Outpatient Surgery, has been employed at SVRMC since 1978. Ms. Wilson provides care to patients undergoing both surgery and minor outpatient procedures. Her coworkers had the following to say about her: “Once you meet Helen you will never forget her. Her smile lights up a room. I know I can depend on Helen in times of need.”

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces November Employee of the Month

Emporia, VA – Alvin Jackson (AJ)has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for November 2015. Mr. Jackson, who works in SVRMC’s Nutritional Services Department, has been employed at SVRMC since March 2004.

Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for November was Attitude.  Mr. Jackson’s nomination included the following statement: “AJ is everything that an employee should be. He is reliable, truthful, helpful, polite and funny. He never misses a day of work and often fills in for staff members who have called out. AJ has a great attitude and is welcoming to everyone he encounters. He is friendly and always takes the time to ensure customer expectations are met in the Nutritional Services Department.”

As SVRMC’s November Employee of the Month, Mr. Jackson received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cake to share with his co-workers, a cash prize, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2016 Employee of the Year.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Employees Donate 1,542.9 Pounds of Food

Emporia, VA – Each year the staff at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) host a Thanksgiving food drive and compete by department to see who can donate the most food. This year the staff donated 1,542.9 pounds of food to Emporia’s Family Violence & Sexual Assault Unit.

The winner of the competition is the department that donates the most food in pounds per employee.

The 2015 winner was the Behavioral Health Unit who donated 556.9 total pounds of food or 34.08 pounds per employee. They will receive a pizza party for their efforts.

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SVRMC Hosts Cookies and Cocoa with Santa

On Friday, after the Jaycees Christmas Parade, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center hosted Cookies and Cocoa with Santa.  Kids, young and old, waited for the arrival of the Jolly Old Elf and enjoyed sharing their Christmas Wish List with him.

Santa's Elves were busy, so the great staff at SVRMC stepped up to serve the Cookies, Punch, Lemonade and Cocoa!

If you missed Santa Claus, he will be in Emporia one more time before his Christmas Eve Trip around the world.  You can see him at Arby's of Emporia on Sunday, December 20, from 3-5 pm.

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Why Health Insurance is Important

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center will again help with enrollment

As part of the Affordable Care Act, most U.S. citizens were required to have health insurance beginning in 2014. In 2016, there is a higher penalty than last year if you’re not excluded for a particular reason. Wondering why health insurance is so important, we sat down with Matt Tavenner, CEO of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center to find out.

What is health insurance?

TAVENNER: Health insurance is a contract between you and an insurance company. When you buy a plan or policy, you pay a monthly fee and in return, the company agrees to pay part of your medical expenses when you get sick or hurt.

Why is it important to have health insurance?

TAVENNER: While no one plans to get sick or hurt, most people need medical care at some point. The average cost of a three-day hospital stay is $30,000 – and the cost to fix a broken leg can cost up to $7,500! Having health insurance helps protect you from unexpected costs like these. Your insurance policy will outline what types of care, treatments and services are covered, including how much the insurance company will pay for different treatments in different situations.

Is having health insurance mandatory?

TAVENNER: Yes, with few exceptions, most U.S. citizens are required to have health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010. Those who do not have minimum essential health coverage – like through an employer – and don’t qualify for an exemption, will have to pay a penalty fee if they don’t get health insurance.

What is that penalty?

TAVENNERIf you can afford health insurance coverage in 2016, but don’t sign up, you may have to pay a penalty ($695 per adult, $347.50 per child – up to $2,085/family or 2.5% of family income, whichever is higher). And without insurance, you’ll be financially responsible for all of your medical costs.

You are considered covered if you have Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, any job-based plan, any plan you’ve purchased yourself, COBRA, retiree coverage, Tricare, VA health coverage.

Who is exempt from having to get health insurance?

TAVENNERThe list is long, but here are a few reasons why a person might be exempt:

•       Coverage is unaffordable coverage (more than 8% of household income)

•       You are a member of federally recognized tribe

•       You are below tax filing threshold and not required to file taxes

•       You have been uninsured for less than three consecutive months during the year

When can a person purchase health insurance?

TAVENNERFor the Health Insurance Marketplace, enrollment periods are only for a specified time during the year. The current enrollment period runs from November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016. You can only purchase insurance outside of that time period if you have a qualifying life event, such as a marriage, divorce, new baby, and change of income, to name a few.

How much does health insurance cost?

TAVENNEREach plan varies in terms of overall cost and depends on the amount of premium and deductible you choose. The “premium” is the amount of money charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage each year. You may also have an annual “deductible.” You must pay this amount out of your pocket before the insurance company will pay any expenses. Let's say you have a $200 deductible. You go to the doctor and the total cost is $250. You pay the first $200 to cover the deductible, and then your insurance starts to pay its share. How much you pay for your premium and deductible depends on the type of insurance you have.

Every plan has to pay 60% of your medical bills. But from there, you can decide, do you want to pay a higher premium and get more of your benefits paid - or do you want to pay a lower premium and run the risk that, if you get sick, you'll have to pay more out of your own pocket?

So, a higher premium offers more coverage. A lower premium provides less coverage if you get sick. So if you think you are going to stay healthy, then you might want to pay a lower premium that would cover a smaller percentage of your bills.

What types of plans are there?

TAVENNER: There are four levels of health plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace: platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. Each category has a different monthly premium costs, as well as deductible. There are a lot of affordable options on the Marketplace and you can compare each plan side by side so you can find the plan that meets you and/or your family’s needs.

Is there any help available if you can’t afford health insurance?

TAVENNER: Through government subsidies, financial assistance to help with premium costs may be available, depending on household size and annual income: Individual consumers between $11,770 to $47,080/year (household of one); $24,250 to $97,000/year for a household of four; $40,890 to $163,560/year for a household of eight.

What if you have a preexisting condition like a previous cancer, a diabetes diagnosis or are pregnant?

TAVENNER: You cannot be excluded from coverage for any preexisting condition. And, equally important, parents can cover their children up to age 26 on their insurance plan.

What do I need to do if I enrolled last year and have coverage?

TAVENNER: Consumers enrolled in a 2015 Marketplace plan will have an automatic enrollment option to select the same health plan coverage as long as the same plan is offered in 2016.

All consumers are encouraged to return to the Marketplace to make any necessary updates, as well as review all eligible health plans to make sure they have chosen coverage that best suits their needs. The Marketplace enrollment tools spell out the steps consumers need to take to either auto-enroll in the same health plan, or to shop for other choices.

What else does health insurance cover?

TAVENNER: In addition to pre-existing conditions, all qualified health plans must offer:

•       Ambulatory patient services

•       Hospitalization and emergency services

•       Maternity and newborn care

•       Mental Health and substance use disorder

•       Prescription drugs

•       Lab services

•       Free preventative and wellness services

•       Chronic disease management

•       Pediatric services, including dental and vision care

Of course, you have to meet your deductible before insurance pays.

I’ve also heard that qualified health plans cover preventive care services at no charge.

TAVENNER: Yes, Marketplace plans cover many preventive care screenings, tests and services such as vaccinations that can help adults and children stay healthy. And the best news is, they’re free – no copays or deductibles. Depending on your age, gender and other risk factors, your doctor may tell you it’s time for a mammogram, colonoscopy or other screening that can detect cancer or disease in its earliest, most treatable stages. Or, it may be time to screen for high blood pressure or high cholesterol to give your doctor information that can help prevent a stroke or heart attack.

In total, there are 18 covered preventive services for adults, 22 covered preventive services for women, including pregnant women, and 26 covered preventive services for children.

Besides health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace, what other types of health insurance are available?

TAVENNER: Many families with limited income qualify for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and they can enroll any time of the year. Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. In some states, the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level. CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children in families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. In some states, CHIP covers parents and pregnant women.

How can local, uninsured residents find help with enrollment?

TAVENNER: As a service to our community Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center can help uninsured residents review coverage options on the Health Insurance Marketplace, or determine eligibility for Medicaid. We can also assist with re-enrollment or with special enrollment if someone has had a life change, such as a marriage, divorce, job loss, etc.

All they need to do is schedule an appointment with one of our application coordinators by calling (434) 348-4406.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces October Employee of the Month

Emporia, VA – Ellen Weirich has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for October 2015.  Ms. Weirich is employed at SVRMC as an Environmental Services Aide.

Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; October, deemed “All Star Month,” highlighted several Standards of Behavior: Attitude, Sense of Ownership and Responsiveness.  Ms. Weirich’s nomination included the following statements: “Ellen has a quiet confidence about her and is very effective and efficient in doing her job.  She never complains, even when she is very busy and works hard to keep SVRMC neat and tidy.  Ellen always places herself second to the needs of others. She has a positive ‘can-do’ spirit that makes her a great role model.  The phrase ‘hard worker’ does not even begin to describe Ellen; she is an excellent, compassionate employee that is most deserving of this award.”

As SVRMC’s October Employee of the Month, Ellen received a certificate of recognition, balloons, $250.00, cookies to share with her co-workers, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Announces September Employee of the Month

Emporia, VA – Debra Rifkindhas been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for September 2015.  Ms. Rifkind, who has been employed at SVRMC since February 2013, is an Emergency Department Technician.

Each month employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior; the highlighted Standard of the Month for September was Sense of Ownership.  Ms. Rifkind’s nomination included the following statement: “Debra possesses a sense of ownership in her role as an ED Tech by “owning” her responsibilities and constantly looking for ways to improve the unit and processes for patient care.  Debra uses time wisely and takes the initiative to look for “extra” things to do around the unit. She feels a responsibility to keep the ED clean and stocked for efficiency and has excellent customer service skills.  She takes pride in her job and is committed to excellence.  Debra is dedicated to the department, her co-workers, and patients.  She owns her role at SVRMC.”

As SVRMC’s September Employee of the Month, Ms. Rifkind received a certificate of recognition, balloons, cookies to share with her co-workers, a cash prize, and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center to Host Holiday American Red Cross Blood Drive

Emporia, VA – Give the gift of blood this holiday season. According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. This adds up to about 41,000 units of blood that are needed to meet the daily demand. 

Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center will host a Red Cross Blood Drive on Friday, November 20th from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM in the SVRMC Classrooms, 727 N. Main Street, Emporia. Whether veteran or first-time donor, the process is quick (usually about 1 hour 15 minutes from start to finish) and easy, and each donation could save up to three lives. Donors are required to provide either a driver’s license or two other forms of identification, be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate. 

To schedule an appointment, contact the Red Cross at redcrossblood.org or 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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SVRMC Can Help You With Open Enrollment

Penalty fee for not having health insurance increases this year

Emporia, VA - Beginning November 1, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) will again help area residents learn about and enroll in health insurance options on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Open enrollment for health coverage:Nov. 1, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016To make an appointment for enrollment or re-enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace or Medicaid, call(434) 348-4406

As part of the Affordable Care Act, most U.S. citizens were required to have health insurance beginning in 2014. Since the passage of the ACA five years ago, about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained health coverage. Yet, approximately 30 million Americans remain uninsured.

“As a primary health provider in southern Virginia, our goal is to help educate residents in an easy-to-understand way, as well as assist those who haven’t  yet signed up for health insurance or Medicaid, if qualified,” said Matt Tavenner, CEO of SVRMC. “During the next few months, we’ll be out in the community and meeting one-on-one to help these individuals find affordable coverage.”

Health Plans on Health Insurance Marketplaces
The Health Insurance Marketplace provides U.S. citizens access to affordable health insurance coverage. Depending on household income, some individuals may qualify for government financial assistance– or subsidies – towards the cost of the premium and other financial obligations like co-pays or deductibles.

All health plans on the Marketplace must offer a comprehensive set of benefits, and coverage cannot be denied for individuals with a pre-existing health condition. Some of the health benefits include free preventive care and wellness services, doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital and emergency department care, lab services, pediatric services – and more.

The penalty fee for not having insurance has increased this year. If you can afford health insurance coverage in 2016, but don’t sign up, you may have to pay a penalty ($695 per adult, $347.50 per child – up to $2,085/family or 2.5% of family income, whichever is higher). You will have to pay the fee on the federal income tax return you file. And, without insurance, you will be financially responsible for all of your medical costs.

“This is where SVRMC can assist,” said Tavenner. “With many people not having access to a computer or having difficulty maneuvering on the government website, our application counselors can help individuals and their families evaluate the health plan options and determine if they are eligible for Medicaid or other financial assistance. We’ll also help with re-enrollment.

If you can afford health insurance coverage in 2016, but don’t sign up, you may have to pay a penalty ($695 per adult, $347.50 per child – up to $2,085/family or 2.5% of family income, whichever is higher).

Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources.

“While Virginia has not expanded Medicaid, government subsidies to help citizens obtain coverage are available, depending on income and other qualifications,” explained Tavenner. “We can help screen these individuals and if they qualify, we can enroll them at any time, with health coverage beginning immediately.”

Though a major function of www.healthcare.gov is assessing whether individuals and families qualify for financial assistance to lower the cost of health insurance, SVRMC’s application counselors can perform the same analysis and help with enrollment and re-enrollment. To make an appointment to meet with an application counselor, call 434-348-4406.

“Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve by helping residents gain access to healthcare services,” said Tavenner.

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Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Earns Excellence Through Insight Award for Overall Employee Satisfaction

Emporia, VA – Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) was recently recognized with an Excellence Through Insight award for “Overall Employee Satisfaction” in the Medium Hospital category by HealthStream, Inc.

SVRMC was awarded this honor for its commitment to excellence in employee satisfaction. To qualify for an award, a hospital must have been an employee satisfaction client of HealthStream in 2014 and scored in the 75th percentile or better. SVRMC was chosen for receiving the highest ratings in employee satisfaction from among HealthStream’s clients, as well as for exceeding industry standards.

HealthStream CEO Robert A. Frist, Jr. said “We applaud Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s high-level commitment to excellence in healthcare and are pleased to recognize their achievement through our presentation of an Excellence through Insight award.”

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SOUTHERN VIRGINIA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER ANNOUNCES JUNE EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH

(EMPORIA, VA) – Troy Watson has been named the Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC) Employee of the Month for June 2015. Mr. Watson, who has been employed at SVRMC since May 2008, is an Engineering Technician in the Engineering Department.

Employees are nominated for demonstrating excellence in one of ten Standards of Behavior highlighted during that month. The highlighted Standard of the Month for June was Responsiveness. Mr. Watson was nominated by his department manager who wrote, “There are many things Engineering is asked to do or to assist with every day, from the toilet that might not be working correctly to being asked to assist with someone’s car that will not start. Troy readily responds to any request for assistance, and always does so in a professional manner. Troy is a hard worker and is dedicated to his job and our organization. He is a go-to guy that is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. We can always count on Troy to be there when we need him; he answers all of our requests, and offers assistance without being asked to do so. Troy is known throughout the facility, and is respected by his coworkers, peers, SVRMC staff and administration.”

As SVRMC’s June Employee of the Month, Mr. Watson received a certificate, balloons, cookies to share with his co-workers in the Engineering Department, a cash prize and a chance to be selected as SVRMC’s 2015 Employee of the Year.

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Matters of the Heart

Men and women experience heart attacks differently

Emporia, VA By: Saquib Samee, MD– According to the American Heart Association: 

  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is leading cause of death in America, accounting for 1 in every 5 deaths
  • In America, someone will suffer a coronary event every 29 seconds, and one will die every minute
  • Approximately 250,000 Americans die each year of CHD without ever being hospitalized.

These statistics are daunting, and for those who have never experienced a heart attack, recognizing and identifying symptoms as heart related may not be as easy as one would think.  Hollywood would have us all believe that heart attacks begin with sudden, sharp chest pain, staggering and ultimately collapse. In reality, the signs of a heart attack are much more subtle, and may vary from person to person making it difficult for the average individual to accurately identify.

We’ve all heard about the differences between Mars and Venus when it comes to men and women, and matters of the heart. These differences hold true when it comes to heart health, as well. Knowing how to recognize the early symptoms of a possible heart attack, can help men, women and their doctors prevent it, or intervene in time to minimize the damaging effects on the heart.

Men usually experience what we know as the “classic” signs of a heart attack, which include any combination of heavy squeezing or chest pain, discomfort in areas of the upper body (arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach), stomach/abdominal pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, lightheadedness, cold sweat and/or nausea.

Women suffering a heart attack sometimes experience chest pain, but not as frequently as men, and they experience other symptoms that people don’t generally link to heart trouble like unusual/unexplained fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion, anxiety, dizziness, cold sweats, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. The onset of these symptoms often occurs much earlier in women than in men, whose symptoms typically come either rightbefore, or during a heartattack.  This is supported by research by the National Institutes of Health that indicates womensometimes experience different physical symptoms as long as a month or more before experiencing a heart attack. In a  2007 study of more than 500 women, 95 percent of participants reported experiencing new symptoms at least a month before their heart attack, including unusual fatigue, sleep disturbance and shortness of breath. Less than 30 percent of women studied experienced chest pains prior to the attack, and 43 percent had no chest pain during the attack. Other symptoms included indigestion and anxiety. The study was one of the first to examine the differences in the way men and women experience a heart attack.

Knowing the differences is important for many reasons. Women who experienced these non-traditional symptoms did not identify them as a heart attack and put off seeking medical attention, significantly decreasing their chances for preventing, or surviving, the attack. The American Heart Association estimates that about 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital.

The reason these differences are just now coming to light is that heart disease has, for decades, been considered a man’s disease, so naturally, research focused primarily on men. However, cardiovascular disease has claimed the lives of more women than men every year since 1984, thus making it clear that heart disease isn’t just a men’s disease.         

Remember that symptoms may come and go. Even if you’re not sure if it’s a heart attack, it’s important to be checked by a doctor. New medications and treatments are now available that can stop some heart attacks in progress and save lives, but these drugs must be administered at the first sign of heart attack symptoms for maximum effectiveness.

Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to educate yourself about heart health and any recommended health screenings based on your individual profile.  Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack and how to minimize its effects will help ensure that you and your loved ones maintain good heart-health for many years to come.

The information in this article was provided by Saquib Samee, MD.  Dr. Samee, an interventional cardiologist, provides in a variety of services, and practices all aspects of interventional cardiology including, echocardiogram, stress echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), carotid ultrasound, nuclear stress test, preventive cardiology, coronary artery angiogram, coronary artery intervention, intervention via radial artery, peripheral vascular studies, peripheral arterial angiogram, peripheral stent placement, and transradial catheterizations.   His practice is located at 6 Doctor’s Drive in Emporia.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Samee or to schedule an appointment, call 434-336-1900.

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CHARITY BEGINS AT SOUTHERN VIRGINIA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER’S REHABILITATION DEPARTMENT

EMPORIA, VA – In today’s world, picking up a newspaper or tuning in to any news program often seems like a fictional crime drama.  Thankfully, every once in a while a bit of heartwarming news comes along that restores the belief that there are still compassionate and loving people out there who go the extra mile to make a difference out of the goodness of their hearts.  Recently, one of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center’s (SVRMC) physical therapists (PT) did just that when she went beyond what is required or expected to help a patient get a new wheelchair. 

PT patient, Earl Hargrove, has a history of chronic strokes that dates back over 12 years.  A couple of years ago, one such event left Mr. Hargrove completely wheelchair bound.  During a recent PT appointment, his PT noticed that his personal wheelchair was in extremely poor condition.  Taking the matter into her own hands, she asked other staff in the department about wheelchair regulations, and how she might go about obtaining a new and properly working wheelchair for him.  By chance, a fellow patient, who asked to remain anonymous, had mentioned that she had a wheelchair that she no longer needed, and that she would love to donate it to anyone who may be in need.  This patient told the staff, “If that was me, I would love for someone to have done the same for me.”  In addition to the wheelchair, a customized seat cushion was also donated to Mr. Hargrove, and both items appeared to be in perfect condition!  Both Mr. Hargrove and his wife are truly grateful for the unexpected acts of kindness from staff, and the generous gift of “new wheels” from a stranger.

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Eye Health: Vision Basics & Exams

Emporia, VA, Thomas J. Robertson MD; To maintain proper eye health and vision, it is important to visit an eye doctor periodically if you have normal vision and no symptoms of a problem, and immediately if there is sudden vision loss, eye pain or irritation.  Having a complete exam with an eye doctor is important because most eye diseases can be treated when found in the early stages.  If health problems such as diabetes exist, visiting the eye doctor more frequently may be necessary to detect any complications. 

Your eye doctor will take a thorough medical and ophthalmic history, followed by an examination, which can be simple or complex, depending on your eyes, medical conditions and any current eye complaints. Visiting an eye doctor does not need to be intimidating, especially if you are aware of a few special tests that may be performed during an eye exam.

Refraction measures the eye’s refractive error, or need for glasses at both distance and near.  Doctors will ask patients to look at a chart, usually 20 feet away, through a special instrument known as a phoropter.  The doctor will ask which of the choices looks clearer, which will determine the appropriate prescription needed for glasses or contacts.  Adding magnification to the distance prescription as the patient focuses on a near card mounted on a Prince Rule constitutes the near test to determine bifocal or progressive add power.

A Slit-lamp Exam looks at the front of the eye by shining a beam of light shaped like a small slit on the eye.  This eye test can be used to help diagnose cataracts, retinal detachments, conditions of the eyelids, conditions of the cornea and other ocular surface structures, including the tear film.

Tonometry helps doctors diagnose glaucoma by measuring the amount of pressure needed to flatten a portion of the cornea, using either the Goldmann applanation tonometer or a specialized strain gauge called a Tonopen.  Both instruments are used after the cornea (clear front window of the eye) is anesthetized with special eye drops.  The Goldmann requires the use of a yellow dye called fluorescein and a blue light; the Tonopen requires only the anesthetic drop.

During Pupillary Dilation the doctor places special drops in the eye that cause the pupil to dilate, or expand.  By dilating the pupils, the doctor can examine the retina, optic nerve, and vitreous gel for signs of disease.  The doctor normally uses handheld magnifying lenses with either a slit lamp (biomicroscopy) or a head-worn indirect ophthalmoscope.  For most ophthalmic photographs, the pupils are dilated ahead of time, but with a non-mydriatic fundus camera, photos can be taken without dilation.

During Corneal Topography, a computer is used to create a “map” of the curvature of the cornea.  The computer analysis will show any distortions of the cornea such as scarring, or astigmatism.  This eye test is used to screen patients before they undergo certain eye surgeries, such as cataract extraction with toric (astigmatism-correcting) intraocular lens implantation or corneal transplants; before they’re fitted for contact lenses; and for the diagnosis of such corneal dystrophies as keratoconus.

Keratometry measures corneal curvature for cataract surgery planning and contact lens fitting.  Either Ultrasound or Partial Coherence Interferometry is used to measure eye length to aid in intraocular lens selection for cataract surgery.

Fluorescein Angiogram(FA) is used to evaluate the blood circulation in the retina.  It is useful in helping diagnose diabetic retinopathy, new blood vessel growth (neovascularization) in age-related macular degeneration and other macular disorders, and retinal detachment.  During this eye test, fluorescein dye is injected into a vein in the hand or arm and the dye quickly travels to the blood vessels.  Once the dye reaches the eye, a specialized camera equipped with distinctive filters that highlight the dye is used to photograph the fluorescein as it circulates through the blood vessels in the back of the eye, potentially leaking into extravascular spaces and highlighting macular disease, such as circulation problems, swelling, leaking or abnormal blood vessels in the eye. 

Ocular Coherence Tomographyor OCT is now nearly ubiquitous and has supplanted FA for most retinal imaging.  OCT requires no injections and gives the doctor a good look at topographic and cross-sectional retinal and optic nerve anatomy, creating images that look much like those of an MRI.

Ultrasounduses sound waves to provide a picture of the eye’s internal structure.  This exam is useful in evaluating tumors as well as the retina.  Ultrasound is often used when cloudy ocular media preclude optical visualization of the structures in the back of the eye.

While a patient may experience pressure on the eye, none of these tests are painful beyond the momentary sting of eye drops or of the IV needle insertion for FA.    Most vision health coverage plans will cover a portion or all of the expenses associated with vision care.  Most medical insurance plans cover eye examinations for medical diagnoses of the eye (like cataract or glaucoma) or for systemic diseases that can affect the eye (like diabetes). 

The information in this article was provided by Thomas Robertson, MD, who is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.  Dr. Robertson practices general medical and surgical Ophthalmology, with special interests in cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, anterior segment disease and pediatric ophthalmology.  His practice, Watson Eye Associates, is located at 400Nash medical Arts Mall, Rocky Mount, NCwitha satellite office conveniently located at 508 Belfield Drive, in Emporia, VA.  For more information on services offered by Dr. Robertson or to schedule an appointment, call (252) 443-1006 or toll free at 800-241-2015.

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