Friday, April 30, 2010

National Cancer Survivors’ Day Celebration on June 6

National Cancer Survivors’ Day is held each year in hundreds of communities throughout the world on the first Sunday in June. It is a symbolic event to demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality. Join us at Sentara Potomac Hospital on Sunday, June 6, at 2:00 p.m., for speakers, refreshments and entertainment.

This year’s featured speaker is Shak Hill, whose wife, Robyn, is a 17-year cancer survivor. His wife’s diagnosis of cancer was the wake-up call that led to his publishing When the Doctor Says It’s Cancer and A Woman’s Guide to Financial Planning. Shak uses humor, knowledge and life experiences to reach audiences across the country.

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. To register call Sentara Potomac’s Health Connection at 703-221-2500 or online at Co-sponsored by Sentara Potomac Hospital and Potomac Radiation Oncology Center.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Join us for Relay for Life - May 15 & 16

Crushing Cancer One Decade at a Time is the theme for the 2010 Relay for Life event, which will be held at Forest Park High School on Saturday, May 15 through Sunday, May 16. This celebration is an opportunity to support cancer survivorship as well as raise funds for the American Cancer Society’s programs and research.

This fun-filled, overnight event raised over $200,000 last year as participants from teams walked the track over the 24-hour period.

This marks the seventh year that Sentara Potomac Hospital’s General Cancer Support Group and the Potomac Radiation Oncology Center have participated. Survivors are specially honored during the Friday night Survivors’ Dinner and during the first lap around the track.

Come and join the fun! To register a team, please go to and join the rest of us during this exciting and inspiring event.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are You a Smoker Who Wants to be a Non-smoker?

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

It was a dark and stormy night. There we were, the visibility out of the already puny windshield of our Volkswagon almost zilch in the blinding Wisconsin snow storm. Suddenly my vision was even more impaired by the cloud of billowing smoke curling off my sister’s newly lit cigarette. I coughed…I hacked…and then I did what many a non-smoker I daresay has resorted to in a similar situation. “Give me one of those darn things!” I lit up…I coughed, I hacked, but from that day on, at the age of 16, I became a smoker.

So began my 16-year on again, off again love affair with cigarettes. In those days we didn’t worry too much about the dangers of smoking. After all, the then paltry warning on the packs: the Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health was hardly a deterrent. Maybe?? Maybe not!! As the years went on I knew better. I even quit for two years once…until I caught a glimpse of a physician’s note after a pre-employment physical…“29-year-old slightly obese female”…I stopped at a 7-11 and picked up a pack on the way home. Cigarettes were my weight control program, my social crutch (I’m a closet introvert) and my stress management.

Sound familiar? It wasn’t until my 18-month- old daughter, Ann, snatched a butt out of the ash tray and grabbed the Bic lighter with the other little fist that something snapped in my smoke-clouded brain synapses. I finally quit for good.

If you are a smoker and you want to quit, you know, as I do, that it just ain’t easy! Yet consider the facts: smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide, causing the death of 393,000 Americans per year. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, and is a main cause of lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema). It is also a major cause of heart disease and stroke. If you need more tangible motivation to consider quitting how about the extra yearly health care expenditures which average out to $4,260 per smoker? Add that to the $1,650-a-year the pack-a-day smoker spends and you’ve got a chunk of change you could probably find a better use for!

If you are a smoker who would like to quit, there’s help out there. Both the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association offer help online. As in my case, quitting smoking often requires several attempts, so don’t be discouraged. Studies show that using counseling or medication separately increase the chances of success, and both together are even more effective.

While not a formal counseling session, Sentara Potomac Hospital offers a weekly Nicotine Anonymous Meeting in the Hylton Education Center from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. every Wednesday. If you are looking for a non-judgmental, supportive group of people who are going through the same struggles as you in your attempts to be nicotine free, please consider joining us. You do not have to have quit smoking to join; only have the desire. Together, we can move mountains…or at least kick butt, literally!


Putting the ‘D’ Back in Your Diet

Recent studies have shown that many Americans are not getting an adequate amount of vitamin D. What does that mean for women? Simply, if you’re not getting enough vitamin D you are at risk for osteoporosis because vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium.

“Even if you’re taking calcium supplements your body may not be getting the calcium it needs,” says Atousa Farough, M.D., an internal medicine physician with Cardinal Internal Medicine and a member of the Sentara Potomac Hospital medical staff. “Without adequate vitamin D, calcium is not properly absorbed into the body. Therefore, the calcium is really not helping maintain your bone health.”

According to Dr. Farough, the relationship between calcium and vitamin D is similar to gas and oil in your car. Even if you use the highest quality gas in your car, it won’t run well if you don’t replenish your oil.

“The two work in tandem and don’t really work as well without the other one,” says Dr. Farough. “The current recommendations are for women 18- to 50-years-old to take 200 IU (International Units) of vitamin D a day. Those ages 50-70 should take 400 IU and those over 70 should take 600 IU a day. But women should talk to their doctors about how much vitamin D they need. Many women need more than the recommended amount – especially those who get limited sun exposure or who have other health conditions that warrant the increase.”

“In addition to aiding calcium absorption,” says Dr. Farough, “research suggests that vitamin D also provides protection from osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer and other diseases, which makes talking to your doctor about vitamin D even more important.”

According to Dr. Farough, 10 minutes of daily sun exposure can also contribute to vitamin D intake, as well as eating vitamin D-rich food such as fish, eggs and fortified milk or orange juice.

Dr. Atousa Farough encourages all women to talk to their doctors about getting the right amount of vitamin D. She is a partner at Cardinal Internal Medicine in Lake Ridge and can be reached at 703-497-4700.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wellness Wit and Wisdom

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

An early morning news program’s report brought back a vivid memory from my pediatric nursing days on a trauma unit at Children’s Hospital in San Diego. In the course of my duties I cared for many little ones who had been victims of accidents, but one of the most heart wrenching was a toddler who had been run over in his own driveway by his unsuspecting dad.

The child was riding a low slung tricycle which dad could not see through his rearview and side mirrors. The result: the little guy suffered a near fatal crushing injury to his chest. My story had a happy ending in that the child survived without any lasting physical deficits. However, the horrific guilt and remorse experienced by the father were I’m sure something he carries still.

The news story I heard unfortunately had a much more tragic ending; a one-year-old little boy was run over and killed in the family driveway on Easter Sunday. The statistics surrounding this type of accident are staggering. According to Kids and Cars, a non-profit safety organization that maintains a national database tracking such accidents, reports that 50 children a week are backed over by cars, and two of those children will die as a result.

Susan Koeppen, the CBS correspondent covering the story, noted that so far this year some 17 children have died after being run over. April is typically the peak month for these accidents, as mild weather lures the little ones outdoors. Blind zones are the culprits in these accidents, which in 60% of the cases occur with larger vehicles such as SUVs, trucks or minivans.

In an unbelievable visual, Koeppen demonstrated just how difficult it is to see behind an SUV. Through the mirrors of the car, nothing appeared in the rear view. In actually, some 60 kids were sitting behind the car! offers these tips to protect your child from a back-over injury:
  • Never leave small children unattended in the front yard; make the front yard a “no child zone” when adults are not around to closely supervise.

  • Don’t let any child play outside after dark.

  • Ideally, children should play in a fenced back yard. Take your children to a safe area to ride their bikes or to play with sidewalk chalk.

  • Back up cameras installed in cars are an added safety feature, but parents and other adults who care for children should take the extra steps…literally…of walking behind the vehicle to make sure there are no small children left undetected behind the car before they back up.

  • Car keys should never be left unattended in a vehicle.

  • At an early age instill in your child the basic safety rules of never playing around or near parked vehicles.
The bottom line: when it comes to your child’s safety, nothing replaces careful parental supervision.


Back, Leg and Neck Pain: When to Seek Medical Advice

Recurrent pain in the back, legs and neck is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctors. A better understanding of the causes of pain and the diagnostic process to identify the problem will help you find the right solution.

At this free seminar, Hajeer Sabet, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Medical Staff, will discuss some of the common causes of back pain, leg pain and sciatica and the different types of problems that can cause each. He’ll also discuss different ways to get relief – from what questions to ask your doctor to lifestyle changes, physical therapy, medical treatment and new surgical options, including minimally invasive spinal surgery.

Join us on Tuesday, May 4, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Potomac Hospital. This program is free but registration is required. To register, call Sentara Potomac's Health Connection at 703-221-2500 or register online under Special Programs.

Women’s Health Initiative: Small Steps to Healthier Lives

Sentara Potomac Hospital has partnered with da Vinci® Surgery,, Curves International, and the Office on Women’s Health to help spread the word about the importance of taking control of your health with diet, exercise and annual gynecologic exams.

At these free events, doctors and health professionals from Sentara Potomac Hospital will discuss important wellness information and how to take small steps to a healthier life. They’ll also discuss other women’s health issues and the advantages of Sentara Potomac Hospital’s da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system for gynecology and pelvic surgeries. As an extra bonus, Curves is offering a special promotion for participants (details at

Join us at our Small Steps to Healthier Lives Series:

Monday, May 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Curves, 2221 Old Bridge Road, Lake Ridge
Presented by Dr. Alf Adler, board-certified gynecologist

Tuesday, May 11, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Focus on Women’s Pelvic Health
Hylton Education Center at Sentara Potomac Hospital
Presented by Dr. Alok Desai, a urologist with fellowship training in female urology, and Dr. Richard Jenet, a board-certified and da Vinci-trained OB/GYN

These programs are free but registration is required. To register, call Sentara Potomac Hospital's Health Connection at 703-221-2500 or register online under Special Programs.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sinus Problems? We Have the Solutions

Are you suffering from chronic sinus problems such as runny nose, itchy eyes, loss of smell or taste, headaches, or dizziness? These are common complaints, but solutions can be found to help treat your problem.

Join us at our free seminar, Sinus Solutions, on Thursday, April 29, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Potomac Hospital.

Drs. Ramin Ipakchi and Alidad Arabshahi, ear, nose and throat specialists on Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Medical Staff, will discuss some of the common causes of sinus discomfort and the different types of treatments – medications and new surgery procedures -- that are available for relief. Drs. Ipakchi and Arabshahi are specially trained in minimally invasive sinus surgery techniques, including balloon sinuplasty.

This is a free program but registration is required. To register, call Sentara Potomac's Health Connection at (703) 221-2500 or register online at

President & CEO Announces Retirement

After almost 30 years with Sentara Potomac Hospital, William H. Flannagan, Jr. has announced his retirement. Friday, April 23 will be his last day.

Bill Flannagan joined the Sentara Potomac Hospital leadership team in 1980 as the vice president of Professional Services and in 1982 he became the vice president of Operations. In 1985 he was named executive vice president and chief operating officer responsible for all day-to-day hospital and affiliated operations. He began his new role of president and chief executive officer in 2009 when Bill Moss stepped down as hospital president after 31 years.

Statement from Bill Flannagan:

“In 1980, my first impression of the hospital was that it had so much promise. I saw a place that had the potential and the opportunity to grow into a great community asset. At that time the northern Virginia area was expanding tremendously and the healthcare industry was growing rapidly as well. I was excited about getting started and helping move us along in a rapidly changing field.

“During my almost thirty years of involvement with our hospital, I have been given a tremendous opportunity to help with the growth and development of a truly wonderful community organization. This was made possible by a great team of individuals; Bill Moss, our Board of Trustees and Directors, as well as a dedicated group of long-term administrators, directors, employees, and physicians.

“Our goal has always been, and still is, to treat our patients and employees the way we and our families would want to be treated. We have dozens of long-term employees who have been here for many years. They have the skills and smarts to work just about anywhere, but they choose to stay here, year after year. I think that is a testament to our family-friendly atmosphere and I’m very proud of what we have built together over these years.

“I am also appreciative of having had the opportunity to participate in the process that has brought Sentara and Potomac together. I believe we did the right thing for the community for the right reasons and have succeeded in securing nothing but a positive future for the hospital.

“It has been my privilege to be a member of the Sentara Potomac Hospital team.”

A search for Flannagan’s replacement will begin soon. Valerie Keane, vice president of Operations, has been named interim administrator responsible for daily hospital operations, effective April 26. Keane joined the hospital team in 1989.