Despite early preparation, hospices and hospitals all over the globe are experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the foreseeable future. With masks on backorder and patient visits as crucial as ever, volunteers in the community have stepped up to offer their time and sewing skills to help support the urgent needs of Blue Ridge Hospice (BRH).
“We are very short on face masks. We are not alone as most health care systems, and hospices, around the globe, are very short on supply,” says Dr. Brendan Flynn, Chief Medical Officer at BRH, “Hospital systems across the country are asking their community members who love sewing to pitch in and make hand-made, fabric face masks for clinical staff caring for patients. BRH is doing the same.”
After receiving the mask-making instructions, volunteers and staff got to work with the goal of making enough washable, re-usable face masks for each clinical staff member to have multiple masks to use during their daily patient care.
These masks are compliant with CDC requirements of barrier face masks and will be effective in blocking droplets. “They are not the ideal, first choice for mask-wear but, in times such as these, they will provide ongoing protection if/when our surgical masks supplies become critically low. So many hospices across the country have no masks so we are fortunate to have the community we do around us who want to help keep us safe”, said Flynn.
“This is because our volunteers, and the community at large, want to help us,” says Tonia Sweeney, Volunteer Services Manager at BRH, “so many of our staff and volunteers who visit and care for our patients now are left unable to do so due to COVID-19 safety concerns and yet they still want to help our organization.”
“All volunteers and employees across Blue Ridge Hospice have really come together regardless of their roles; clinical, administrative, thrift and warehouse, to make the masks and help however they can. Our patient and family volunteers, who provide emotional support and companionship, are continuing to call patients and their families – this is more important than ever with most people self-isolating,” says Sweeney, “Dr. Flynn said, ‘people want to help so let’s put them to work’ and we jumped into action.”
“Dr. Flynn has been on top of the situation from the very beginning,” says Sweeney, “he has taken this very seriously and has ensured that our staff and volunteers were kept informed of the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and taking appropriate measures to protect themselves and our patients. Blue Ridge Hospice will come out of this stronger than ever.”
About Blue Ridge Hospice:
Blue Ridge Hospice is a community, nonprofit healthcare organization that has been providing hospice care to patients in the Shenandoah Valley since 1981 and is accredited by The Joint Commission. To learn more about Blue Ridge Hospice visit www.brhospice.org, or call 540-313-9200.
EDA crunches operational budget numbers, moves scandal year audits forward
The Board of Directors met today for their regular monthly meeting. Following an approximately two-hour Closed Meeting, on a motion by Jim Wolfe and seconded by Scott Jenkins, the EDA Board unanimously agreed to add an additional $10,000 to the contract with Brown Edwards, who is completing the FY2018 and FY2019 audits, pending documentation of work completed and review by legal counsel.
Under New Business, the Board agreed to table action on updating the EDA Bylaws. The Board of Directors did pass three additional motions:
On a motion by Jorie Martin and seconded by Jim Wolfe, the EDA Board unanimously approved requesting to the Board of Supervisors an increase of three line items to the EDA’s FY2022 Operations budget:
Professional fees-Auditor $32,500: this increase is to account for a $10,000 amendment to the Brown Edwards contract for FY 2018 and FY2019, and $40,000 to conduct the FY2020 and FY2021 audits.
Marketing-$5,880: this increase is to account for updated plans to participate in economic development programs and site visits, as well as marketing materials.
Maintenance-$14,310: The EDA is reimbursing the commercial tenant at 1325 Progress Drive for HVAC replacement and repairs. Additionally, the HVAC at 400 Kendrick Lane-West and 426 Baugh Drive need extensive service.
On a motion by Jorie Martin and seconded by Jim Wolfe, the EDA Board unanimously approved a Request For Proposals (RFP) to advertise for auditing services for the fiscal year 2020 and 2021.
Finally, on a motion by Jorie Martin and seconded by Jim Wolfe, the EDA Board approved reimbursing Visionary Optics, the tenant at 1325 Progress Drive, $4,500 for expenses related to HVAC replacement and repairs.
The EDA Board of Directors will have their next regular monthly board meeting via Zoom on Friday, August 27, 2021, at 8 a.m.
Virginia’s State Board for Community Colleges approves name change for Lord Fairfax Community College
Virginia’s State Board for Community Colleges today approved changing the name of three of the commonwealth’s 23 community colleges, including Lord Fairfax Community College, which will become Laurel Ridge Community College.
The new name, selected by a task force of students, faculty, alumni, LFCC retirees, community members, and college board members, is drawn from the native laurel flower that is characteristic of the region, and the proximity of the college’s four locations to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“As with our sister colleges within Virginia’s Community College System, we are very proud of what’s been accomplished in our first 50 years, and the thousands of lives in our region that have been changed because of Lord Fairfax Community College,” said college President Kim Blosser. “As we begin our next 50 years, we are embracing a new name that better reflects our college’s positive spirit, can-do attitude, and welcoming culture. Laurel Ridge Community College exemplifies our mission to provide a positive, caring, and dynamic learning environment that inspires student success, values diversity, and promotes community vitality.”
Dr. Blosser noted that the laurel flower for millennia has been associated with academic achievement – all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman times. The term “laureate” – as in Nobel and poet laureate – is bestowed on those attaining the highest levels of creative and intellectual success.
President Blosser said that the development of the college’s new visual identity – logos and signage, for example – will begin immediately. Incoming students in the fall will be officially enrolled in Lord Fairfax Community College while the college works toward completing its transition to Laurel Ridge during the academic year. Degrees will begin reflecting the new name during the 2022-2023 academic year.
“Since the State Board’s resolution to review all named facilities, campuses, and colleges was passed July 16, 2020, the college has engaged with hundreds of students, employees, alumni, retirees, college supporters, and community members,” said Dr. Blosser. “Today’s decision by the State Board allows us to move forward in a way that acknowledges all the great work that’s happened at LFCC with a renewed commitment to our students and our business community that even better things are ahead at LRCC.
“I want to thank the task force, our employees, the many individuals who participated in roundtable feedback groups, and our College Board for their dedicated and painstaking work.”
The transition to Laurel Ridge will have no impact on the degrees and certificates students attained between 1972 and 2022. The former name will be printed in parentheses on new transcripts.
Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College, soon-to-be Laurel Ridge Community College, is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County, and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs offered on-site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.
Valley Health CEO responds to criticism of its COVID vaccine mandate
Shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, Royal Examiner received the following response from Valley Health President and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Mark Nantz regarding comments by Front Royal Town Councilman Scott Lloyd citing their employee COVID vaccination mandate of July 19 as one reason he considers his vaccine-related ordinance proposal now an “Emergency” submission to council. That ordinance, as previously reported, would legislatively block by municipal code any private sector business or organization operating within the town limits from reassigning or terminating employees or members who refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Valley Health is focused on the safety of our patients, caregivers, and community; requiring the COVID vaccine for healthcare workers is broadly endorsed by public health and infectious disease experts. Given the over 3.5 billion doses administered worldwide and irrefutable safety data, not requiring our caregivers to be vaccinated would be irresponsible.
“Valley Health has received clear legal guidance that it is firmly within its rights as an employer to require vaccination for its employees. This view has been recently affirmed by two separate federal judges.
“We are concerned that these baseless efforts to come between Valley Health and its employees will only delay vaccination and impact the safety of staff, patients, and the community.”
This story may be updated as additional information become available.
Train continues to block access to property, could be more than 25 hours before train moves
The train came to a stop at approximately 9:00 pm on July 20, 2021, near the crossing at Dismal Hollow Road and Rt 624. Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler says “Enough is enough, I’m tired of the railroad holding the county hostage by blocking access to property.” He said that the train might not move until 10:00 p.m. on July 21, 2021, a period of 25 hours.
Butler has contacted the railroad and received the name and address of the CEO and will issue a ticket, and will do so each day until the train is moved. Butler asks that county residents write their congressmen and senators.
Another problem: local law enforcement has no authority over railroads. The FRA and the Virginia State Corporation Commission are the only two agencies that can enforce railroad-related rules.
Fining railroads under Virginia law has proved difficult, as railroads argue the rule could have the unintended effect of requiring a crew to violate other federal safety requirements like air brake testing and crew changes.
Blocked crossings pose potential safety risks, specifically in locations where trains routinely hinder roadway and pedestrian movement for extended periods. Frustrated drivers may attempt to clear the crossing before a train arrives. Likewise, pedestrians may be tempted to crawl between stopped railcars. Further, blocked crossings make people late for work, school, and appointments, and contribute to roadway congestion.
The new FRA Blocked Crossing webpage, www.fra.dot.gov/blockedcrossings, requests specific information from users reporting blocked crossings— including date, time, location, and duration.
Statutory authority for Railroad Regulation is outlined in Title 56, Chapter 13, of the Code of Virginia. Use the RR Blocked Crossing/Incident Report (Adobe PDF) form to provide the information required to initiate an investigation.
The only legitimate authority to regulate blocked crossings is the federal government. Multiple times in the past the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has been requested to begin the rule-making process to determine effective measures to regulate blocked crossings. Federal Railroad Safety Authorization Act of 1994 (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. § 20101 et seq. (2000), is the main source of the railroad industry’s contention that state and local laws are not enforceable.
Here is the Virginia code that Sheriff Butler referenced:
§ 56-412.1. Railroad cars obstructing street or road; standing vehicle on railroad track.
It shall be unlawful for any railroad company, or any receiver or trustee operating a railroad, to obstruct for a longer period than five minutes the free passage on any street or road by standing cars or trains across the same, except a passenger train while receiving or discharging passengers, but a passway shall be kept open to allow normal flow of traffic; nor shall it be lawful to stand any wagon or other vehicle on the track of any railroad which will hinder or endanger a moving train; provided that when a train has been uncoupled, so as to make a passway, the time necessarily required, not exceeding three minutes, to pump up the air after the train has been recoupled shall not be included in considering the time such cars or trains were standing across such street or road. Any such railroad company, receiver or trustee, violating any of the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500; provided that the fine may be $100 for each minute beyond the permitted time but the total fine shall not exceed $500.
This section shall not apply when the train is stopped due to breakdown, mechanical failure or emergency.
Click the links below for information on how to contact your representatives:
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: Eastern Ratsnake
This snake is the longest patient we have EVER had in care at a whopping 6’ 4”! He is also the heaviest at 1.32kg (nearly 3 pounds). His impressive size made swallowing a ceramic egg quite an easy feat.
Intake radiographs (see below) confirmed our suspicion that the foreign body palpated in the stomach was a fake egg, often used in chicken coops to show hens where to lay or to teach them not to pick at and destroy their own eggs.
Luckily, this snake was found very quickly after ingestion, before any damage had been done to the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). As the egg was still mobile in the tract, we were able to remove it under anesthesia, but without surgery. Though we receive one or two of these cases each year, this is the first time we were able to remove the egg manually after a thorough exam to ensure it was safe to do so.
In most cases, by the time these snakes are contained and brought in for care, there has been severe damage to the GIT and tissue death in that area, often resulting in cases where segments of the skin or GIT must be surgically removed. Please do not remove foreign bodies manually in snakes unless you are well-trained to do so as it can cause excessive damage and even death if done improperly.
Luckily, this patient has recovered well and has now been released after just over two weeks in care.
If you use fake eggs to show chickens where to lay or to prevent them from breaking their own eggs, consider gluing multiple fake eggs together so that snakes cannot ingest them. Nail wooden eggs to the coop itself to accomplish the same goal. Or, use a real egg that you mark and switch out periodically. Most importantly, secure your coop!
Snakes are often underappreciated for the important ecosystem services they provide. In addition to eating the occasional egg, many snakes prevent disease spread by keeping rodent populations (and the ticks they carry) in check, snakes serve as important predators, but also as important prey species for larger predators. If you see a snake in your yard, give it space, take a photo, and leave it alone – humans are the biggest and scariest of predators!
Virginia’s first lady visits ‘Like Arrows Learning Center’ in Front Royal
Virginia’s First Lady Pam Northam visited the Like Arrows Learning Center in Front Royal on July 21, 2021, as part of Childcare Access Month. The Royal Examiner’s camera was there for her visit. Our publisher Mike McCool spoke to the First Lady about her passion for early childhood education. He also spoke with Stacy Williams, the Director of the Like Arrows Learning Center.
Her visit comes as the state is expanding access to affordable childcare. For more information, visit Child Care VA.
The Child Care Subsidy Program assists families in paying child care costs for children under age 13 who are not eligible to attend public school during the part of the day when public education is available, or children with special needs under age 18 who reside with the applicant. If you are eligible and are approved for services, the Subsidy Program can pay a portion of your child care costs directly to the child care provider.
Like Arrow Learning Center is a state-licensed child day center providing quality care through their Infant Program to their PreK Program as well as Before and After School for K-5th grade.