85°Mostly Cloudy

by Heather Mongilio — June 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm 478 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Eastern Foundry, a government contracting incubator, is bringing a Shark Tank-esque competition to Crystal City in hopes of finding creative solutions to help combat post-traumatic stress disorder.

The first Eastern Foundry Cup, a three-day event, begins on June 18 and leads up to a demo day, where 14 companies will present their ideas for a new product or service to help battle PTSD. A panel of three judges will select the two best ideas.

Eastern Foundry background that will be used during competitionEach company will have seven minutes to present and three minutes for a question and answer session with the judges. The event is open to the public and attendees will be able to vote for their favorite service or product.

The idea for the Eastern Foundry Cup came from a desire to brings something innovative to the government, Eastern Foundry Cup Founder Geoff Orazem said. The company quickly settled on PTSD as a topic as it was something that touched the four founders, all of whom are veterans.

While the event is a competition, Orazem said he hopes the 14 companies will work together to blend their ideas on helping PTSD.

“We really wanted to take a holistic view on what the veteran needed,” he said.

PTSD is a multi-dimensional issue, Orazem said. While many people see it as a purely psychological issue, the disorder affects multiple areas of a person’s life, including family life, employment and for veterans, reintroduction to society.

Eastern Foundry staff hold a meeting

Other issues that come with returning from service and PTSD can include anxiety, sleeping problems, drinking problems and family issues, which all start compounding, Orazem said.

“With so many problems people have, it’s treated as a single issue… There are a lot of dimensions that have to be thought of as a total,” he said.

One of the companies uses virtual reality to help those with PTSD overcome panic attacks. Others have services that will speed up or improve therapy veterans receive for PTSD.

While the main event is the competition, the companies will also get to have two days of educational activities. Eastern Foundry is bringing people from the Veterans Affairs and PTSD experts, as well as business experts to help the companies perfect their services and strengthen their companies.

The two days also provide networking opportunities for the competitors to meet each other and people who can help them further their companies.

“You will see a lot of interaction between the [the competitors],” Orazem said.

Eastern Foundry CEO and Founder Geoff OrazemHe also said he hopes there will be interaction among the competitors and the audience members.

“I really hope to see guys who were Vietnam vets, Korea vets, who have been struggling with these ideas [PTSD] for 30-40 years, can come and engage,” Orazem said.

The event is also to help get the smaller companies to connect with larger companies or with the government to help them secure contracts they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to grab, Orazem said. Looking down the road, he would like to see the competing companies win government or medical contracts in at least six months, he said.

The event is just the first for Eastern Foundry. The company also plans to hold another one next fall. Orazem said he plans to continue to hold these cups, possibly with PTSD as a topic again.

“We’re really excited about this becoming a recurring event,” he said.

by ARLnow.com — April 3, 2015 at 8:30 am 3,192 0

Early spring daffodils (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Tow Driver Hooks Car With Kids Inside — A local dad is upset with Advanced Towing because one of its tow truck drivers hooked his car in the Columbia Pike CVS parking lot while two of his kids were still inside. The tow driver unhooked the car when he realized the children were there. The tow company owner said the car had tinted windows and the dad had parked at CVS but went to other businesses before returning to shop at CVS. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]

Hikers Rescued on GW Parkway — The Arlington County Fire Department, with an assist from the U.S Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter, rescued two hikers stranded on the rocks along the George Washington Parkway last night. [WUSA 9]

Officers Honored at CIT Awards — Several Arlington County public safety officers were honored last night for their extraordinary work to intervene in mental health crises. The officers are specifically trained to deal with mental health issues as part of Arlington’s Crisis Intervention Team program. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Peter Rousselot — February 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotIn a January column, I outlined why Virginia’s mental health system desperately needed reform. I mentioned a series of recent tragic incidents of violence perpetrated by mentally ill individuals.

In one of those incidents, the 24 year-old son of state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) stabbed his father multiple times, and then shot himself to death. “Gus” Deeds had been released from an expired emergency custody order 13 hours before the incident. He was released because an appropriate psychiatric bed for him could not be found before the emergency custody order expired.

In January, efforts were just getting underway to address some of these issues in this year’s Virginia legislative session. We now have passed the mid-point (known as “Crossover”) in the legislative session. Progress is being made toward enacting some of the mental health reforms that are needed.

Both houses of the legislature are calling for significant new investments in the portion of our mental health system that offers mental health treatment to people in crisis situations. This includes new initiatives to:

  • fund more beds at state psychiatric hospitals for patients who are held under temporary custody orders,
  • fund more therapeutic assessment centers to serve individuals in psychiatric crisis situations,
  • reduce the amount of time law enforcement must devote to emergency custody cases, and

The House of Delegates version of the legislation proposes new funding to add 17 new therapeutic assessment centers in the next two years. These centers are locations to which law enforcement personnel can transport people in crisis for psychiatric evaluation to determine whether they pose a threat to themselves or others. The centers are tied to other proposals — referenced above — to expand the duration of emergency custody orders without placing an undue burden on police and sheriff’s departments who transport people in crisis. These law enforcement personnel now have to wait in the center until the evaluation is complete.

This bipartisan legislative progress deserves our support and praise.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 11, 2014 at 11:45 am 810 0

Virginia Capitol (photo courtesy Del. Bob Brink)(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) In a bipartisan effort, the Virginia Senate passed sweeping mental health reform yesterday.

The bill, SB 260, establishes a psychiatric bed registry, extends the maximum duration of temporary custody from four to 24 hours and establishes and “clarifies procedures for placement of those subject to an involuntary temporary detention order,” according to a Senate Democrats press release.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County), who police say was stabbed by his son, Austin, in the face and chest before Austin Deeds shot himself in November. Austin Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation but was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.

Sen. Barbara Favola (D) was a co-patron of the bill, and announced its 38-0 passage Monday with a press release, below:

Senate Bill 260, of which Senator Favola is a co-patron, has passed the Senate today, providing a safety net for individuals suffering from mental illnesses. When an individual is evaluated under an emergency protection order and a determination is made that a temporary detention order (TDO) is needed, the bill ensures that a psychiatric bed will be available.

The bill will protect Virginia residents from the potential threats associated with mental health patients by providing sufficient time to determine the degree to which they are a threat to themselves and to others. The psychiatric bed registry will benefit these patients by guaranteeing them secure facilities in which they can be detained and will facilitate efficiency in law enforcement and crisis response services.

Furthermore, the liberty given to local community services boards to determine alternative facilities for such patients will also ensure their personalized, and therefore improved, treatment. This is filling an important hole in the mental health safety net.

Senator Favola said “Ensuring the availability of a psychiatric bed is crucial to providing much needed care.”

Under the current system, if a bed is not available a judge will not issue a TDO even if the individual needs a more comprehensive evaluation and a treatment plan.

by Peter Rousselot — January 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm 308 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotA tragic incident in Bath County, Va. — in which the son of State Sen. Creigh Deeds attacked his father with a knife and subsequently shot himself to death — once again has exposed the many flaws in Virginia’s public mental health system.

In another tragedy earlier last fall, a mentally-unstable employee of a government contractor, who had worked on many assignments around the Metro area (including in Arlington), shot multiple victims to death at the D.C. Navy Yard.

The Deeds incident brought into sharpest focus flaws in Virginia’s record keeping regarding the availability of openings to hold mentally ill individuals who might pose a danger to themselves or others. It also highlighted the need to re-examine standards for involuntary detention. However, I believe the mental health area that is most in need of reform is the longer-term care and treatment of individuals who cannot afford care for themselves.

At various points during their lives, large numbers of the mentally ill can be:

  • in school
  • in hospitals
  • in jail
  • living in a home
  • homeless
  • employed part time
  • unemployed

In any of those settings, these individuals can be: improving, stable, declining, or dangerous to themselves or others.

The challenge for Virginia is to develop a mental health system that provides comprehensive, consistent and continuous treatment for all eligible residents — regardless of in which of the above categories they happen to fall at any given time.

One key to improving treatment is to develop an electronic records system to capture critical information about diagnoses, past treatment and recommendations for the future. We must avoid a “silo” approach in which one or more Virginia public or non-profit institutions treat an individual for mental health issues, and then keep the information stored away where it cannot be accessed later by other mental health professionals. With due deference to patients’ privacy rights, such a records system must be accessible electronically by subsequent treatment providers.

A second key to improving treatment is a combination of increased state and local funding so that eligible individuals can receive appropriate care while living in the setting that best fits their mental health status.

Any of us could be the next victim of an act of violence perpetrated by a mentally-disturbed person. Let’s work together in a bipartisan way to reform Virginia’s mental health system.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by ARLnow.com — December 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm 4,256 47 Comments

A nonprofit will be allowed to house six adults with mental illnesses in the Alcova Heights neighborhood, despite objections from neighbors.

Since April, a single-family house at 3704 2nd Street S. has been operating as a low-barrier group home for four (4) adults with mental illnesses transitioning from homelessness. New Hope Housing, the Alexandria-based nonprofit that operates the dormitory, has been seeking a use permit to increase the maximum number of adults housed at the dormitory to six (6).

The use permit request drew criticism from neighbors at Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting.

Residents told the Board that there was a lack of supervision and communication from the nonprofit for the first 4-5 months that the group home — called Susan’s Place — was in operation. Several neighbors described residents of the shelter cursing and spitting at them as they walked by, a resident who sat in a broken chair in the front yard talking to himself until midnight, and other disturbances. Residents and neighborhood representatives said neighbors were not notified that the group home would be opening, and didn’t know who to contact with concerns.

New Hope Housing Executive Director Pamela Michell told the Board that the problems went uncorrected for several months because a key staff member was on an extended personal leave, working on a master’s degree in social work. She said the organization typically doesn’t give neighbors a heads up when they open a new group home because of fair housing laws, but called that a mistake in retrospect.

“There was a lack of communication,” she admitted. “We did not come and talk to the neighborhood. That was obviously a mistake.”

Still, Michell said the organization was not aware of any problems during the first few months the group home was open. She said a staff person was on-site during that time, and disputed the assertion of neighbors that they made a reasonable effort to voice concerns about resident behavior.

“Frankly, no one knocked on our door and said there was a concern,” Michell said. “Since the staff person didn’t observe it and since nobody complained, we didn’t know there was something that needed to be addressed.”

In a letter to county staff, the Alcova Heights Citizens Association said they only obtained information about New Hope Housing when an attorney for the organization contacted them seeking support for expansion of the group home. The first meeting between neighbors and New Hope staff took place on Aug. 14.

“This appears to be a lapse in management,” County Board member Jay Fisette said to Michell. “You guys did something wrong.”

Fisette and other Board members were swayed, however, by accounts that problems with the group home have largely been corrected since that meeting. They were also supportive of conditions for the use permit agreed to by New Hope Housing, including 24-hour on-site supervision, a neighborhood liaison who can be reached by phone by residents, an administrative review after 5 months and a County Board review in 9 months.

“Because it has improved… I think this is going to work,” Fisette said. “Six people, five people or four doesn’t really matter. It’s the management issues around it.”

Fisette also noted that many of the residents who expressed concerns about the group home also expressed support for New Hope’s overall mission to help the homeless.

The Board approved the use permit by a 5-0 vote.

Board member Chris Zimmerman echoed Board Chair Mary Hynes in commending the “vital function in our community” that nonprofits like New Hope play in helping to combat homelessness.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — June 21, 2010 at 6:40 am 638 1 Comment

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is looking for a few good barristers.  Here’s the listing from Volunteer Arlington:

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness, seeks volunteer attorneys and law students to provide general legal information and referrals (not legal advice) to people affected by mental illness issues.

NAMI’s 1,100+ affiliates engage in advocacy, research, support and education. Its members are families, friends and people living with major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder.

Volunteers must have law degree or be in law school, have good oral and written communication skills, sensitivity to people affected by mental illness issues, and conscientious work habits. Must be available at least 4 hours a week between 10 am and 6 pm weekdays for, ideally, at least 6 months.

NAMI is located at 3803 N. Fairfax Drive, in Courthouse. Anyone interested in this opportunity should contact Maggie Scheie-Lurie at 703-516-0689.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list