Community Health: A Conversation About Advance Medical Directives

advance medical directives

Today’s conversation on The Valley Today is part of an ongoing community health partnership with Valley Health where host, Janet Michael talks each month to physicians, administrators, nurses, etc. from Valley Health about a wide range of topics regarding healthcare. The guest today was Dr. James VanKirk, Director of Palliative Care for Valley Health, based at Winchester Medical Center about advance medical directives. You can click here to listen to the conversation.

Dr. VanKirk explained what palliative care is: a specialized, interdisciplinary approach to improving comfort and quality of life at any stage of serious illness by addressing symptoms, communications, and next steps. The two talked about National Healthcare Decision Day that happens on April 16 each year. He told us that it’s actually observed for the entire week but advance medical directives can be done at any time of year.

Dr. VanKirk talked about the different types of advance medical directives, how to start the conversation with loved ones, how to decide who you’d like to be “your person” and the steps you should take to ensure your wishes are on file somewhere like your local hospital. An advance directive is a form you can complete so that you can be in charge of your health care if you become unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself because of injury or illness. “It always seems too early until it’s too late.”

An Advance Directive includes two important parts:

  • Choosing someone to be your voice when you cannot speak for yourself. This person is commonly called a health care agent, or may also be known as a Health Care Proxy, Substitute Decision-Maker, or Medical Power of Attorney.
  • Communicating the kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want. This is called your Living Will.

For more information, visit their website:

To hear more conversations in this series, visit the podcast page:

News Maker Meghan Bowers on Humane Soc. fundraisers

The Humane Society of Warren County’s Barks and Bags fundraiser has sold out.

Many thanks to everyone for participating and the Executive Director of the Humane Society of Warren County Meghan Bowers is looking forward to seeing you at the event.

We spoke to Meghan about another fundraiser that everyone is welcome to attend May 14 in our latest news maker.

The good news is brought to you by The Town of Front Royal.

Meghan tells us of the Rough, Tough and Scruffy Event at Hazard Mill Farm in Bentonville.

Meghan tells us it is a day of Bluegrass Music and water activity for you and your pet all benefiting the Humane Society.

No tickets required for this one just $10 at the gate to have a good time at the river.

Click here for Meghan’s interview.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Day 2 for Johnny Depp on the stand in Fairfax

ABC News reports on Johnny Depp’s second day on the stand in the Fairfax County libel suit against his ex wife Amber Heard.

Depp scoffed at the notion that his quarrels with his ex-wife would ever prompt him to hit her.

He insisted on cross examination that her allegations devastated his career.

Depp said violence isn’t necessary why would you hit someone to make them agree with you he asked.

Depp addressed Heard’s accusations in detail on Wednesday.

He said Heard says he first slapped her in 2013 over a tattoo that use to read Winona Forever for when he dated Winona Ryder.

He had the tattoo altered to read Wino Forever.

Depp asked why would he take such a great offense to someone making fun of a tattoo.

Depp added that the slap never happened.

Saying that allegation never made any sense to him.

Heard has also accused Depp of becoming blackout intoxicated and assaulting her on a plane.

Depp testified he took two oxycodone pills an opiate and a drink of champagne and then locked himself in the private plane’s bathroom to avoid her badgering.

Depp testified that he had only one drink on that plane ride.

However according to evidence introduced at a previous trial he texted actor Paul Bettany telling him he drank half a bottle of whiskey “a thousand Red Bull vodkas” and two bottles of champagne before the flight.

That was in a similar court case in England that Depp lost.

Depp also discussed a violent argument in 2015 in Australia that resulted in the tip of his middle finger being cut off.

He told the court that Heard became irate when his lawyers asked her to sign a post nuptial agreement.

He said she threw two vodka bottles at him the second of which exploded where he placed his hand.

Depp testified that he lied about the injury to protect his ex-wife.

Heard’s lawyers say the laws of physics don’t support Depp’s story and they have evidence to prove it.

Depp also gave a graphic description of a final fight they had in which Heard and her friends were pretending that he was assaulting her.

Depp testified that Heard was on the phone with a friend shouting stop hitting me Johnny while he was standing nowhere near her.

Depp would later accuse Heard of leaving human fecal matter on his side of the bed they shared.

Depp says that things began to change when he felt that suddenly he was just wrong about everything in Heard’s eyes.

Violence would often ensue with a slap or a shove or a tv remote to the face or glass of wine to his face Depp testified.

He would often lock himself in a bathroom or a place where she couldn’t get to him.

Depp added that he used drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with Heard’s abuse calling her a heavy drinker as well.

Depp said at one point he stopped drinking to try to save the relationship but Heard refused to abstain.

Depp says that the article Heard wrote implicating him as an abuser led to his being fired from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

On cross examination Heard’s lawyer pointed to evidence that Disney made that decision moths before the article’s publication.

The cross examination of Depp is expected to continue today Thurs. Apr. 21.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Two buildings damaged by fire on Skyline Drive

Six Units and 21 firefighters battled high winds and below freezing temperatures Apr. 18 fighting a fire at Big Meadows on the Skyline Drive.

No injuries were reported but approximately $500,000 in damage was done to the Blackrock Lodge and a maintenance building along with several vehicles.

In addition a Page County EMS unit crashed in route according to the Page Valley News the crash remains under investigation.

Because of the terrain it took responders 22 minutes to reach the fire to find the buildings fully involved. 

Low water pressure at the scene hampered fire suppression efforts as well.

National Park Officials labeled the lodge and maintenance building historic.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

WOW event today and tomorrow 4/21-22 in Winchester

Educators, businesses and economic development partners from Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren Counties are all represented at the World of Work (WOW) event in Winchester today Apr. 21 and tomorrow Apr. 22.

The two day event is being held at the James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletics and Events Center at Shenandoah University.

Approximately 3,000 eighth grade students from around the region are offered the opportunity for hands on exploration of possible career paths at the annual event. 

The WOW event is managed by Lord Fairfax Community College soon to become Laurel Ridge Community College’s career pathways consortium.

The consortium in conjunction with Barrett Machine Inc., Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission and Frederick County and Winchester Economic Development Authorities put on the event. 

Over 70 companies and numerous volunteers assist in the event.

There are participation, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities available for next year at

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Virginia’s unemployment rate the lowest in 2 years

An email from Governor Youngkin announced the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia in 2 years.

Virginia’s unemployment rate in March dropped 0.2 percentage points to 3.0 percent.

That seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 1.5 percentage points below the rate from a year ago.

The labor force increased by 19,532 with the number of unemployed residents decreasing by almost 5,000.

Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate of 3.6 percent.

Virginia had the second lowest unemployment rate in the southeast and 15 lowest in the nation.

Governor Youngkin said we are seeing green shoots in job recovery as we hit the lowest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth in nearly two years.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Winchester parking for SABF

The City of Winchester announced road closures will begin tomorrow Apr. 22 in Winchester for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival (SABF).

Boscawen Street to Indian Alley as well as Cameron Street will close at noon Friday Apr. 22 until 7 p.m. Saturday Apr. 23 for the SABF Bloomin’ Wine Festival.

Winchester also announced that cash is no longer accepted at any of the four parking garages in Old Town.

Payment can only be made by credit or debit card.

Parking for the SABF Bloomin’ Wine Fest is $10 to be collected at the gate of any of the Autoparks in downtown.

The Autoparks will be available for a $15 fee for both the Firefighter’s and Grand Feature Parades.

However entry and exit will be restricted at the Braddock St. Autopark during the parades.

Access restrictions will also be in place for monthly tenants as well.

Information on parking is available here.

A map for easy travel during the SABF is found here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Johnny Depp takes the stand in Fairfax trial

According to ABC News Actor Johnny Depp took the stand in the ongoing defamation trail against his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Depp told the jury that he felt compelled to sue for libel out of obsession for the truth after she accused him of domestic violence.

The actor continued that his goal was the truth because it killed him that all those people he met over the years would think he was a fraud.

Depp flatly denied ever hitting Heard calling the allegations against him disturbing and heinous and not based in any species of truth.

Nothing of the kind ever happened Depp told the court.

Depp alluded to the fall in his career since Heard levied the abuse allegations against him calling the last six years trying times.

For over an hour Depp gave long stream of consciousness answers to questions about his childhood and his early movie career.

After one long answer he admitted that he forgot the original question.

Depp then admitted that he has a meandering style particularly relating to his writing style.

He mentioned his long friendship and collaborations with gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

Saying he sought to emulate a style incorporating brash language and embellishing thoughts.

Depp went on to say his style led him to write text messages that he now finds embarrassing and he apologized to the jury for the vulgar language he used in messages introduced as evidence by Heard’s lawyers.

Telling the court he was in the heat of  the moment in the heat of pain and was in a dark place.

Depp will continue his testimony today Apr. 20.

Yesterday Apr.19 Depp testified primarily about early years of his relationship with Heard saying it was too good to be true at first.

Calling the woman he married in 2015 loving, smart, kind, understanding and funny.

He said the little things started to indicate to him a rocky relationship ahead.

When he broke established routines she would become upset.

Depp went on to say that within a year and a half Heard had become another person.

He told the court that Heard’s allegations of his substance abuse has been grossly embellished and there were no moments he was out of control.

Telling the court he is not some maniac that needs to be high or loaded all the time.

Depp did admit to being addicted to pain medication which stemmed from an injury on a movie set.

Depp said he detoxed from pain medication and has experienced long periods of sobriety over the years.

Heard’s lawyers have filed a counter suit against Depp calling the abuse allegations true.

Heard’s lawyers say that Depp being booted from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise comes from his own bad behavior.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.