I am sure I will have some commentary on the outcome of the November 7 election in future columns, but as I write this column results are not yet known. No matter the outcome, I share the frustration experienced by many with the negativity that seems to inevitably overtake campaigns with high stakes. Political operatives who provide the advice upon which campaigns are planned continue to insist that negative advertising wins elections as it gets people’s attention and creates a fear or anger that moves voters to take part. I am not sure if anyone has measured how many people get turned off and decide not to vote because of the vicious ads.
Even more concerning to me than the half-truths and falsehoods that have slipped into campaigning is the cruelty that has moved into the operation of government. After years of complaining about the Affordable Care Act while in complete control of the Congress and now also the presidency, the Republicans have not been able to repeal and replace what they came to call Obamacare. The reason might simply be that provision of health care to all with coverage for pre-existing conditions in a developed nation is the right thing to do. Failing to achieve legislative success, the administration has set about trying to kill the program through administrative actions and neglect. That is where the cruelty sets in.
The first effort at killing the program came with an executive order to withhold subsidies which allowed insurance companies to keep premium increases to a minimum. With the loss of the subsidies, Anthem pulled out of Virginia in August leaving 60 jurisdictions with no insurer offering coverage; they reversed their action after intense efforts by Governor McAuliffe. The loss of federal support will be devastating in Virginia where 240,000 Virginians rely on subsidies to be able to afford insurance. There clearly must not be a lack of money in Washington with the huge tax cuts now being proposed for the very wealthy.
The cruelty does not end there. To reduce the program further the advertising budget to remind persons about open enrollment was slashed by 90 percent, and the time to enroll was reduced from 12 weeks to 6 weeks. The open enrollment started November 1 and will close on December 15. Tell anyone you know who might be eligible and spread the information through social media programs in which you participate that open enrollment ends on December 15.
A final crippling blow could be the administration announcement that it will not enforce the individual mandate that has been critical to keeping costs down by spreading the risk across a wide pool of participants. As though this is not enough, the Republican Congress and administration failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that provided care to 65,000 children and 1,100 pregnant mothers in Virginia. We have a new insurance program in place in this country; it is called Trumpcare. It is a very cruel system!
Last Day of School — Today is the final day of the 2016-17 Fairfax County Public Schools year. Congratulations to all the students and enjoy your time off!
Fourth of July Schedule in Herndon — It’s only a couple weeks away. Get ready for the July 4 celebration in Herndon, which will take place at the Herndon Community Center and will culminate with fireworks choreographed to music. [Town of Herndon]
SLHS Students Get Arduino Kits — STEM Engineering students at the school recently received Arduino kits. An Arduino consists of a physical programmable circuit board and a piece of software that is used to write and upload computer code. The kits were funded by a $4,000 grant from AIS Inc. [Fairfax County Public Schools]
‘Field Guide’ to Ticks — Fairfax County has provided a list of need-to-know information about ticks, which have been out with great force this season. [Fairfax County]
Metro Work in Evening Hours — After 10 p.m. tonight, Saturday and Sunday, the Silver Line will only run from Wiehle-Reston East to Ballston. This is due to work on the Orange and Silver lines. [WTOP]
Every day, hospitals in Northern Virginia have a lot of patients in need of what we all have — blood.
Monthly, an Inova Blood Donor Services bloodmobile comes to Reston Town Center to help collect precious inventory for those patients. The mobile service is at Reston Town Center today — and the fourth Tuesday of every month — from noon to 6 p.m.
“We encourage everybody to go out and donate,” said Wally Paraiso, mobile ops team leader for Inova Blood Donor Services.
Paraiso said the bloodmobile has been making its regular visits to Reston Town Center for about five years. It sets up on Discovery Street near the pavilion.
Sharing figures from the past three months, Paraiso said the Reston bloodmobile has been averaging about two dozen donors a month. The number of donors varies — 35 came in March, but only 18 came in April. Paraiso said it is important to keep blood supplies up.
“Every day, there are a lot of patients who need blood,” he said.
Donors receive a T-shirt (while supplies last) and parking validation for up to two hours. Prospective donors are encouraged to pre-register online or call 866-BLOODSAVES and use sponsor code 1000.
If the Reston Town Center drive isn’t convenient, Paraiso said there are several other drives across Virginia, Maryland and D.C. on a daily basis. Residents are encouraged to search Inova’s website to find one that’s right for them.
“It doesn’t matter what blood type you are,” Paraiso said. “As long as you’re healthy and well, you’re eligible to donate.”
The bloodmobile will next be at Reston Town Center on Tuesday, June 27.
According to a press release, orthopedic surgeon Bradley Boyd performed the procedure using the hospital’s new Mako Technology.
“The advantages of the Mako Technology allow me to combine a preoperative 3D model CT scan with intra‐operative robotic templating,” Boyd said in the release. “This enables an extremely accurate alignment of the knee components and leg length, fitting each patient’s unique anatomy.”
The hospital acquired the technology in 2015 for total hip and partial knee replacements, but it has now been expanded to total knee replacement surgeries.
“The addition of the Mako Total Knee Application to our current system is a direct reflection of our commitment to providing the best outcomes for our patients,” said John Deardorff, president and CEO of Reston Hospital Center, in the release. “It is our goal to remain at the forefront of technological advances in surgery so that we can continue to give our patients and medical staff access to the latest in surgical care.”
For more information about Reston Hospital Center, visit its website.
Northern Virginia Orthodontics has teamed up with nonprofit Dentistry From The Heart to offer a free dental care day Saturday at their Reston office (12110 Sunset Hills Road #475). Free cleanings, fillings and extractions will be offered from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
This will be the first time Northern Virginia Orthodontics, which opened its Reston office in December, has offered such an opportunity. But it isn’t the first time the business has reached out to help others, said Casey Peterson, practice relations manager.
“We support and help so many different organizations, schools and community groups,” Peterson said of the Loudoun County-based practice, which also works in partnership with Inova Children’s Hospital on pediatric cancer efforts. “We’re centered around giving back to the community.”
Florida-based Dentistry From The Heart is a worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free dental care to those who need it but cannot afford it. It sponsors hundreds of such events nationwide each year, according to its website, helping thousands of patients and giving millions of dollars in free dental care.
“Dental health is linked to so many other full-body issues, and anything we can do to help somebody get in complete health is something we’ll try to do,” Peterson said. “We’re hopeful that there are people out there who’ll take advantage of it.”
Registration on Saturday will begin at 8:30 a.m., and care will be first come, first serve. Peterson said top dental-care providers from around the area will be part of the event, and referrals will be offered to patients if additional care is necessary.
For more information, call 703-574-2174.
“I actually was able to get an internship with Disney World, which was my dream job,” she said. “I was offered a regular full-time position, but I ended up getting sick.”
After a long series of doctor’s visits, Katz was diagnosed in 2014 with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a condition that causes an increased heart rate when standing upright — resulting in dizziness, migraines and more. Because of it, Katz was forced to give up her photography position at Disney World and return home to Reston to her parents, Gina and Bert.
Now 25, Katz finds herself traveling down a new path in life, raising awareness for rare diseases and chronic illnesses. She has started an awareness campaign called Spoonspirations — the name of which is a reference to “spoon theory,” a term coined by lupus patient advocate Christine Miserandino about how sufferers of such conditions must ration their energy.
“She wanted a way to describe it to people who don’t have a chronic illness, so they could understand,” Katz said. “Basically, it’s kind of like if you get up to walk the dog, you use three spoons out of your 12 total spoons for the day.”
Through Spoonspirations, Katz is using her love of art to spread the word about chronic illness. Katz studied graphic design as well as photography, and she has designed a number of different pieces of apparel for various related causes.
She is raising money for research in the process, as all proceeds from sales of the clothing are given to chronic illness organizations. In 2016, she said, she raised $8,000 that was donated in large part to Dysautonomia International and the Dysautonomia Support Network, organizations she became acquainted with through her personal journey.
This year, Katz has become involved with rare disease advocacy organization Global Genes. She will travel to Southern California at the end of the month to participate in a fashion show for the organization as part of World Rare Disease Day.
“Everyone is walking in honor of someone who has a rare disease,” she said. “I’m the only one walking who actually has a rare disease.”
Katz is hopeful that she will be able to make more connections during the event to help her expand Spoonspirations and raise more awareness for the hundreds of millions worldwide suffering from chronic illnesses.
“Rare diseases affect approximately 350 million people worldwide and often times are invisible,” she said. “So you never know who might be affected.”
Photos courtesy Nisa Katz/Spoonspirations
The rankings look at 30 factors, including poverty, education, transportation, housing, violent crimes, jobs, access to healthy foods and access to medical care.
Some stats contributing to Fairfax’s high marks:
An adult smoking rate of 11 percent, and lower-than-average rates of obesity (20 percent), physical inactivity (15 percent) and excessive drinking (20 percent). Fairfax also earned very high marks for access to health care professionals and exercise opportunities.
But some lifestyle factors are not so great here. Fairfax was No. 37 (out of 133 counties) for physical environment. That means average levels of air pollution and housing problems and a way-above-average length of commute for many residents.
In Maryland, Montgomery County earned top honors.
Too see all Virginia stats, visit the County Health Rankings website.
Running in Reston/file photo