Veterans in Need Receive Support This Holiday Season
Veteran's receiving services at the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Georgetown Delaware were the recipients of an overwhelming outpouring of support this holiday season.
Gifts were purchased for 136 individuals, 43 Veterans and 76 children through a holiday gift giving program. The program was spearheaded by Pat Caldwell the Voluntary Service Officer for the Wilmington VA Medical Center. Ms. Caldwell worked with community sponsor Citi, and Veteran Service organizations including Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Legion and the Legion Auxillary. Many in the Wilmington VA Medical Center community also contributed including, various medical center departments, the Cape May NJ Community Based Outpatient Clinic, and individual employees who donated to the program as family projects. A total of over $14,000.00 in gifts for our Veterans was donated.
Veterans in need were identified by social workers in each facility. Social workers are often privy to those who have needs and, because of this program were able to facilitate answering those needs. The holidays can be emotionally difficult times for many to include Veterans. To Veterans in need, 24 hour emergency crisis assistance is available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Thank you to all who supported our Veterans and thanks to Veterans for serving our country.
One of Our Own
It’s always good to hear from our fellow VA employees who are currently deployed and working as active duty reservists or guardsmen. We recently heard from Timothy Stoeckle, a Biomedical Engineer and Air Force Guardsman.
We sure hope Tim and all his teammates have a successful and safe mission. We’re all looking forward to his return home!
Designing a Winning Poster
The Challenge: Develop a poster reflecting how the Wilmington VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center (CLC) is a home instead of an institution. The Solution: A team of one nurse and two nursing assistants. Sabriya Sabur, Renita Wilson and Amy Richardson created a poster in just two weeks that won second place in a contest encompassing 107 posters from 58 VA Medical Centers and 400 VA CLC staff. Their second place win earned them an Honorable Mention at the National Nursing Assistant Patient-Centered Educational Conference held in Albuquerque, New Mexico September 13-16, 2010.
The conference’s purpose was to empower nursing assistants to put into action practices common to the Holistic Approach to Transformational Culture Change model (HATCh) – a framework for transforming nursing homes from institutional to patient-centered care. HATCh inspires nursing assistants to get more involved in Cultural Transformation through involvement with CLC residents. The posters fell into one of four categories: Workplace practices, Care practices, Environment of Care and Age-Appropriate Care and were judged on originality, presentation and relevance to HATCh.
Wilmington CLC’s tri-fold poster used a red, white and blue theme with a border of flags and stars. The poster reflected photos of residents engaged in various activities and included a list of objects, goals and measureable outcomes. The photos also had captions giving brief statements of how things are done in our CLC.
The Wilmington VA team members felt the conference was very inspirational and remarked: “We felt appreciated for what we do.”
Senator Tom Carper Marks Suicide Prevention Week
Senator Tom Carper recognized Suicide Prevention Week at the Dover, Delaware Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) Friday, September 10, 2010. VA staff presented a Suicide Prevention and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) program. Charles Dorman, Wilmington VA Medical Center Director and the Delaware National Guard were also on hand.
The Dover CBOC works with the Delaware Department of Labor, the Division of Substance Abuse and the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team. Other partners include Bayhealth, Beebe and Nanticoke Hospitals, local emergency shelters, Dover Behavioral Health and the Delaware Commission on Veterans Affairs.
Dave Parsons, Suicide Prevention Case Manager, presented the Suicide Prevention Program’s goal: “To improve our ability to identify Veterans before, during and after an emotional crisis… to prevent suicides.” The VA’s “Flag List” tool and Computerized Patient Record System help identify and assess Veterans at high risk for suicide.
The VA’s mobile Suicide Prevention Program provides outreach activities. Mr. Parsons noted, “Our mobility has been an asset in assisting Veterans needing hospital admissions…in an emotional or physical crisis.” PTSD symptoms can include insomnia, anxiety, headaches, nightmares, depression, and alcohol or drug abuse.
More information about PTSD is available from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Center for PTSD and the American Psychological Association. The VA Mental Health webpage is www.mentalhealth.va.gov. The VA Suicide Prevention Hotline is (800) 273-TALK (8255); press 1 for Veterans.
Dave Parsons, Suicide Prevention Case Manager, presented the Suicide Prevention Program's goal
Senator Tom Carper speaks to those in attendance
Ventnor CBOC News: We're Moving!
The Ventnor VA Outpatient Clinic is moving to Northfield, New Jersey. The new clinic will be located at 1909 New Road in Northfield. It will be up & running by the summer of 2011.
It took a while to find a place that works, but we think it was well-invested time. The positives?
Special thanks to New Jersey's own Congressman LoBiondo for being a strong supporter of our efforts to get this done!
New Patriot Store Opens!
The Wilmington VA Medical Center proudly held a Grand Opening for the new Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) Retail Store September 2, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. to a crowd of well-wishers. Mr. Charles Dorman, FACHE & Director of the Wilmington VAMC and Mr. James Parker, VCS Regional Manager welcomed visitors, Veterans and staff to the event.
Also present were representatives from WiAction LLC, the disabled Veteran-Owned construction firm engaged to build the Retail Store. The new store was completed in just a few months and the expanded, handicap-accessible space features new products, a new “television wall” display and highlights products for women Veterans.
The spectacular celebration cake and carved fruit baskets were gone in minutes as shoppers enjoyed the selections and look and feel of the new VCS Retail Store.
VCS & VA staff share ribbon cutting honor. (From left to right: Jennifer Anderson, VCS Assistant Chief; Mary Alice Johnson, Associate Director for Patient Care Services; Charles Dorman, Wilmington VAMC Director; Thomas Kohler, VCS Chief; and James Parker, VCS Regional Manager)
Kirona Cowan (left) and Marisol Muniz are ready at the new Retail Store checkout counter.
Veterans Canteen Staff proudly pose inside the new Retail Store. (From left to right: Marisol Muniz, Tom Kohler, Jennifer Anderson, Liz Michaels, Liz Messinger Barb Johnson, Regina James, James Parker, and Kirona Cowan)
VISN 4 Director Visits Wilmington VAMC
Mr. Michael Moreland, FACHE and VISN4 Director, visited the Wilmington VA Medical Center August 3, 2010. Mr. Moreland met with various staff and contractors during his visit and toured many of the recently renovated areas and several new construction areas.
The VISN Director was very complimentary of the high level of teamwork and dedication exhibited by Wilmington VA employees. He personally thanked staff for their support as the Medical Center moves into high gear in its $40 million dollar construction program to improve service to American Veterans.
Our own (Sgt.) Ken Butler poses with other troops in Afghanistan
New Police Cruiser
The Police Service has acquired a Chevy Impala sedan. The car is fully outfitted with police radio, siren & light bar, video patroller and “holder” for a laptop. The new addition reduces vehicle fuel consumption by two percent; the sedan gets more than 20 to the Police SUV’s 14 mpg. The Impala also allows for easier drivability and transport. The sedan is the Police’s primary vehicle while the SUV is used for backup.
VA Healthcare-VISN 4 Network Director honored with Presidential Rank Award
Michael E. Moreland, Network Director, VA Healthcare VISN 4 received the 2009 Meritorious Presidential Rank Award during a ceremony July 29, 2010 at the National Guard Association in Washington, DC. The award is one of the most prestigious honors for senior government executives.
There are two award categories: Distinguished and Meritorious. Award winners are nominated by their agency, evaluated by private citizens and approved by the President. The award program recognizes a record of achievement acknowledged throughout the recipient’s agency or on a (inter)national level. Recipients demonstrate strong leadership skills, inspire their employees and earn the respect of those they serve.
Moreland was honored for being an innovative leader who achieves results and consistently demonstrates strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in Veterans healthcare. His achievements include launching an independent liver and kidney transplant program and leading a national initiative to reduce Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infections.
“It is an honor for me to accept the prestigious 2009 Meritorious Presidential Rank Award and be recognized by the President for my career accomplishments and commitment to public service,” Moreland said. Moreland received the award in 2002 when he was the director of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
Moreland began his service with the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1980 as a clinical social worker. He oversees the operations, finances and clinical programs of a healthcare system serving an estimated 1.5 million Veterans in Pennsylvania and Delaware, and portions of West Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio and New York. VISN 4 consists of ten medical centers and 45 community-based outpatient clinics.
Moreland earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 1978 and his Master’s Degree in social work from the University of Maryland in 1980.
Re-Creation National Tour Visits the Wilmington VAMC Community Living Center
The 36th Troupe of Re-Creation performed for residents, staff, family, and friends in the Wilmington VAMC Community Living Center (CLC) on Wednesday afternoon, July 21, 2010. The group is cited by The Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge as “America’s Ambassadors to Hospitalized Veterans”. It was their second show since forming the troupe a month ago. The troupe is traveling to all fifty states spreading joy to our nation’s Veterans during the next year.
The Troupe dazzled the audience through song, dance, and elaborate costumes featuring the “Best of Broadway” during their hour-long variety show. The music such hits as “Memory” from the musical Cats, “Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera, and a medley from the musical Grease. The show ended with a patriotic medley honoring the sacrifices that our nation’s Veterans have given to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.
Tenth Annual VISN 4 VAVS Conference
The tenth annual VISN 4 VAVS Conference took place June 15-17, 2010 in Clarksburg, Virginia, hosted by the Louis A. Johnson VA Healthcare System. The conference focused on volunteer involvement in special programs, volunteer orientation and Voluntary Service procedures. Volunteers discussed the Volunteer Transportation Network, Welcome Home Events and the Homeless Veterans and Women Veterans Programs.
William E. Cox, Director, gave an overview of the Louis A. Johnson VA Healthcare System and presented Laura B. Balun, Director, Voluntary Services, VA Central Office, with a gift of appreciation for her leadership and support. Ms. Balun outlined Voluntary Service’s Fiscal Year 2010 priorities and discussed Cultural Transformation, stating some VA’s “have been very progressive with this new direction”.
Ronald M. Hestdaler, National Cemetery of the Alleghenies (NCA) Director stated the NCA serves approximately 323,000 veterans in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. John Lafferty, Wilmington VAMC Voluntary Specialist reviewed the volunteer orientation process and stressed the importance of documenting and maintaining training records. Robert Feldman, Erie VAMC volunteer presented My HealtheVet and Secure Messaging (SM), scheduled to be rolled out the end of 2010.
Conference attendees toured a Community Rural Health Care Program Mobile Clinic, a self-contained mobile unit. Tom Gallagher and Wesley Walls, Public Affairs Specialists, guided a tour of the Louis A. Johnson VAMC and West Virginia State Veterans Nursing Home. Mr. Gallagher received a token of appreciation for coordinating the VISN 4 VAVS Conference.
We are always looking for ways to improve access. One of those is rebuilding one of our entrances, a project we're working on now.
The following drawings are "Before & After" of what the southwest entrance, (where Valet Parking is) looks like now and a conceptual drawing of how it may look after its redesigned and built.
We'll keep you posted on our progress!
Safe Use of Acetaminophen
Acetaminophen is one of the most widely used over-the-counter (OTC) medications in the United States for treatment of mild to moderate pain and fever. Acetaminophen, commonly known by the brand name "Tylenol", is also found in combination with other active ingredients for treating pain, cold, allergies, and sleeplessness. The maximum recommended dose for adults is 4000mg (4 grams) per day, for infants and children 40-90 mg/kg/day based on age.
Acetaminophen overdose is the most frequent cause of serious liver injury in the U.S. Many accidental overdoses occur when people unknowingly take multiple acetaminophen-containing products. Signs and symptoms of overdose are nonspecific and include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and a vague feeling of body aches. Acetaminophen overdose is serious and should be treated as a medical emergency.
What can you as a consumer do to protect yourself from an accidental acetaminophen overdose? Talk with your health care provider about your medications, to include OTC remedies. Ask your Pharmacist for advice when selecting OTC medicines for cold, allergies, sleep or pain. Keep track of the doses of acetaminophen you have taken to avoid exceeding maximum daily dose.
The Wilmington VA Medical Center formally broke ground on two key construction jobs; the OEF/OIF & Speciality Clinics and Emergency Department Projects. Medical Center Leadership was joined by political representatives from Senators Kaufman, Carper, and Congressman Castle's office. Delaware State Senator Colin Bonini also attended. Several representatives (and the owner) of Homeland Security Construction Corporation also participated in the Groundbreaking Ceremony.
The Emergency Department Project builds a 10,000 square foot addition and renovates & upgrades another 5,000 square feet of existing space, including parking, walkways, and the ambulance drop-off area. The project's budget is $4,209,000.
The Specialty Clinic Expansion Project (OEF/OIF & Women's Health) also represents a $2,895,000 investment. The project ensures our ability to meet the need's of today's and tommorrow's Women Veterans.
The Director presented commemorative plaques to the attendees and invited them to a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the projects are completed.
Change to Medication Copays for Some Veterans
Prescription copayments increase from $8 to $9 for each 30-day supply of outpatient medications for Veterans with higher incomes and no service-connected disabilities (Priority Groups 7 and 8).
The change does not impact Priority Groups 2 through 6 Veterans. Their copay remains $8 for each 30-day supply of medications for their non-service connected conditions unless otherwise exempted. Priority Groups 2 through 6 Veteran's out-of-pocket expenses for VA outpatient medications is capped at $960 per calendar year.
Veterans with an injury or illness connected with their military service resulting in a disability rated 50 percent or greater (Priority Group 1 Veterans) are exempt from the copay.
Veterans with difficulty paying outpatient medications copayments should discuss the matter with their VA enrollment coordinator, Contact VA at 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visit VA's health elgibility Website at www.va.gov/healthelgibility.
Wilmington VAMC Building Progress
We are in one of the most expansive construction programs in our history. This year’s program is a tenfold increase over last year. Thirty-three projects are or will be awarded this year.
The construction at the front and side of the main building is the new 10,000 square foot Emergency Department (ED). The project is building a new triage area, secure holding and isolation rooms, and expanding bed capacity from four beds to eleven to meet demand and improve patient flow.
A separate project adds a third floor to the Clinical Addition and consolidates the OEF/OIF and Women Veterans’ Healthcare programs.
We are designing a 10,000 square foot Hospice and Palliative Care Addition to provide enhanced end of life care in a comforting, home-like setting.
Other projects include new interior and exterior signage, extending the Clinical Addition elevators, repairing sidewalks and curbs, building a walking trail with exercise stations, and a new outdoor pavilion.
Several infrastructure & renovation projects improve our chiller and boiler plants, while others replace the Medical Center’s cooling tower and air handlers.
It’s a very busy year and we’re looking forward to it! Come back often for new pictures and updates as we make progress!
Weekend Excitement at VW Jetta TDI Cup
Joshua Fry, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and an employee of the Wilmington VA Medical Center won two tickets to the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup held at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ on May 8 and 9. Josh, a racing enthusiast, was invited to attend the event as military Guest of Honor by A. J. Nealey, race car driver, competitor and supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project.
It started with A.J. getting in touch with Wilmington’s Voluntary Service Officer, Pat Caldwell. He asked if she knew a veteran who would like to be his guest. Pat suggested Josh, who has been into racing most of his life, although he never raced himself. Josh, a big fan of quarter-mile races (he prefers the more low-key races to NASCAR), was thrilled to be asked. Josh, his brother, father and four year-old nephew were given a tour of the hospitality suite, the technical center and the garage that housed all the cars. Josh was presented with several gifts and invited to sign his name on one of the gold stars painted on the hood of A.J.’s car. During the races, a VW Shuttle van transported Josh and his family around the track to view the action from the best vantage points. Cars in different classes raced all weekend.
The Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup gears itself toward young, up-and-coming drivers between the ages of 16 and 26. They compete on road courses around North America in identical factory-prepared clean diesel Jetta TDI’s. This is A.J.’s last year in the race. He was sponsored by Volkswagen. A.J. came in 5th, up from 12th place in 2009. His racing career goal is to compete in the American Le Mans Series.
Delaware Military Heritage Banners
Throughout May the Wilmington VA Medical Center will be displaying banners from the Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation. The banners are in the first floor elevator lobby of the Medical Center and display information about Delaware’s military history and the foundation.
The Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation is a private nonprofit organization; their goals include preserving Delaware’s military history that dates from the 1600s to present day. The Foundation collects military artifacts (including insignia, uniforms, books, letters etc), gathers oral histories, and sponsors lectures and seminars to extend education about military history "so that coming generations will understand the values of courage, loyalty and responsibility that inspire such service." The Foundation is also working opening a Delaware Military Museum.
Executive Director Stephanie Przybylek came to help set up the banners. She stated that the Foundation wants to "create a facility to honor the veterans." Peg Tigue, Director of Development, added "We want them to know it’s all about them."
If you or your family has any materials related to Delaware’s military history, and would like to donate them, please contact the Delaware Military Heritage and Education Foundation by visiting MilitaryHeritage.org for more information about upcoming events.
2010 Nurses: Caring Today for a Healthier Tomorrow
Often described as an art and a science, nursing is a profession that embraces dedicated people with varied interests, strengths and passions because of the many opportunities the profession offers.
Nurses work in emergency rooms, school based clinics, and homeless shelters, to name a few. Nurses have many roles – from staff nurse to educator to nurse practitioner and nurse researcher – and serve all of them with passion for the profession and with a strong commitment to patient safety.
National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
New Coffee Shop
Thinking about a sip of frappuccino or a bite of a cinnamon chip scone? Whatever you fancy, your taste buds will be indulged with Starbucks beverages and baked goods from the coffeehouse. Located in the main lobby of the Wilmington VA Medical Center, the new café is serving basic Starbucks beverages with a variety of baked goods supplied by a Starbucks vendor. Salads and sandwiches will be provided by the Wilmington VAMC Canteen. Seasonal drinks promoting different holidays will be offered, with flavors changing throughout the year.
The "turning over the key" ceremony took place on April 14, 2010 with Network Director, Michael E. Moreland, FACHE and other VA officials present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The café's creation is a great example of VA teamwork. The team included Charles "Chuck" M. Dorman, FACHE and Director; Claude Lacombe, Acting Maintenance and Repair Supervisor; Thomas Kohler, Chief, Canteen Service; William England, Chief, Facilities and Engineering; and Mark Taylor, Engineering Technician. Mr. Dorman initiated the concept of a café similar to cafés that sell Starbucks brand beverages and baked goods in other VA medical centers.
Mr. England approached Mr. Lacombe with the idea, thinking a construction firm would need to be hired. After discussing it with him, they decided the Maintenance and Repair Section could handle the job. Mr. Lacombe and his group designated the area at the far end of the main lobby as an appropriate space and as they proceeded to design and build the café, Mr. Taylor acted as liaison between the Canteen service and Facilities. While fulfilling their daily hospital-related commitments, Mr. Lacombe’s group had the electricity, plumbing, carpentry, painting and other necessities done in three weeks. An outside contractor installed the new flooring.
With the long glass windows of the Outpatient Clinic radiating an atrium feel and the low foliage behind the glass providing privacy, the café extends an open, welcoming and relaxed ambience. The coffeehouse is being stocked and the planned opening date is scheduled for Thursday, April 22, 2010. The coffeehouse hours will be from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday thru Friday. Medical Center staff and visitors are welcome to stop by!
posted 4/15/10 ~ submitted by Julia Gill
VA Physician, Volunteer & Humanitarian
Immediately after the earthquake in Haiti caused massive damage to buildings and inhabitants, organizations worldwide mobilized to aid the country. The tragedy changed the face of Haiti and changed the perspectives of the volunteers who donated their time and expertise to help.
Dr. Enrique Guttin is the Chief of Staff at the Wilmington VA Medical Center as well as a surgeon. He is also a Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) volunteer.
This past February, Dr. Guttin got the "call to action", with little time to collect supplies, update his vaccinations and get ready to head to Haiti. He flew to Atlanta on February 5, 2010, just as the snow from one of the biggest storms of the 2009-2010 winter started to fall. He met a team there, many of whom had been called to disasters before. One member helped him identify some extra supplies he would need like energy bars, toilet paper and they bought candy that the team on the ground in Haiti had asked for.
Dr. Guttin left Atlanta the next day on a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plane for Haiti. The main "international" airport in Haiti is tiny and when he got there it was crowded with people, many of whom were volunteers as well. Every other available square foot was covered in crates with medical supplies, food, water, clothes and other essentials that were being shipped in continuously.
On his way to the hospital from the airport, Dr. Guttin viewed the scene of destruction, and it was staggering. Besides the broken buildings and ruptured streets, there were no municipal services to collect trash so it littered the ground in piles. The sewers were broken, and there was no running water or electricity. In every available clear space, tent cities arose, built with sticks and any foraged materials that could be found. One of the few buildings left standing was the American Embassy, rising high among all the rubble.
The field hospital where Dr. Guttin was assigned was located in the courtyard of a destroyed school. Next to the hospital was a large tent city which was located in a former slum. Although the country had been shaken by the damage, there was still looting and a very real risk of violence towards aid volunteers. Protecting the staff was a unit from the elite 82nd Airborne Division. Medics from the unit also helped take care of patients.
The field hospital was not a "bricks and mortar" building but a collection of tents. There were tents for Intensive Care, Pharmacy, the Surgical suite, the Operating room and separate tents for patient wards and bathrooms. Dr. Guttin and the other volunteers slept in a tent as well, in cots covered with mosquito netting. The days were intense. Staff rose at 5:00 a.m., and started the morning with a meeting at about 6:00 a.m. Rounds followed the meeting and doctors and nurses began seeing patients. Many of the Haitians that were seen in the hospital were returning for post-amputation care. Some were seen and sent home, others were admitted with various diseases including active tuberculosis.
Dr. Guttin treated one little girl who had lost half her foot in a collapsing building. She came every day for wound care. She was a staff favorite, even though she would not allow the doctors or nurses to touch her. She would unwrap her bandages and the staff would pass her the supplies to clean and re-bandage her wound.
In addition to the many patients who came with injuries and illness, women came to have babies. Since there were no maternity staff available, Dr. Guttin performed his first C-section in thirty-five years. In fact, it was an exclusively VA staff team from the surgeon to the anesthesiologist to the nurse.
To prepare for surgical cases, there was a small wash station with water that had been purified, as well as stations nearby the Surgery tent to prep surgical equipment. However, the wash station would flood when the used water overflowed, leaking water into nearby tents. Dr. Guttin and company were resourceful and not to be deterred. Dr. Guttin built a "field-expedient" irrigation system from a wash sink out of spare tubing and duct tape so the area around the hospital wouldn’t flood.
In addition to the surgical equipment, there were adequate supplies available to the team, although there were some equipment items the team needed, such as an X-ray machine. One came shortly before Dr. Guttin arrived; a gift from the actor Sean Penn, who personally had the portable machine flown in.
After the day’s patients had been seen, an evening meeting was held, followed by evening rounds. The staff dined on military rations known as MREs (Meal Ready to Eat). Many hospital staff ate only about half a ration at a time, as a MRE is designed for combat troops carrying heavy loads. Coffee cups were carved from leftover water bottles. At around 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. the volunteers would head to bed. However, sleep was not without its troubles.
Four diesel generators ran night and day providing power, but the noise and fumes made sleep difficult. "Using the facilities" meant filling and carrying a bucket of water from a wash station near the surgical tent, to prime the toilet because there was no running water. At night, Dr. Guttin’s only light source was a headpiece with a flashlight, making navigation difficult but providing a beacon for swarms of mosquitoes.
The trip was not without its rewards. Dr. Guttin found the people of Haiti to be a very stoic and dignified people. They were polite, always saying "thank you" to their caregiver. He spent almost two weeks in Haiti and was ready to stay longer. At the end of his tour, the field hospital was becoming a community hospital, and seeing more outpatients and less surgical cases.
Dr. Guttin came home with pictures and an extraordinary story. By volunteering his time and making a difference in the lives of both Veterans and anyone else in need, Dr. Guttin exemplifies what VA staff are all about.
posted 4/15/10 ~ submitted by Lauren Skomorucha
It’s spring. What comes to mind in spring? Well, for most people its warm weather, romance, gardening and (ugh) spring cleaning. For the Wilmington VA Medical Center, it’s the annual visit from a controversial, unsolicited couple – a pair of Canada Geese.
The geese are a topic of discussion and some debate. Why? Exit through the front entrance, turn right and look up. A black head with vigilant, beady eyes will be staring at you from her perch in the concrete planter. Sitting on her nest, Mama Goose will see you before you see her. You can get close to Mama, but not too close.
Canada geese are aggressive. They will defend their young and attack intruders if they feel threatened. A "Google search" on Canada geese yields the following: "... nest sites are located near water and often on islands. Nest sites are chosen to offer some protection from exposure to wind while giving the incubating female a clear line of sight to detect approaching predators." Hence, Mama perched high in the hard-to-reach planter. Getting back to why they’re controversial, Google also states that "geese drop a pound and a quarter of droppings per day per goose". Remember, the nest is at the main entrance and, at this point in time, there are only two geese... ‘nuff said.
Canada geese mate for life. If a mate dies, the surviving goose will find a new mate. They breed earlier in the season than other birds, often as early as March. Usually, four to seven eggs are laid. The incubation period lasts 25-33 days. During this period, the male is nearby standing guard in case the nest is threatened or the female leaves the nest. The female will leave the nest only for brief intervals to feed, drink and bathe. Female Canada geese will return each year to the vicinity where their parents nested, and they will usually use the same nest sites.
Aside from her intense, drill-like stare, Mama seems content. Take a look at her in her planter. It’s comical, heart-warming and affirming; the cycle of life begins anew.
It must be spring!
posted 3/31/10 ~ submitted by Julia Gill
VA Team More than a Match for Snowstorms
Despite dangerous conditions and innumerable inconveniences, the staff and volunteers of the Wilmington VA Medical Center went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the Veterans continued to get the excellent care they’ve earned. Delaware is slowly recovering from two major storms that dropped a total of over four feet of snow over much of the Delmarva area.
VA Medical Center staff worked extra shifts or remained at work throughout the declared state of emergency to provide coverage, while others braved the snowy and icy conditions to relieve those who had been on duty from twenty four to seventy two straight hours. The staff came together in adversity to maintain patient care services without interruption despite the havoc caused by the snowstorms.
Pat Caldwell, Chief of Voluntary Service, stayed at the hospital since 6:00 a.m. from Wednesday to Thursday, February 10-11. During her overnight stay she provided tea, coffee, and hot chocolate to the staff to warm their spirits. Pat also organized a friendly poker game with the residents of the Community Living Center. She stated that in a disaster like the snowstorm, "Everyone just works together."
Volunteers also made the trek in despite the weather. Ray Hiltner ventured to the hospital both Wednesday and Thursday to provide escort services, getting Veterans to where the needed to go in the Medical Center. Ray’s contribution of his time and effort greatly eased the pressure on other staff, allowing them to concentrate on other tasks.
Physical Therapy was on site throughout the storm, providing inpatient and outpatient services, including caring for one Veteran who came from downstate Delaware despite the conditions. Jeff Griffith, Physical Therapist, stated that he was "...glad we were here for him".
All around the facility, and with the snow and winds roaring outside, people who stayed the night slept where they could. Diana Bruce, Radiology Supervisor, said that the majority of their staff came in and decided to stay and provide support. She mentioned that "the whole hospital really pitched in," and that "we really are our own little family." She and other staff, including the Chiefs of Surgery and VA Police, one physician and the Medical Center Director made and delivered popcorn to those who had stayed over as a "thank you" for their contributions.
While the hospital made sleeping arrangements, Nutrition and Food Services made sure that everyone had plenty to eat. In addition to the inpatient meals, they ensured that those who had been working though the night received hot meals. The staff made meals for the grounds crew, which spent the duration of the storm shoveling and plowing the parking lots and walkways so that Veterans, staff and visitors could enter safely.
Two Pharmacists and a Pharmacy Tech also stayed to provide coverage. "Everybody pulled together and did a fantastic job." said Mary Cole, Assistant Pharmacy Chief.
Police officers made rounds and checked on both patients and staff. Officers Nate Brown and Dan Headley spent the night on Wednesday in order to be here Thursday morning. VA Police Chief Susan Noel stayed three days straight.
Pulling together was the common thread. Employees pitched in wherever they were needed, in addition to their regular jobs. Many offered rides to those who could not make to work. Some helped by clearing snow off fellow employees’ cars. Everyone pitched in and helped; and through dedicated teamwork, the Wilmington VA was able to accomplish its mission.
Throughout the interviews with staff and volunteers, the words "family" and "team" came up over and over. In the face of adversity, in this case, a large snowstorm, staff struggled to make it in, or stayed over to make sure that their areas had enough of what they needed to function. They worked together as a team, and a family, to continue to provide the caring and a warm environment for the Veterans entrusted to them.
posted 2/22/10 ~ submitted by Lauren Skomorucha
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