Community Health: A Conversation About Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung Cancer awareness

On The Valley Today this afternoon, host Janet Michael had a conversation with Dr. Shalini Reddy, Thoracic Surgeon and Medical Director of Thoracic Surgery at Valley Health’s Winchester Medical Center. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. As part of a community health partnership with Valley Health, the conversation this month focused on lung cancer screenings, the importance of having them BEFORE symptoms appear and the changes to who “qualifies.” Click here to listen to the conversation.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 236,740 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022. Lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer, accounting for more cancer deaths than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. The ACS estimates that more than 4,600 people in Virginia and West Virginia combined will die of lung cancer in 2022.

Dr. Reddy explained that in February 2022, Medicare expanded coverage for lung cancer screening for qualifying beneficiaries. Plus the screening criteria was expanded. Screening is recommended for adults without symptoms who are at high risk for developing lung cancer. Screening eligibility criteria include:

  • Adult smokers and ex-smokers age 50 and older (previously, eligibility began at age 55)
  • Current smokers with a 20-pack year history (previously 30 pack years) of tobacco smoking
  • Former smokers who have quit within the past 15 years

Low dose CT screenings are available at all six Valley Health hospitals. It is one of the easiest screening exams to have, and it takes less than 10 minutes to perform. If criteria for a low dose lung CT screening are met, Medicare and most insurance plans will pay for yearly screenings. Financial assistance may be available for individuals who meet screening criteria but do not have insurance to cover this screening. For more information about lung cancer awareness screenings: valleyhealthlink.com/our-services/imaging/low-dose-lung-ct/

The discussion included information about Valley Health’s Lung Cancer Program. In 2019, Winchester Medical Center was the first hospital in VA to be designated a Care Continuum Center of Excellence for lung cancer care by the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. Valley Health has one of the most comprehensive pulmonary/thoracic programs in the region for the diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of lung cancer. The program’s multidisciplinary team includes specialists in thoracic surgery, radiology, interventional radiology, pathology, pulmonology, interventional pulmonology, medical oncology, radiation oncology and thoracic patient navigation.

Lung Cancer Screening – Valley Health hopes to find lung cancer at its earliest, more treatable stage and work towards eliminating late-stage lung cancer. Low dose CT lung screening is available at all Valley Health hospitals for adults with a history of smoking who are at high risk of lung cancer. The screening program also includes patients who have an incidental lung nodule found during routine or emergency imaging.

Valley Health’s multidisciplinary Lung Nodule Clinic specializes in expediting care for patients with lung nodules or lesions and provides assessment and options for further testing and follow-up. The clinic’s team of pulmonary and thoracic specialists also includes specialists in diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, radiation oncology and medical oncology.

Advanced Diagnosis – WMC interventional pulmonary specialists use robot-assisted technology combined with endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) for diagnosis and staging in one procedure. This technology is also used to accurately mark lung lesions for more targeted radiation therapy as well as surgery. In 2019, WMC was the first facility in the broader region to acquire Intuitive Surgical’s ION™ Endoluminal System to perform robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. The ION system enables minimally invasive biopsy in difficult-to-reach peripheral areas of the lung. The Valley Health team has completed more than 250 ION cases.

Minimally Invasive Surgery – The hospital’s thoracic surgeons are experienced in minimally invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and robot-assisted techniques using the da Vinci® XI™ Surgical System. Coupled with remarkable improvements in post-operative pain management and enhanced recovery protocols, these techniques help patients feel better and return home sooner. Dr. Reddy and the Valley Health team have completed 685 robot-assisted thoracic procedures since the surgical robotics program started at WMC six years ago.

Cancer Treatment and Support – Patients who receive treatment for lung cancer at the Valley Health Cancer Center at WMC will have the personal support of a thoracic patient navigator and access to treatment options such as advanced chemotherapy, radiation therapy and interventional radiology if indicated.

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking, and Valley Health provides resources to help. For information: www.valleyhealthlink.com/quitsmoking

Camping for Hunger: A Conversation About Community Health

community health needs assessments valley health

Today’s conversation on The Valley Today with host, Janet Michael about Valley Health’s Community Health Needs Assessments was pretty eye-opening and insightful. It is part of a community health partnership with Valley Health where Janet talks each month with administrators, physicians, and other Valley Health staff about health topics, events, and the community. Click here to listen to the conversation.

Joining Janet today was Jason Craig, Director of Community Health for Valley Health. He highlighted his professional journey which includes direct experience in social service, education, behavioral health, and healthcare.

They discussed the value of Community Health Needs Assessments to identify and address all the needs surrounding community health. Every three years Valley Health conducts Community Health Needs Assessments for each of their hospitals, identifying priority health needs in the communities they serve. They work with health departments, United Way and other nonprofit agencies, local government officials and other key community stakeholders to learn where gaps in services exist and to identify priorities for action. Each hospital then develops implementation strategies for addressing the identified needs. The draft is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks at which time it will be made public. The results from previous CHNAs can be found by clicking here.

Jason gave examples of the many partnerships they’ve formed with nonprofits, Shenandoah University and other organizations across our communities. He talked of programs focused on workforce development, mental health, substance use, homelessness, and food insecurity. He highlighted a recent $1 million grant awarded to Page Memorial Hospital from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program to remediate the impact of COVID-19 and improve health and access to care in Page County.

The pair also spent some time discussing all the social determinants that play a major role in community health. He spoke of a University of Wisconsin study that highlighted social determinants such as access to healthcare, health behaviors (tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use); physical environment (access to healthy foods, quality of housing, crime and violence); and socioeconomic (education, job status, social support, family support, income, community safety.) He explained that those social determinants can be broken down into five major areas: neighborhood and build environment, health and healthcare, social and community context, education and economic stability.

VH/PMH receives $1 million to help with health care

Valley Health (VH) announced that Page Memorial Hospital (PMH) will receive $1 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program.

The funds are to remediate the impact of COVID-19 and Improve health and access to care in Page County.

Rooted in Rural Healthcare is a three year multi faceted initiative led by VH, PMH, Page County Public Schools, Page Alliance for Community Action and Page County.

The funding hopes to especially help older and low income households with both transportation and technological struggles.

Broadband upgrades will help with telehealth for outreach and monitoring.

The hope is through community gardens working with the PMH nutritional staff will provide access to nutritious foods and better health outcomes as well.

These and other advantages toward better health care will be funded by the grant money.

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

VSP investigates fatal crash in Page County

page county election coverage

Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal crash in Page County that occurred Wednesday afternoon.

A 2005 Ford F-150 attempted to turn on to US Highway 340 when it collided with a 2014 Mack Truck.

James Mann, 75, of Rileyville, was the driver of the Ford and died from his injuries after being transported to Page Memorial Hospital.

The driver of the Mack truck, an unidentified 54 year old male from Shenandoah County, was not injured.

Both drivers were wearing seat belts.

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

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: https://www.valleyhealthlink.com/patients-visitors/for-patients/advance-care-planning/

To hear more conversations in this series, visit the podcast page: https://theriver953.com/communityhealth/

Community Health: Advance Medical Directives

advance medical directives

We were on the screen today for a conversation with Dr. James VanKirk, Director of Palliative Care for Valley Health, based at Winchester Medical Center about advance medical directives. This is part of an ongoing community health partnership with Valley Health where I talk every month to physicians, administrators, nurses, etc. from Valley Health about a wide range of topics regarding healthcare. Have a listen to the show by clicking here.

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. We 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: https://www.valleyhealthlink.com/patients-visitors/for-patients/advance-care-planning/

To hear more conversations in this series, visit the podcast page: https://theriver953.com/communityhealth/

Valley Health offers Direct Access to Physical Therapy

direct access to physical therapy

Today’s conversation on The Valley Today is part of our community health partnership with Valley Health. Every month, we chat with physicians, nurses, administrators, and others within the Valley Health system to talk about topics involving the health & wellness of our community. Click here to have a listen.

Today, we talked with Mary Presley, Director of Rehab Services at Warren Memorial Hospital. Mary has been a frequent guest on the show. Joining Mary, was Marsha Cooper, a physical therapist based at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.

The pair explained a fairly new program offered at all the Valley Health facilities: Direct Access to physical therapy services. This program bypasses the usual primary care/urgent care visit and allows patients to go directly to one of their physical therapists for sprained ankles, aching backs, vertigo, the list goes on as Marsha explained.

Valley Health direct-access physical therapists have a doctorate degree in physical therapy and significant training in evaluation and diagnosis. These experts use various techniques depending on the patient’s individual needs. They also use an evidence-based tool called FOTO (Focus on Therapeutic Outcomes), which generates real-time data to measure how well the treatment is working. Physical therapists specialize in areas such as orthopedics, sports medicine, pediatrics, wound care, pelvic health, and balance disturbances; they can also help with neurologic issues and frequently work with individuals recovering from stroke.

Mary explained how direct access is often less expensive for patients – along with being more convenient because it reduces the cost of other copays and prior doctor visits before landing at physical therapy. The clinic will contact a patient’s insurance company to obtain authorization, just like when a patient visits their doctor, and verify the copayment determined by the patient’s health plan. Medicare/Medicaid options are also available.

Direct Access is available at all of Valley Health’s outpatient PT clinics. To learn more, visit their website: valleyhealthlink.com/physicaltherapy and read the article about it here.

Community Health: Direct Access to Physical Therapy

Our conversation today was part of our community health partnership with Valley Health. Every month, we chat with physicians, nurses, administrators, and others within the Valley Health system to talk about topics involving the health & wellness of our community.

Today, we talked with Mary Presley, Director of Rehab Services at Warren Memorial Hospital. Mary has been a frequent guest on the show. Joining Mary, was Marsha Cooper, a physical therapist based at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.

The pair explained a fairly new program offered at all the Valley Health facilities: Direct Access for physical therapy services. This program bypasses the usual primary care/urgent care visit and allows patients to go directly to one of their physical therapists for sprained ankles, aching backs, vertigo, the list goes on as Marsha explained. 

Valley Health direct-access physical therapists have a doctorate degree in physical therapy and significant training in evaluation and diagnosis. These experts use various techniques depending on the patient’s individual needs. They also use an evidence-based tool called FOTO (Focus on Therapeutic Outcomes), which generates real-time data to measure how well the treatment is working. Physical therapists specialize in areas such as orthopedics, sports medicine, pediatrics, wound care, pelvic health, and balance disturbances; they can also help with neurologic issues and frequently work with individuals recovering from stroke.

Mary explained how direct access is often less expensive for patients – along with being more convenient because it reduces the cost of other copays and prior doctor visits before landing at physical therapy. The clinic will contact a patient’s insurance company to obtain authorization, just like when a patient visits their doctor, and verify the copayment determined by the patient’s health plan. Medicare/Medicaid options are also available.

Direct Access is available at all of Valley Health’s outpatient PT clinics. To learn more, visit their website: valleyhealthlink.com/physicaltherapy and read the article about it here.

Community Health: Heart Valves

Community Health: Heart Valves

February is American Heart Month so we pulled up the mics to chat with Dr. Ernesto Jimenez as part of our community health partnership with Valley Health. Dr. Jimenez is a board certified cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive valve surgery, mitral valve repair and coronary artery revascularization with arterial conduits. He’s part of Valley Health Cardiothoracic Surgeons and the advanced valve program team at Winchester Medical Center’s Heart & Vascular Center.

Our conversation centered around healthy valves and what happens when they start to break down. Dr. Jimenez explained how valves work, what happens to them over time and talked about symptoms we might experience when they begin to fail.

He walked us through a few treatment options and talked about the advancements in minimally invasive surgery for valve repair/replacement since the 1950’s.

For more information about Valley Health’s Heart & Vascular Center, visit their website HERE.

Making Healthy Choices With or Without Surgery

Today’s conversation with Georgeann Freimuth, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with Valley Health’s Metabolic and Bariatric Program was pretty insightful. She gave us some great tips about making healthier eating choices and busted a few myths about how often you should be eating each day to lose weight. Click here to have a listen.

Valley Health’s Metabolic & Bariatric Program offers surgical and non-surgical options. She explained the non-surgical options that include a comprehensive plan with a team approach. We talked about their medication assisted & Optifast programs. She also gave us a rundown of the surgical options available.

We discussed the importance of changing your mindset and your lifestyle for long term success.

To get more details about their various weight loss programs, click here to visit their website.