Thursday, August 17, 2017  

Health & Senior Living Section
Keeping You and Your Family Healthy  

Choosing a PCP

“PCP” is a commonly used acronym or abbreviation to describe your primary healthcare provider.  This is usually a physician, but can also be a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant who works under the direction of a physician.

Primary care providers offer compre­hensive medical care for you and your family including:

  • Treatment of acute conditions, such as respiratory infections, urinary tract infections or influenza.
  • Management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions or arthritis.
  • Development of a comprehensive and appropriate disease prevention plan.
  • Prescribe and coordinate diagnostic imaging tests.
  • Referrals to other specialists, when needed.
  • Coordination of care with a hospital if you ever require a hospital stay.
  • Coordinate home care or long term care for you or a family member.
  • Using the electronic medical record system, primary care providers also serve as a comprehensive repository for your patient records (through the electronic medical record system).

To help you determine what type of doctor may be right for you, here is helpful information about several types of primary care providers:  

Internal Medicine & Family Medicine Physicians
Both Internal Medicine and Family Medicine physicians serve as primary care providers. Each specialty requires four years of medical school followed by a three year residency. Both Internal Medicine and Family Medicine physicians can treat a variety of illnesses and condi­tions, conduct health screenings and comprehensive physical exams, provide primary, wellness and preventative healthcare. They can be your partner in monitoring and managing long-term illnesses and conditions including diabetes and high cholesterol. If they diagnose a condition requiring referral to another specialist, they can coordinate that care with the specialty physician.

While Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) are experts in the female reproductive system, some women use their OB/GYN as their primary care provider. OB/GYNs are physicians trained to care for women during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as manage any disorders of the female reproductive system. Like Internal Medicine and Family Medicine physicians, OB/GYNs attend four years of medical school, followed by a three year residency. 

Pediatricians are physicians trained to care for newborns, infants, children and adolescents. They also attend four years of medical school followed by three years of residency training. They provide preventive care for healthy children and treat children who are injured or ill. They specialize in childhood diseases, growth and emotional health.

Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants
Many primary care physicians also use “midlevel” care providers to help take care of their patients. “Midlevel” is a term used to describe Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants who are trained to manage patient care under the supervision of a physician. They are licensed to provide care, as well as to order diagnostic tests or prescribe many medications.

A Nurse Practitioner has completed a registered nursing degree program as part of a bachelor’s degree. In addition, they have a master’s degree from an accredited nurse practitioner program.   Physician Assistants also have a bachelor’s degree and then complete a master’s level degree in a physician’s assistant program.    

Selecting Your Doctor
When you have narrowed the list of potential primary care providers, you may want to contact the provider’s office and ask questions including:

  • Will they accept your insurance? Will they handle health insurance paperwork for you?
  • What are the office hours? Make sure office hours are convenient and there is a plan for after hours care.
  • Does the practice use an electronic medical record system? Electronic medical records increase patient safety, save time and place access to your medical history in one place.
  • Which continuing care facilities are used? You’ll want to know what hospitals, surgical facilities, or diagnostic facilities the providers use and what is available to you. Make sure the locations are convenient for you and your family members. 
  • Is your physician board-certified or board eligible?
  • You may want to find out more about your doctor: Call your state licensing board or go online to learn about any registered complaints or disciplinary actions taken against any provider you are considering.

It is best to choose a primary care provider before you or your family needs one. Based on what is important to you, ask family, friends and co-workers for references. Be sure to consider things such as communication style and whether you need a physician experienced in treating a particular chronic condition such as diabetes.  Do some research and take your time in choosing a provider that is
right for you.

Submitted by Stewart Jennings, M.D., Board-Certified in Internal Medicine & Pediatrics. Dr. Jennings’ practice is located at Riverside King William Medical Center in the King William Square shopping center, near the corner of U.S. 360 and Highway 30 in King William County. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (804) 769-1245.

Hospice of Virginia

The Promise of Comfort
By Karin Andrews

Living well is the key to a well-lived life. This is a simple but extremely thought provoking and profound statement! In my mind, a well-lived life has nothing to do with how much money one has, how many homes, cars or land one may or may not own, how many pairs of shoes, jewels or collectibles one has amassed or even how many awards one has been given. These are all good things, no doubt, but not quite good enough. The one thing they all have in common, besides being aspired to, is that they are all useless against life-threatening or life-limiting disease, except when used as a tool to fund research or to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Money or possessions, except for a good blanket, cannot keep you warm at night, hold your hand, pray with you when you are frightened or quell the longing in your heart to be understood— but another person can.

Living well is all about finally being comfortable in our own skin and being at peace with your choices in life. It is reveling in the love and goodwill of family and friends and making the most of every moment. It is about being present for life’s simple pleasures that truly make it worth living. A life well lived appreciates the way the sun feels when it kisses your face, the sound of nighttime creatures as they proclaim the coming of spring or the lullaby of the Bay as its waves gently caress the shore accompanied by a starry, starry night.

Some of the greatest revelations about life come toward the end of it, as we review what has been, what is inevitable, what we accomplished, what legacy we might leave behind and what we wish we could have or should have done. It’s about forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. One of the greatest gifts one can give is to listen, pray, hold someone’s hand and offer unconditional acceptance and compassionate end-of-life care.

Those who have shared their heart in this way know how important it is to give. The great equalizer will find us all one day and our bodies will surely wear out— even so, our spirit can remain strong and true when surrounded by compassionate caregivers and the love of family and friends.

Terminal and Life-Limiting Illnesses
Hearing the words that your loved one has a terminal illness can literally bring the world to a temporary standstill. The stunning severity of those words is so surreal that you can scarcely process it. It feels like you are suddenly in a vacuum, everything slows down and you are teetering at the edge of what is yet to come. Having been a caregiver over ten years ago to a terminally ill family member, I know this feeling all too well.

Without help when it is needed most will result in feelings of isolation which will further limit the quality of life for both the patient and caregivers…but it doesn’t have to be this way.

The Promise of Comfort
There is a promise of comfort and a helping hand that is ready, willing and able to stand with you every step of the way, to offer guidance and a way through the whirlwind of terminal illness and everything else that comes along with that.
With competence, caring, compassion and a plan that works, Hospice of Virginia utilizes a dedicated core of qualified physicians, nurse case managers, spiritual counselors, bereavement counselors, social workers, certified hospice aides and trained volunteers who will be there whenever and wherever you need them.

The team is always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when needed. If you’ve ever been a caregiver you know how much this means.

“We are the bridge between the patient and the doctor,” says Michelle Wills, RN, Patient Care Coordinator.
Many people with life threatening or terminal illnesses suffer needlessly every year due to lack of knowledge regarding the availability and the hope that hospice provides to patients and their families. Many families feel that they cannot afford hospice care or by requesting “hospice” they will in some way hasten the death of their loved one.

The end of life, with good hospice care, can be a time of celebration, healing and temporary good-byes instead of being stressed out and alienated from one another—which can so easily happen when a caregiver’s nerves are beyond frazzled.

Anyone who has walked that lonely walk knows the despair, desperation, weariness to the bone and loss of life they deal with every day with no respite. It doesn’t have to be that way.

When utilized early, hospice care can improve the quality of life for the terminally ill patient through spiritual support, counseling, pain mitigation, hospice aide visits and other services that will also ease the burden for both the primary caregiver and family members as well. This alone will do wonders to alleviate stress which can often lead to the literal collapse of a caregiver, from sheer exhaustion.

There are few stresses or situations that try our souls more than the terminal illness and impending death of a beloved friend or family member. Yet it is often something that we choose not to discuss or open our hearts to until it is almost too late. The final days of life should be spent surrounded by those we love, knowing that we and those we care for will be helped through the tough times.

What is Hospice?
Hospice is an approach to care, rather than a place of care. Patients can be cared for in their own homes, in a nursing or assisted living facility where Hospice of Virginia partners with the facility. Together as a team, a joint plan of care is tailored to the specific needs of the patient.

The needs and wants of the patient and their family determine the plan of care. Essentially—Hospice is personalized care for every situation. Hospice is the perfect expression of empathy and compassion at one of life’s most vulnerable and difficult times.

“The focus is on immediacy. If there is a need it is dealt with right away,” says Mary Lynn Tackett, MSW.

How does Hospice of Virginia Work?
Hospice of Virginia utilizes an inter-disciplinary team of hospice experts. Hospice physicians work with the patient’s attending physician, as needed. Each patient’s plan of care is developed by the treatment team, including the patient and their family.

Hospice of Virginia also operates its own 15-bed In-patient Unit at Retreat Hospital in Richmond, which is a symptom manage­ment unit with the ultimate goal of getting the patient back home where they are most comfortable. The setting of the In-patient Unit utilizes its own unique hospice team who provide around-the-clock care under the supervision of the unit’s medical director. Hospice of Virginia also maintains contracts with individual hospitals and nursing facilities throughout their service area to provide both in-patient and respite care.

A staff of masters-level social workers assist with emotional support, financial concerns, and more. Certified hospice aides assist with bathing, dressing, skin care, personal needs and also work with the caregiver to impart the skills they need to make the task at hand easier. A Spiritual and Bereavement Coordinator provides spiritual support and/or counseling to patients and their families. This support continues for the family for up to 13 months following the death of their loved one. Hospice trained volunteers visit the family, help with day-to-day tasks, provide caregiver relief and often become part of the family— offering emotional support as well. Many volunteers have walked the walk in their own life and feel compelled to offer life-giving support.

Other therapies such as physical, occupational, speech, respiratory and alternative therapies are also utilized as needed. Hospice of Virginia also works with a specialized hospice pharmacy consulting group who review each patient’s medications to ensure optimum management of the patient’s distinctive medical needs. An on-call hospice nurse is always available, which gives great peace of mind when it is needed most.

Who qualifies for care with Hospice of Virginia?
Patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a life expectancy of six months or less qualify for hospice care. This can include but is not limited to Cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Alzheimer’s Disease or other Dementias, Congestive Heart Failure, AIDS, End Stage Kidney Disease, Lung Disease, Multi-System Breakdown and Stroke.

“When a patient has a terminal diagnosis and no longer wishes to pursue aggressive treatment, frequent visits to the Emergency Department or hospitalizations, Hospice is another option of care,” says LuAnne Davis, Provider Relations Coordinator.

Anyone may make a referral or request information for a friend or loved one. However the patient’s attending physician must certify the patient meets the hospice guidelines in order to be admitted for care. The patient and family also must understand the nature of the illness and that the illness is terminal. Hospice of Virginia’s service area includes: Richmond Metro Area, Farmville, Tappahannock, Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck, Hampton Roads and the Greater Fredericksburg area—providing care in 65 counties and cities.

Benefits of Hospice Care
Peace of mind and knowing you are not alone is a huge benefit of hospice care. It is having someone to call if you have questions, if you need spiritual support and knowing that your loved one is being treated lovingly and compassionately in the final days of life.

Hospice of Virginia also offers spiritual support with no agenda. The spiritual counselor is always willing to talk and listen as well. They are available 365 days a year, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
MaryDell Sigler, Spiritual Care and Bereavement Coordinator in the Tappahannock Branch has been asked to perform funerals after caring for patients and their families during their time
in hospice.

Can I afford Hospice?
Anyone can afford hospice services provided by Hospice of Virginia. You do not have to have Medicare, Medicaid or Health Insurance to receive hospice care. You will never be discriminated against if you lack the means to pay for services. Hospice of Virginia will take patients with no ability to pay if there is a need. If you do have Health Insurance, Hospice of Virginia accepts whatever your health insurance allows. There are no co-pays or other out-of-pocket expenses. If you have Medicare (Part A) or Medicaid you are covered and again there are no additional charges.

How can I get touch with Hospice of Virginia?
For more information about Hospice of Virginia, visit them online at www.hospiceva.com. You can reach them in their main office in Richmond by calling 804-281-0451. To reach them in the Tappahannock Office, please feel free to call them at 804-443-4090.

How can I help?
Hospice of Virginia provides ongoing training for new volunteers. If you would like to volunteer with Hospice of Virginia, call 804-443-4090. The volunteer coordinator will answer your questions and explain different volunteer opportunities available.

Closing words
From my own experience I can attest to the life-line that hospice care gives to patients, their primary caregivers and to their families. If you currently have a need in this area or would like more information about how Hospice of Virginia can help, please give them a call today.

Finally, I’d like to thank LuAnne Davis, Mary Lynn Tackett, Michelle Wills and MaryDell Sigler for sharing their time, stories and most importantly their heart. For those of you wishing to volunteer your time, talents and your heart please call today. “Time and tide stayeth still for no man.”

Discover Gloucester’s Hidden Gem

By Jim Janicki

Mama Lovebird chirps happily from her perch. Daddy Lovebird relaxes near her, making the pair a perfect audience (and possible referees) for the game of chess taking place in the center of the sunny sitting room. It’s one of many scenes that elicit the same warm, inviting atmosphere in the common area of Sanders Retirement Village’s assisted living residence. Tomorrow the birds will be front row for Tai Chi class.

Tucked just behind historic Main Street in Gloucester, Sanders welcomes guests with a colonial charm while maintaining a distinct community atmosphere that is all its own. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Sanders became part of Riverside Health System a few years ago, and reflects the quality of care and resources expected from the area’s top health provider. For “Ms. Parker,” she’s focused on her move toward checkmate, not the electronic health records maintained by the nurses or the integration with nearby Riverside Walter Reed Hospital.

Sanders offers four distinct levels of support for residents: Independent Living, short-term Rehabilitation, Assisted Living and long-term Health Care.

Independent Living
Independent Living cottages line the main driveway, which runs into 30 acres of woods hugging the back edge of the community. The cottages come in several sizes and floor plans, each with a living room that opens to a spacious deck, some overlooking the peaceful, relaxing woods. And a space to relax is essential for the active, on-the-go Sanders residents, who take part in daily events and programs like the Body Recall exercise class, planting flowers in the private community garden and working out at the nearby Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center, where residents receive free memberships. One thing that won’t be tiring out the residents is maintenance; all Sanders cottages include housekeeping and interior and exterior maintenance.

Riverside Rehabilitation Center at Sanders
Sanders prides itself in the individual attention and special relationships found within the Riverside Rehabilitation Center, located on campus. Here, patient-guests can stay on a short-term inpatient basis as they recover from surgery or illness. After performing a few sets of arm exercises in the specialized therapy gym, a guest may then work on practical skills in the simulated therapy kitchen by baking cupcakes or assembling a gingerbread house.

More than a few laughs or freshly baked treats, guests also experience the high quality, national caliber therapy protocols of Riverside Therapy Group. The staff is certainly friendly, but they have the required experience and knowledge that distinguishes Riverside— expertise that few centers would be able to match. Riverside Rehabilitation Centers also feature the added benefit of medical oversight by a board-certified physiatrist (physical rehab doctor), to ensure guests receive the best treatment available, right here in Gloucester.

Assisted Living
Each of the four Assisted Living apartment styles is roomy, with sun streaming in from oversized windows. The elegant dining room feels more like an exclusive restaurant, with dramatic chandeliers and hardwood floors. A recent art project helped some residents discover hidden talents. “New York Skyline at Dusk” and “Curlique Flowers,” two paintings from the project, now hang in frames along the hallway. With appointments at the onsite beauty salon, concerts, crafts and movies, residents may not have time to worry about laundry or housekeeping, so Sanders offers to take care of that, too. Residents in Assisted Living can receive varying degrees of support with everyday tasks from the community’s friendly, professional staff.

Health Care
The Sanders Health Care Center provides long-term nursing care to residents who need a higher level of support than Assisted Living residents. Residents personalize their living space with blankets, furniture and other treasures brought from their previous home. Participating in the Resident Council, playing Sanders-style basketball and joining in on a Sittercise class keeps residents active and engaged. With professional medical staff who all meet Riverside’s rigorous standards for quality, residents and their loved ones can be confident in the care they receive each day.

A Revolutionary Future
You don’t have to look farther than the upcoming plans at Sanders to see the innovation and genuine resident-centered philosophy of Riverside at its finest. Sanders will soon break ground on the first freestanding “culture-change small house,” designed to provide the kind of long-term nursing care you may have never thought possible.

Life at this house will facilitate resident independence and encourage active, healthy, enriched living, which is the basis for the entire “culture change” concept, an idea promoted by the Pioneer Network, a national organization that strives to improve nursing facility quality of life. While traditional nursing homes adhere to structured schedules for residents, Riverside believes in keeping residents in control of their everyday lives. Rather than creating a “home-like environment,” Riverside is simply creating home, the way any of us would want it.

At the new Sanders small house, based on the Pioneer Network’s specific “Green House” model, residents will wake, eat and participate in programs and events at their own choosing, with professional medical care and companionship provided by their own personal liaison, a professional trained in medical care as well as supportive roles, such as helping with dressing or bathing. Without sacrificing quality medical care or individual attention, Riverside is offering residents not just a place to stay, but a house they’ll be excited to live in. Two houses will accommodate 20 residents each and, just like traditional houses, the bedrooms will be spread around the common living areas, including a family-style, resident-friendly kitchen and
dining room.
In keeping with tradition, Riverside is offering Gloucester residents unparalleled services steps away from their historic town square. Individuals from across the commonwealth will be interested in moving to the Sanders small house, but current Sanders residents will be given first priority.

“We encourage families to join the Sanders community now, so they are able to make the move to the new small houses when they open,” said Tami Nunn, director of marketing. “We expect there will be a significant waiting list for those outside our community trying to move in here.”

Amidst an outside world that forgets names and deals in numbers, Sanders is a place that has done the seemingly impossible by clinging to old fashioned manners and Southern hospitality. The hearts of the Sanders staff—from housekeepers to activities coordinators to therapists—beat for their residents and the community to which they are so deeply committed. Residents and staff seem to love Sanders for the exact same reason—the family atmosphere, which is felt both by the housekeeper of 25 years and newcomers alike. The exciting changes at Sanders will only enhance the unique warmth of
this community.

Clearly, Mama and Daddy Lovebird aren’t the only ones who have found the perfect home here at Sanders. For more information about Sanders Retirement Village, call (804) 693-2000 or visit sandersliving.com.