The county’s Dept. of Human Services is enhancing its suicide prevention strategies based on the Zero Suicide initiative. The overall goal is to reduce the number of suicides in the county — there were 41 reported between 2013 an 2015 — to zero and improve care and outcomes for those seeking help.
Over the summer some county staff attended a seminar to learn more about implementing the Zero Suicide methods. They’ve applied the strategies and have been teaching other employees about them so everyone is on the same page in the new year.
After an assessment earlier this year, staff discovered inconsistencies in the suicide prevention knowledge and responses among the different divisions within DHS, says Sharon Lawrence, Children’s Behavioral Healthcare bureau chief.
“We wanted to establish a universal approach to make sure that we’re addressing suicide,” Lawrence says.
Part of the revamped approach is to step up training and to ensure all relevant DHS staff members are comfortable handling suicide-related discussions and situations.
In addition, the Children’s Behavioral Healthcare division is spearheading one of the major Zero Suicide-related programs in the new year: a pilot to assess the treatment model and address youth “suicidality,” both in identifying those at risk and in ongoing treatment of those individuals. As part of the pilot the division is implementing the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, which includes plain-language questions that make it easier for staff to identify young people who are at risk of self-harm and to have more productive follow-up visits.
One reason the department chose to focus on youth for the pilot is that suicide is one of the top three leading causes of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Plus, local survey results released in 2014 indicated that 25 percent of Arlington 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students reported feeling sad or hopeless for two or more weeks at a time.
“In the past year-and-a-half we have trained over 300 people in Arlington, including in the schools, to be able to identify when a young person is at risk of harm and may be in distress,” Lawrence says.
Overall, the new methods are “basically a commitment to provide better suicide prevention strategies and tools to DHS staff,” Lawrence says. “Suicide deaths are preventable, that’s the basis of Zero Suicide. The only way to prevent it is by implementing strategies that speak to leadership in terms of the culture you’re setting for staff and the community, [and by] providing training.”
As part of the increased suicide prevention efforts, the Department of Human Services is asking residents to give feedback via a short online survey about its existing services, suicide prevention training, and any unaddressed needs.
Lawrence says everyone should speak up if they encounter a person at risk of self-harm, whether it’s a young person or an adult. She suggests thinking of it like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.
“People say ‘I don’t know what to say.’ It’s best to say something so you don’t ever feel like you missed an opportunity [to help],” says Lawrence.
She explains that it’s okay not to directly address a person at risk of self-harm. It’s sometimes better to first talk to someone with knowledge of handling such situations, like a counselor or teacher. But Lawrence reiterates the importance of not staying silent.
“There’s always help. There is help in Arlington County,” she says.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Service’s emergency services line at 703-228-5160. CrisisLink also has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 703-527-4077 or 800-SUICIDE, or text 703-940-0888.
Cold-pressed juice bar JRINK is now open in the Clarendon area.
The store, at 3260 Wilson Blvd, held its grand opening on Sunday. It offers 100 percent cold-pressed, all-natural juice that’s produced locally, at a price of $9-10 per bottle.
JRINK is competing with nearby South Block Juice Co. in the high-end juice space, which has found a market thanks in part to the popularity of so-called juice cleanses. JRINK — like South Block — also offers coffee, smoothies and superfood bowls.
This is the second Virginia store for JRINK, which has four existing locations in the District and a fifth in Falls Church, where its juices are made. The company says the new Clarendon store is the first of its kind in the region with a drive-thru window.
“JRINK’s newest location allows customers to enjoy a drive-thru experience that keeps your health in check, as well as a full storefront offering their signature juices, warm beverages, and superfoods,” notes a press release.
“Each JRINK flavor (ranging from $9-$10 each or $155 for a full, three-day reboot) contains up to five pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables… completely free of added sugar, preservatives and chemicals,” the press release adds.
“Some cities are taking another look at LED lighting after AMA warning.”
That was the headline from a Washington Post article last Sunday, discussing the pushback against modern Light Emitting Diode streetlights in local communities. While the new streetlights are more energy efficient, last longer and save money compared to older sodium lights, some say they are too bright or cast to harsh of a light.
The American Medical Association warns that excessive blue light from certain LED streetlights could “disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions,” according to the Post. Localities, however, say LED streetlights are not only more economical and more ecological, but are safer for drivers as well, helping to improve visibility on streets.
In Arlington, 85 percent of the more than 7,000 county-owned streetlights are now LED, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. Arlington’s streetlights operate at 5500 Kelvin, she said, casting a bluer tint than the warmer 3000K color temperature recommended by the AMA. The blue tint has been compared to that cast by natural moonlight.
When LED streetlights were first rolled out in Arlington neighborhoods, there were loud complaints from some groups of residents. Since then, O’Brien said, many of the complaints about lighting technology — more than 50 formal complaints between 2013 and 2016 — have been addressed.
“The County has installed shields on county-owned LED streetlights to help better direct the light towards the sidewalk and street,” she said. “Most LED streetlights are also on a dimming schedule to decrease in brightness throughout the course of the night, dimmed as low as 25% of full brightness.”
Nonetheless, the county is studying the AMA report.
“Arlington County streetlights meet current federal standards,” O’Brien said. “The County is studying AMA’s report that LED lights may have negative health and environmental impacts. We are researching this issue and will consider this report, industry standards, and other factors in making a final decision around LED streetlight temperature as part of the County’s Street Light Management Plan that will be completed in 2017. Additionally, our staff will work closely with Arlington’s Public Health Division throughout this process.”
LED streetlights are 75 percent more energy efficient than older models. Arlington expects to save $1 million annually once all county streetlights are converted to LED technology.
What do you think about LED streetlights in Arlington?
Average Lifespan in Arlington — Arlington and Fairfax county residents have a higher average lifespan than residents of D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, according to newly-released data. The average life expectancy in Arlington and Fairfax is 86, compared to a nationwide average of 78. [Washington Post]
Protesters Arrested Outside Pentagon — A total of 21 demonstrators were arrested during an anti-war protest outside of the Pentagon yesterday. According to Pentagon police, those who were arrested were attempting to block an employee entrance near the Pentagon transit center. [Patch]
African American History Book — Updated at 7 p.m. — Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Program has published a new, 59-page book about the history of African Americans in Arlington. The book includes the history of Calloway Cemetery. Since 1891 the cemetery, along Lee Highway, “has been the burial site for dozens of African Americans, including a slave who fought in the Union Army.” [WJLA]
Wardian’s Berlin Marathon Performance — Arlington resident Michael Wardian, 42, ran the Berlin Marathon over the weekend in 2:28:19. Wardian is currently on pace to run all five 2016 World Marathon Majors faster than anyone in history. [Twitter, Competitor]
Theater: ‘Man of La Mancha’ — The Arlington Players performance of ‘Man of La Mancha’ was “filled with exceptional performances and is quite inspiring,” writes a reviewer. “Don’t miss it.” The one-act performance is two hours with no intermission. [DC Metro Theater Arts, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]
Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]
Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington has been named among the nation’s healthiest places to live.
The county was called the “third healthiest city in America” by Niche.com, the rankings site that previously called Arlington the No. 2 “Best City for Millennials,” “Best City to Live in America” and the No. 7 Suburb to Live in America.
The categories surveyed to determine the healthiest city included physical activity rate, obesity rate, access to doctors, access to recreation and fitness facilities and percentage of smokers.
Arlington received an ‘A’ grade in access to doctors, mental health providers and recreation and fitness facilities. With over 150 listed parks in the county and 13 recreation centers along with privately owned gyms, Arlington has many options for residents to stay healthy.
The county’s obesity rate of 17.5 percent is more than 17 percentage points lower than the national average of 34.9 percent and its physical inactivity rate of 13.9 percent is lower than the state rate of 23.5 percent of Virginians reported as physically inactive.
Arlington’s percentage of smokers is 10.1 percent of the population, lower than the national rate of 16.8 percent.
Topping the “healthiest cities” list were Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco. Arlington beat out a long list of such other health paragons as Provo, Utah; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Berkeley, Calif. Neighboring Alexandria ranked No. 18 on that list.
An analysis by the firm Bay Alarm Medical looked at half a million geotagged tweets and found that Arlington sees about 265 sickness-related tweets per 100,000 residents. That puts Arlington No. 10 on a list of the “sickest cities” in the U.S.
New Orleans, Miami and Atlanta are No. 1-3 on the list, respectively.
The research also found:
- Sickness tweets reach their height in December and January.
- Sickness talk decreases as weather warms up.
- Sickness-related complaints peak on Tuesday instead of Monday.
Image courtesy Bay Alarm Medical
Arlington County is one of the healthiest places in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but doesn’t quite top the list.
That’s according to new 2016 rankings from countyhealthrankings.org, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Arlington ranks No. 3 in Virginia, with Fairfax County at No. 2 and Loudoun County at No. 1. Loudoun County received higher marks for Quality of Life and Length of Life, while Fairfax edged Arlington on Quality of Life and Healthy Behaviors.
Two healthy behaviors in particular for which Arlington did not compare favorably? Excessive drinking and sexually transmitted diseases.
Arlington has the highest rate of excessive drinking in the Commonwealth, according to the rankings. Fairfax and Loudoun both come in a few percentage points lower.
Arlington ranks more favorably for the rate of sexually transmitted disease — Arlington’s rate of chlamydia infection is lower than about 60 percent of Virginia jurisdictions, but still above that reported by Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
One healthy behavior in which Arlington has a decisive advantage over Fairfax and Loudoun: the rate of alcohol-impaired driving deaths.
Hat tip to James Breiling
Authorities Still Investigating Oil Sheen on Potomac — In an effort to find the source of an oily sheen on the Potomac River near the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, the Coast Guard, state authorities and the Arlington County Dept. of Environmental Services will be conducting a “dye test.” Non-toxic dye may be seen in the river today. At least 23 birds were were sent to a wildlife rescue organization for cleaning as a result of contact with the oil. [U.S. Coast Guard, Facebook, WJLA]
Two Displaced By Fire Near Clarendon — A structure fire Friday night on the 1200 block of N. Kirkwood Road, near Clarendon, has left two residents displaced. No one was injured in the blaze. The residents are being assisted by the Red Cross. [Twitter, Twitter]
Nauck History Project Seeks Contributions — As part of Black History Month, Arlington County is encouraging residents of the Nauck neighborhood to donate images and stories to the Nauck/Green Valley Heritage Project. The project has an online archive dedicated to preserving the community’s rich history. [Arlington County]
Arlington Makes AARP ‘Healthy’ List — Arlington County is among the top “medium population cities” for those ages 50+ to stay active and healthy, according to new rankings. [AARP]
Clement: Support Governor’s I-66 Plan — Frequent local candidate for elected office Audrey Clement is encouraging Arlingtonians to support the McAuliffe administration’s plan for tolling I-66 inside the Beltway. That plan, which calls for widening I-66 only as a last resort, is preferable to the call from outside the Beltway lawmakers to widen I-66 as soon as possible, Clement says. [Campaign for a Greener Arlington]
Arlington Woman Has Purse With $10K Cash Stolen — Police are looking for a suspect seen stealing a purse with $10,000 cash inside from a Fairfax County Dunkin’ Donuts. The purse was accidentally left behind by an Arlington mother who had saved for years to pay her 18-year-old daughter’s tuition at Penn State. [NBC Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Members of the County Board were at odds at its Tuesday night meeting over a resolution that would support the federal government’s efforts to address responsible use of antibiotics in health care and food production.
The primary goal of the resolution is to “establish a tiebreaker preference in County procurement policies for the purchase of meat and poultry that has been raised according to responsible antibiotic use policies.”
The resolution also calls for working with Arlington Public Schools on a similar antibiotic policy, which would — other things being equal — prefer the purchase of responsibly produced meats for school lunch programs.
“Although Arlington County has few meat and poultry food contracts and does not purchase large quantities of these products, the preference created today signals to the marketplace the County’s desire to join the national effort to drive changes in food production practices that will create healthier alternatives and support public health,” the county said in a press release.
Board member John Vihstadt, however, opposed a specific paragraph of the resolution that said:
“Supports legislative efforts to prevent the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in food production, such as S. 621, the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2015 and H.R. 1552, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2015…”
Vihstadt made a motion to strike the citations of specific federal legislation from the resolution, citing no Virginia senators nor members of Congress who are co-sponsors of either bill.
“We haven’t been briefed on this legislation, we have not seen the bills, and we haven’t — at least I have not — had any communication with our congressional delegation on these pieces of legislation,” he said at the meeting.
The motion to strike the citations failed, though Board member Libby Garvey also voted in favor of it.
“I don’t think we as a Board should be going on record supporting two specific pieces of federal regulation at this stage,” Vihstadt added. “There may be a time when we ought to do that, but I don’t think so at this stage.”
Board member Jay Fisette, who proposed the resolution, said the measures have been under consideration at least the past six months.
“We have done this before, and it’s not breaking new ground to identify a piece of legislation that this County, with its values, stands behind,” Fisette said.
The majority of the Board agreed, saying this would be an opportunity for Arlington to be bold and show local support for federal action before state legislators or other regional governments.
“This is about our health and our kids’ health,” Fisette added. “It’s making a statement and hoping to build and establish partnerships that allow the purchasing power of our government to help address a serious public health issue.”
The resolution passed, in its entirety, with a vote of 4-0-1. Vihstadt abstained.
“I would be supporting this for all the reasons Mr. Fisette and others have said,” he said before the vote, “were it not for the endorsement of two specific pieces of federal legislation.”
(Updated at 8:45 p.m.) Arlington residents will be able to cast their votes and get a free flu shot on Election Day next Tuesday.
Flu shots will be offered from 9-11 a.m. at Key Elementary School (2300 Key Blvd) on Nov. 3.
To get a free shot, people will have to volunteer for a public health emergency simulation, which lasts about 30 minutes.
During the simulation, volunteers will fill out some paperwork, speak with a medication dispensing representative and then receive M&Ms or animal crackers, which represent medication, said Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
The simulation is meant to help the county and staff prepare for a medical emergency where they may have to dispense medicine, Larrick said.
Practicing for a public health emergency gives county planners and staff hands-on experience, Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese said in a statement.
“This is a great opportunity for members of the community to protect themselves against the flu,” Varghese said. “But it’s about more than that. What we’re really doing is testing our ability to deliver medications during a public health emergency. These simulations give our planners and other staff valuable hands-on experience, and by moving the exercise around the county we are able to evaluate different sites for challenges and opportunities.”
Flu activity is currently low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The public health agency recommends everyone ages six months and up gets a flu shot, adding that the flu can cause thousands of hospitalizations and deaths each year.
Fundraiser for Arlington Store Owner — The owner of Maley’s Music (2499 N. Harrison Street) has been hospitalized with a rare disease, just weeks after his wife suffered a debilitating stroke. That has prompted the couple’s daughter to start an online fundraiser to help the family pay its expenses. [Facebook, GoFundMe]
Arlington’s Inaccessible Bus Stops — About two thirds of Arlington’s 1,100 bus stops are not fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Metro estimates that the average cost of upgrading a bus stop to ADA standards is $10,000. [Washington Post]
USS Arlington Readies for Deployment — More than two years after its commissioning, the USS Arlington is getting ready for deployment. The ship has a 40 year expected lifespan in active naval service. [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
Grant for New Bikeshare Stations OKed — Arlington County will receive nearly $300,000 from the federal government to install eight new Capital Bikeshare stations along the GW Parkway. Among the locations set for a new Bikeshare station are Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Gravelly Point Park and Reagan National Airport. [Arlington County]
Jefferson Davis Name Change Unlikely — The Virginia General Assembly is not likely to approve changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway any time soon. “Jefferson Davis was an avid racist and segregationist… But there’s not a whole lot of people clamoring about it except coffee-shop liberals in Arlington,” Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Sun Gazette. Plus, Arlington County already has numerous streets and schools named after slaveholders. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
APS Honored for Healthy Food Options — Arlington Public Schools has received the top award in the “Healthy School Meals” category of the 2015 Virginia School Boards Association Food for Thought Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]
Lighting Task Force Approved — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved the appointment of a citizen working group that will study the issue of athletic lighting in Arlington. After a public process, the group is expected to come back to the Board in 11 months with a recommendation as to whether all artificial turf fields in the county should have lighting, a controversial issue for many who live near such fields. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington has been named the sixth-healthiest “city” in America, according to a ranking that takes lifestyle, access to healthcare and environment all into account.
Livability.com — the same website that named Arlington the third-best place to live last year — said Arlington’s access to exercise, recreation, healthy food and low obesity rate all factored in to its ranking.
“Nearly every resident of Arlington, Va., can access healthy foods and places to exercise,” the website says in its blurb about Arlington. “Arlington is filled with parks that offer great hikes, athletic fields, and leisurely strolls and private fitness centers offering yoga, Pilates, CrossFit and a variety of other workouts.”
Topping the list is Minneapolis, Minn., followed by Cambridge, Mass., and Madison, Wisc. Madison was named the best place for recent college graduates to live last week and was No. 1 on Livability’s best places to live rankings.
Arlington was named the healthiest county in Virginia last month. The county’s obesity rate is less than 20 percent, and its network of trails, roads with bike lanes and cycle tracks and Metro-accessible development give residents opportunities to stay in shape while commuting to work. Not only do Arlington residents have access to doctors, the website said, they also use them: about 83 percent of residents receive diabetic screenings.
Access to healthy food, recycling programs, not smoking and “drinking in moderation” were also listed as factors for Arlington’s place in the rankings.
A Columbia Pike church preschool has shut down indefinitely after asbestos dust was found in the floors.
Trinity Episcopal Church‘s School of Early Learning sent out a letter to parents on Tuesday, confirming the presence of asbestos dust in the air at the school. The church’s rector, Rev. Kim Coleman, also serves as the school’s headmaster and said the more than 100 students will not be allowed to enter the building for an “indeterminate amount of time.”
“We are presently looking for a temporary site for the school and as soon as we have more information we will let you know,” the letter states. “Please know that we are sorry for these unexpected developments and hope you understand that the measures we are taking we consider to be in the best interest of our students and staff.”
When reached by ARLnow.com, Coleman declined to comment before she could speak to the church’s board. A tipster, who sent us Coleman’s letter, said volunteers were cleaning the preschool when they ripped up flooring, releasing asbestos dust into the air.
“Chaos ensued when folks figured out what had happened,” the tipster wrote. “School was canceled indefinitely. Testing occurred, it came back positive, and now 100-plus kids don’t have a daycare to go to. Who knows if the church has the money to remediate asbestos.”
Coleman’s letter said the church has “consulted a professional asbestos remediation company” and was hoping for an estimate yesterday. The Trinity Church building was built in 1957, and the congregation is 111 years old. Trinity traces its origins back to a chapel for local slaves built by George Washington Parke Custis in the early 1800s, according to the church’s website.
Update at 4:05 p.m. Friday — Rev. Coleman tells ARLnow.com: “We have been dealing with this situation with an abundance of caution and with the advice of environmental professionals since we became aware of it. We will develop a plan of action for going forward as soon as possible and we are keeping the parents apprised of the situation. Our building was built in the early 1950’s and our program currently has 75 students enrolled.