VCU Health Community Memorial Health

Meet our new Rheumatologist: Joshua Gavin, D.O.

Dr. Gavin is the new rheumatologist on the first floor of the C.A.R.E. Building, next to VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, in South Hill.

South Hill, VA (9/17/21) – Over 46 million people in the United States are living with rheumatic disease, the most common cause of joint pain and loss of mobility. Some of the more frequently found examples of these conditions include: OsteoarthritisRheumatoid ArthritisLupus, OsteoporosisPsoriatic Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, GoutTendinitis, and Bursitis.

We just opened a new rheumatology practice located on the first floor of our C.A.R.E. Building, next to VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, in South Hill. We invite you to learn more about Rheumatology at our next virtual Community Out-Reach Education program on September 28, 2021, at noon via Zoom. Visit vcuhealth.org/cmh-core for the link.

This week we sat down with Joshua Gavin, D.O., and asked him a few questions.

What is Rheumatology?

A medical science devoted to the study of rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders. Rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders are diverse and include autoimmune disorders, inflammatory arthritides, noninflammatory arthritides, diffuse and local soft tissue disorders, injuries, and osteoporosis.

Why did you choose the field of Rheumatology?

I took an elective in medical school and was intrigued learning about different organ systems and how rheumatologic conditions impact the entire body. I learned the evolution of different treatments and really enjoyed improving my patients’ quality of life.

What is your goal for this community?

I want to provide accessible, high-quality care for patients of this community who suffer from rheumatic and musculoskeletal disorders.

What is your philosophy of care?

I hope to provide compassionate and individualized patient care through building meaningful healing relationships with my patients over time by delivering patient-centered care. As the treatment options for rheumatologic diseases continue to advance, I believe better education and shared decision-making strategies will help my patients make better treatment options and live a healthier life.

How would you describe your bedside manner?

I’ve been told I am optimistic and approachable.

What are your qualifications?

I am board certified in Internal Medicine and earned my Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri. I completed an Internal Medicine residency from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. I also completed a Rheumatology fellowship at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia. I am a member of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology.

What would you like patients to know about you?

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but mostly grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have lived in Texas, Kansas and Missouri. I currently live in Chester with my wife and two dogs. My family lives all over the country including Florida, New Mexico and Tennessee. I enjoy cooking, travel, playing tennis poorly, and visiting new restaurants and breweries.

How does someone make an appointment with you?

Most often my patients are referred by their primary care physician or other specialists. But if someone is new to the area with an existing rheumatic diagnosis or seeking a second opinion please call (434) 584-2273 to make an appointment.

Local Kids Get Vaccinated in the Fight Against COVID

South Hill, VA (6/14/21) – On Friday, June 4, kids age 12 and older took advantage of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s (VCU Health CMH) last first-dose COVID vaccine clinic. Pfizer is the only vaccine that is approved for ages 12 - 17 at this time. They’ll be able to come back for the second shot, but no more first doses will be given due to the vaccine being widely available now in so many other places.

Alice Wells, of La Crosse, got her first COVID vaccine dose.

Thirteen-year-old Alice Wells, of La Crosse, said, “It felt great to get the shot and not have to worry about catching COVID anymore. My arm was sore for a day, but that’s about it. I’m ready to get back to in-person school and skeet shooting with the 4-H Club in Chase City.”

She lives in a multi-generational family and her family members all got the shot when it first became available to them.

Her father, Robert Wells, said, “Alice is a ‘no-fear’ child and we didn’t have to do any convincing. We are all ready to get back to some sense of normalcy after the year of lockdown.”

Morgan Evans, of South Hill, got her first COVID vaccine dose.

Fourteen-year-old Morgan Evans, of South Hill, said, “I feel good; my arm was sore for about two days. I’ve been doing virtual school so I’m looking forward to going back in the fall and hanging out with my friends.”

Her grandmother, Carolyn House, said, “Morgan is an honor roll student – kids don’t do as well learning on the computer so I know she’s looking forward to bringing up her grades.”

If you still need to get your shot, it’s not too late. See your primary care provider for more information. If you need a primary care provider, call (434) 584-2273 to make an appointment. COVID Vaccines are readily available at local pharmacies and you can check vaccines.gov to find a location near you.

Annual Nursing Award Winners at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital

On May 12, VCU Health CMH celebrated its 2021 Nursing Award recipients.

South Hill, VA (6/3/21) – On May 12, VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) celebrated its 2021 Nursing Award recipients. Hospital employees and family members gathered on the chilly afternoon in the Healing Garden amidst a light rain and honored the legacy of VCU Health CMH nursing professionals by whose namesake the awards were created. Recipients received a certificate, a bouquet of flowers and an engraved award. Attendees celebrated the winners with cupcakes.

Yolanda Sallie, of South Hill, won the Dee McMillan Nurse Partner Award. Yolanda is a Care Partner in Acute Care.

In her nomination, a co-worker wrote, “Yolanda is always willing to help no matter what is asked of her. She is flexible and transitions easily. She treats everyone equally, makes sure that care is ethical and that each patient is treated by her with a non-judgmental, dignified and caring attitude. She is careful to respect everyone while communicating the needs and promoting the well-being of the patient. Yolanda is committed to every patient being cared for and all tasks being completed and goes as far as to help other care partners with their duties to ensure they are completed on shift. She always has a smile and an amazing attitude, which helps establish a positive atmosphere.”

Amy Lacks, LPN, of Kenbridge, earned the Carol Love Practical Nursing Award. Amy is a nurse for CMH Home Health and Hospice.

Her nomination said, “Amy values her relationships with providers, patients, patients’ family members and her fellow team members. As a result, her customer service is always top notch and frequently includes her going above and beyond the duties of her job. She has been witnessed advocating for patients on numerous occasions. Team members and patients feel comfortable and trust her. Many team members have been observed stating that Amy cannot have a day off because ‘they don’t know what they are going to do without her.’ Amy is promoting professional growth by pursing her LPN to RN-BSN. She is the very first LPN at VCU Health CMH to pursue her LPN to RN in this manner and has paved the way for others like her to include institution of a clinical model here at CMH that supports her program requirements.”

Alfreda Brown, RN, BSN, of Boydton, received the Alice Tudor Professional Nursing Award. Alfreda is the Hospice Clinical Coordinator.

Her supervisor said, “Alfreda is a respected leader among her peers and her commitment to excellence can easily be recognized in her day-to-day work. She has fostered relationships with her team members and developed a trust among them that enables her the unique ability to influentially teach and educate. Team members have come to rely on her as a support and have verbalized a sense of security from her commitment to them. I have observed her quickly jump in to see patients when staffing was short, work after hours to support new team members during an emergency admission and juggle the ever-changing world of COVID with a continued smile on her face. During recent ice storms, she tirelessly worked to contact patients and families and ensure that their medical needs were able to be met. She approaches the hard-to-answer questions surrounding terminal illness with an openness and honesty that is appreciated and valued by patients and their loved ones.”

A recording of the awards ceremony can be viewed on YouTube at youtu.be/xRCOjrJUM6g. Congratulations to the winners!

Lifelong Nurse Followed Her Calling to Emergency Department Manager

Tammy Mull, BSN, RN, CEN, of Boydton, recently accepted the ED Manager position at VCU Health CMH.

South Hill, VA (5/26/21) – Tammy Mull, BSN, RN, CEN, grew up in Mecklenburg County. She is the daughter of two hard working parents who instilled in her the drive to help people. She felt the calling to be a nurse as a young child. The first in her family to go to college, she completed nursing school at Virginia Commonwealth University. Tammy worked at VCU Medical Center for thirteen years in pediatrics and the pediatric emergency room. In 1995 she moved back to South Hill for an Emergency Department (ED) staff nurse role at Community Memorial Hospital. Eventually, VCU Health affiliated with CMH, so she found her way back to her VCU roots. After several promotions, Tammy recently accepted the ED Manager position.

Her favorite part of her job is the people, whether it be a team member or a patient. She is passionate about nursing, believes in treating all people with respect and puts herself in their shoes.

“However technical nursing may be, we cannot forget the caring,” she said. “I am very proud of the ER team we have at VCU Health CMH. They practice with passion and caring.”

This past year has been especially trying for emergency room nurses.

“It was an uncertain time for the community and world,” explained Tammy. “Everyone came together to treat the unknown with the ever-present fear of contracting COVID. We followed CDC and Health Department guidelines, which changed constantly.”

Tammy is board certified in emergency nursing and is an active member of the Emergency Nurses Association. She holds several emergency and trauma certifications and has helped lead multiple new initiatives in the ED.

One project focuses on moving less-sick patients through the ER in a timely manner. By making changes in staffing and working with patient flow data, they’ve been able to track a significant decrease in patients leaving without treatment.

“We do not want any patients to sit for extended lengths of time, waiting to be seen by the ER physician,” Tammy explained. “Our focus is to see everyone and treat them timely and efficiently.”

The second project’s goal is to admit patients in a timely manner.

“We worked with the hospitalists and inpatient units to redefine our process,” she said. “We’ve been able to reduce the time it takes to admit patients. Ultimately, our goal is to do what is best for our patients. We are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The nurse manager role is a new position at VCU Health CMH. One of her main duties will be overseeing the daily operations of the ED. While this may seem like a daunting task for most, Tammy has the experience to do it well. Her biggest adjustment has been moving toward a business professional attire from nursing clinical scrubs to support the nurse manager role.  

“I’ve been wearing scrubs since 1982 and now I have to wear business casual. Each morning is a struggle to pick out my clothes. I see a shopping trip in my near future,” she joked.

Tammy and her husband live in Boydton in a log cabin on 25 acres of land. Her hobbies are reading, cooking, and spoiling grandchildren.

“We have been blessed with two children and four grandchildren,” Tammy said. “Everyone lives in the surrounding area. VCU Health CMH is the hospital for my family.”

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s April, 2021, Team Member of the Month

VCU Health CEO Scott Burnette and Executive Assistant Sandra Noel

South Hill, VA (5/14/21) – For the past six years, Sandra Noel has worked at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) as an Executive Assistant to CEO Scott Burnette. She’s well known in the office and handles a little bit of everything, but mostly serves as the face of administration.

When the COVID vaccine clinics opened at the old hospital, Sandra helped check patients in at registration, escorted them to the vaccination area and answered questions. VCU Health CMH awarded Sandra with the April Team Member of the Month award for STAR service. STAR stands for Safety, Teamwork, Accountability and Relationships. Sandra received the STAR service award, STAR pin, a parking tag that allows her to park wherever she wants for the month of May and a $40 gift card.

“Sandra always made patients feel welcomed and at ease,” said Joanne Malone, Clinical Quality Analyst, on her nomination form. “Daily Sandra provides excellent customer service above and goes beyond the call of duty for everyone she meets, always with a kind word and a genuine smile. Sandra’s caring nature and cheerful personality make her a valuable asset at VCU Health CMH.”

“She is very conscientious about helping wherever she can and provides great customer service,” said Mr. Burnette. “She is a great role model for STAR service.”

“The COVID vaccine clinics were a wonderful experience,” said Sandra. “The patients were so glad to be getting their vaccination, it was uplifting. I was humbled to receive this award; I felt like I was just doing my job.”

Sandra is a firm believer in team effort. “You can’t do anything by yourself,” she said. “It takes a team; lean on others.”

Sandra lives in Valentines and is working on her bachelor’s degree in health care administration. She comes from an extensive background in the insurance industry, where she worked 36 years as an agent. She has a granddaughter in Elizabeth City who is the apple of her eye.

The only other nominee for April was Tracy Bailey in the C.A.R.E. offices.

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

South Hill, VA (5/17/21) - About 25 million U.S. citizens live with asthma. And more than 50 million suffer from allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) promotes National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month in May.

Asthma is a long-term disease that causes your airways to become inflamed, resulting in coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing and chest pain. While a cure does not yet exist, it can be managed by minimizing risks, taking medications as prescribed and knowing what to do if you have an attack, like carrying a rescue inhaler.

Physicians look at medical history, conduct an exam, perform lung-function tests and may order an X-ray to determine what type of asthma you have and develop a treatment plan that is best for you, including medications and ways to avoid things that may set it off.

CMH Pulmonology Services offers effective treatment for individuals with asthma. Indu Shivaram, MD, is board certified in pulmonary medicine, critical care medicine and internal medicine. “We help our patients get healthy and stay healthy through education, lifestyle changes and access to the latest treatments and therapies. We also will work with you to create a personalized care plan for your long-term health,” she said.

Allergies are twice as common as asthma. Some peoples’ immune systems deal with specific allergens by producing an antibody that results in an allergic reaction. Symptoms range from annoyances like watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, a rash or hives to more serious swelling in the throat that restricts the airway.

Doctors review your medical history, perform an examination and run a series of tests to identify which allergens make you sensitive. Treatment can include avoidance, medication and immunotherapy.

CMH ENT offers evaluation and treatment for environmental allergies. Saleem Naviwala, MD, is a board-certified Otolaryngologist. “We use a patient-focused approach, providing allergy testing and administration of allergy shots for patients ages 10 and up,” Dr. Naviwala said.

To make appointments with CMH Pulmonology Services or CMH ENT, call (434) 584-2273. For more information on services visit VCU-CMH.org.

The Pharmacy Connection

South Hill, VA (5/11/21) – VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) has offered a medication assistance program since 2003. This valuable service is given at no cost to qualifying patients with little to no insurance. The Pharmacy Connection is part of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital's commitment to the citizens of the communities they serve.

To honor that commitment, they’ve just hired a new Medication Enrollment Coordinator, serving as a liaison between drug manufacturers, physicians and qualifying patients. Meet Kim Bannister, LH, PC Agent, of Skipwith. She’s always had a job in the medical field. She spent 11 years in the military medical corps. She sold health insurance for 15 years and then worked for the Southside Health District for another 10 years as the Medical Reserve Coordinator. She worked closely with VCU Health CMH during her time at the health department and remembers referring clients to the Pharmacy Connection program. Because of the time she spent in other people’s homes selling insurance, she understands the hardships people face, having to choose between paying the heating bill or paying for medications.

Kim has two daughters who are married, one grandson, and another grandchild on the way. She enjoys sports and has spent years umpiring and coaching baseball and softball. She still volunteers for the medical reserve corps with disaster relief and provides training about infection prevention for churches, nursing homes and day cares.

How does The Pharmacy Connection work?

VCU Health CMH's Pharmacy Connection utilizes software provided through the Virginia Health Care Foundation that includes information on more than 7,000 medications. Many prescription drug manufacturers have patient assistance programs for uninsured, low-income patients. This software helps the patient cut through the red tape reducing time, assisting with applications, eligibility, tracking, refills, reports and ultimately helping more low-income, chronically-ill patients get the medications they need to stay healthy. Most patients get the medications at a reduced rate or at no cost to them up to one year and then they have to reapply, and the Pharmacy Connection helps them do that.

Eligibility is based on household income and pharmaceutical manufacturers’ guidelines.  The Virginia Health Care Foundation has a special category of grants for medication assistance called RxRelief Virginia, which is available because of an appropriation from Virginia’s Governor and General Assembly. In FY20, RxRelief Virginia helped 12,063 uninsured Virginians from 75 localities obtain $104 million in free, or low-cost medicines and supplies utilizing only $1.6 million in state funds.

All of the major classes of medication are included, covering chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to hypertension, clinical depression to asthma and more. Since its 1997 launch, The Pharmacy Connection has generated more than $6.3 billion in free medications for more than 351,000 sick, uninsured Virginians via more than 5.3 million prescriptions. Visit www.vhcf.org for more information.

How do I know if I qualify?

While there are general income guidelines, many manufacturers qualify patients on a case-by-case basis.

Who do I call?

VCU Health CMH's Pharmacy Connection is administered through the CMH Foundation. Patients can be referred by their primary care physician. The number for patients to call for more information or to schedule an appointment is (434) 447-0856. The Pharmacy Connection is open Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. by appointment only.

National Stroke Awareness Month

VCU Health CMH Stroke Program Coordinator Lisa Smith, RN, BSN, CICU

South Hill, VA (5/3/21) – A stroke happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die. There are three types of stroke: Ischemic is caused by a clot, Hemorrhagic is caused by a rupture and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" is caused by a temporary blockage.

About one in four stroke survivors is at risk for another stroke. Fortunately, almost 80 percent of second clot-related strokes may be preventable. Managing high blood pressure and discussing medicines with your physician are two options. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

Learn the FAST warning signs:

F- Face Drooping
A -Arm Weakness
S -Speech Difficulty
T- Time to call 911

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) is a Primary Stroke Center deemed by The Joint Commission and American Stroke Association. The quality of care they provide meets the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.

VCU Health CMH also earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Stroke Program Coordinator Lisa Smith, RN, BSN, CICU, said, “Our team has worked very hard to achieve these goals and we are so proud to meet these requirements to have better outcomes for our stroke patients.”

Visit vcu-cmh.org for more information.

National Women’s Health Week

Terry Wootten, RN, MSN, CNM, of CMH Women’s Health Services.

South Hill, VA (5/4/21) – May 9-15 is National Women’s Health Week. Starting with Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and those who are like mothers to us because of their selfless acts of service and unconditional love they give their families and others.

“Women make sure everyone else is healthy but can’t find time for themselves,” said Terry Wootten, RN, MSN, CNM, of CMH Women’s Health Services. “Women wear so many hats and play so many roles inside and outside the family, that they put themselves last and do not take care of themselves. It’s time to encourage the women in our lives to take care of themselves because they deserve it.”

Especially because of the past year with the pandemic, a lot of women are feeling exhausted, mentally strained and lonely, despite being around their families. They haven’t been able to relax and recharge by getting together with friends. Be creative this Mother’s Day and give the women in your life the time to do what they need to do safely, however that works best for them.

Make sure they are taking care of themselves from a physical standpoint. Skin and cervical cancer screenings should be part of an annual physical, along with blood work to check for cholesterol and blood pressure screenings for heart health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 45. Osteoporosis is a real challenge for women. Bone density testing should begin no later than age 65 – sooner if there are risk factors.

We recommend that women participate in these screenings because we selfishly want to keep them around to be there for us. All the screenings listed above can be completed right here in South Hill with VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital. Call (434) 584-2273 to make an appointment with a primary care provider or specialist and visit vcu-cmh.org for more information on services.

Happy National Women’s Health Week and thanks to all women for everything you do!

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