Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. Say hello to the new 2800 Shirlington, which recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village, a large retail hub with a variety of unique restaurants and shopping options. Spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes are under construction and will deliver soon!

Joint Arlington-Icelandic regenerative-medicine biologics company Kerecis has reeled in a new batch of funding.

The company, which has its operational headquarters in Courthouse, is focused on a technology that might sound to some like Spider-Man villain origin in the making.

Kerecis uses “fish skin and fatty acids for tissue protection and regeneration.” The fish skin can be used to treat wounds, burns and other tissue damage.

The company’s leadership said in a press release that the technology’s eager adoption in the United States was one of the leading sources of growth over the last year. Though the product might sound fishy, Kerecis said in a press release there’s no risk of viral-disease transfer from Atlantic cod to human.

Kerecis said all of the fish it flays for human use are wild and caught off the coast of Iceland.

“The fish skin needs only mild processing for medical use and maintains its natural structure and elements, including Omega 3 fatty acids,” the company said. “The Kerecis fatty-acid-based products protect the body against bacterial and viral infections.”

The company announced that the funding is based on $15 million in credit from Silicon Valley Bank to fund the company’s capital needs, with investors and lenders providing $6 million in loans to finance expanding the company’s expansion plans in the United States.

Research into adapting fish skin as treatment for burns and other skin-damage has been promising, with some experimental treatment being done in Brazil.

“The main reason that we were once again named Iceland’s fastest growing company is the rapid adoption of our medical fish skin in the U.S. market,” said G. Fertram Sigurjonsson, founder and CEO of Kerecis. “We are excited that our products are preventing amputations and reducing human suffering.”

Sigurjonsson said the funding will go to accelerating development and marketing of products for wounds, burns and other medical needs, especially in the United States.

Photo via Kerecis/Facebook

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The Arlington County Fire Department is taking new measures that could help save some critically injured or ill patients.

The department announced yesterday that it is rolling out a new “whole blood” program this month, in which medics will be trained to administer blood transfusions in the field for people suffering life-threatening bleeding.

The blood will be carried in climate-controlled compartments in EMS supervisor vehicles — the fire department SUVs with the Caduceus on the side.

By administering blood in the field, patients will receive critical care for blood loss significantly faster, ACFD said, noting that it can otherwise take up to 30-45 minutes to receive blood when a patient is transported to the hospital. The department says that 20-30 people per year are likely to benefit from field blood transfusions in Arlington.

The program is being rolled out to other Northern Virginia fire departments, as well. Public safety officials, meanwhile, are urging residents to give blood to ensure the region has an adequate supply.

More from ACFD:

Beginning this month, the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) will carry whole blood as part of a regional EMS initiative to bring lifesaving treatment to patients with major, life-threatening bleeding before arriving at the hospital.

ACFD estimates that 20-30 people per year in Arlington County will benefit from this treatment.

Life-threatening bleeding, such as from trauma or other medical ailments, is usually treated by rushing patients to the hospital to receive a blood transfusion. This transport of patients can delay treatment for the blood loss for upwards of 30-45 minutes in some instances.

Recent research has shown that not only is whole blood more beneficial for the patient than blood that has been split into components, but also that early administration is better for critical patients who need blood. Previously whole blood was only available on medevac helicopters.

Developed by a regional coalition of EMS experts from the Arlington County Fire Department, Loudoun County Fire Department, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, and the Northern Virginia EMS Council, and partnering with Inova Blood Donor Services, the EMS field whole blood program will allow ACFD paramedics to administer this lifesaving treatment within the first few minutes of arrival at the patient’s side.

The Northern Virginia region will be the second EMS regional coalition to develop this program nationally and the first on the East Coast.

“The field whole blood program represents cutting edge EMS treatment and utilizes the most recent medical research and lessons learned from the military,” said Dr. E Reed Smith, the Arlington County Fire and Police Department Operational Medical Director. “With more than 2.5 million people in the Northern Virginia region, this is one of — if not the — largest field administered whole blood program in the nation.”

Dr. Smith added, “Heroes give blood. The Arlington County Fire Department wants to remind everyone that anyone can be a hero and encourages anyone who can donate blood to do so and join the ‘Whole Blood Brigade’.”

As part of the new program, the ACFD EMS Supervisor medical response vehicles have been equipped with climate-controlled compartments and special carrying containers that ensure the blood supply is kept at a proper temperature while it is stored.

ACFD Advanced Practice Officers (APO), the most advanced trained paramedics in the Arlington County Fire Department, received whole blood administration training in August and will be the operational leaders for blood transfusions by ACFD. In September, as the program is rolled out, the entire EMS force will be trained to assist when blood transfusion is initiated in the field.

With the logistics, training, and operations of implementing a new program now established, ACFD and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue will be the first two agencies in the Northern Virginia EMS Council to implement this program. However, any jurisdiction that is a member of the Northern Virginia EMS Council may tap into this program for their EMS agency.

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An Arlington pharmacy and a neighboring kabob restaurant have partnered to help feed hospital workers.

Preston’s Pharmacy (5101 Lee Highway) sits directly across the street from Arlington Kabob (5046 Lee Highway). While business during the pandemic has been active at Preston’s, an essential business, pharmacy owner Frank Odeh said he could tell it’s been hard on Arlington Kabob.

“They’re a small business struggling during COVID-19,” Odeh said. “We decided to work with them. They would supply the food, we’re trying to give them some business and exposure. The owner, Susan, is an entrepreneur and a hard worker. We’re working with them and working with [Virginia Hospital Center] every week, picking a different department. Last week it was the ICU, next week it’s the emergency department.”

Odeh said that while the pharmacy is paying for the food to help keep Arlington Kabob in business, the kabob restaurant has been giving them a significant discount.

Preston’s Pharmacy has remained open, but Odeh admitted that business is still slower than it normally is.

“Business is down, although we’re fortunate not having to lay off or furlough any employees,” Odeh said. “It’s down, but because we’re a pharmacy, people still need chronic medication. People like those who are HIV positive, or diabetics, still need their medicine.”

Odeh said the decline has been in acute business, like treatment for smaller issues that Odeh said are likely overlooked during the pandemic, with many doctor’s offices closed down, social distancing cutting down on colds and flu, and hospitals focused on COVID-19.

Hand sanitizer, on the other hand, has been flying off the shelves so quickly that Preston’s Pharmacy has started making their own.

“We have a lab in the pharmacy and we’re able to produce hand sanitizer,” Odeh said. “We’re selling that and donating a portion of that [to local senior centers].”

Odeh said the mixture is 70% alcohol, which they buy in bulk from different vendors and can be hard to come by, mixed with methocel to give it a thickness.

“It’s relatively new for us,” Odeh said. “In the past, we haven’t needed to because it’s been available from manufacturers like Purell, but because of COVID-19 it has become in very short supply. We’ve ordered bottles and labels. It looks like a professionally made product.”

Odeh said the state board, CDC and FDA have all given them the green light to compound in bulk, a process that’s been fast-tracked due to COVID-19.

The other big seller, Odeh said, has been vitamins.

“[We] sold out on things like Vitamin C and elderberry,” Odeh said. “Vitamin sales have gone through the room. Vitamin D, C and elderberry have immune-boosting properties. People are following trends. There was a study recently about using Pepcid and ulcer medication [to fight coronavirus] and we sold out of that.”

To keep customers and employees safe, Odeh said everyone in the store wears masks and there are plexiglass shields at the registers. Customers are routed through the pharmacy along arrows on the floor and asked to stay six feet apart.

Photos courtesy Preston’s Pharmacy

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(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) Virginia Hospital Center recently opened a new immediate care facility in the Crystal City area, but plans are already in the works to expand the facilities.

“Virginia Hospital Center Immediate Care will be adding family medicine and OB/GYN care (by appointment) in coming months,” a spokesperson told ARLnow in an email.

Staff at the center said the plan is to start offering primary care services in June.

The center at 764 23rd Street S., which opened earlier this month, currently operates as an immediate care facility for non-emergency conditions. This includes things like colds and flus, minor lacerations or burns, and ear, eye or urinary infections.

The new location will put Virginia Hospital Center services within scooter distance of Amazon’s new HQ2.

VHC currently offers primary care treatment at its main hospital campus (1625 N. George Mason Drive) and in Shirlington (2800 Shirlington Road). The hospital earlier this week started providing trauma services at its Emergency Room.

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The following op-ed was written by Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington).

For patients — including many of my Arlington constituents — accessing and affording the health care they need can be an overwhelming task. Even when they’ve found an insurance plan and physician specialist that works for them, just keeping up with all the co-pays and meeting high deductibles can prove to be a huge financial strain. When emergencies arise, as they always will, receiving an unexpected bill that you thought your insurance covered, is unfair.

The Virginia General Assembly tried to address surprise billing last session in a fair way that protected patients and didn’t unduly burden the physicians, hospitals or insurers. We were unsuccessful, but now we are seeing this issue has reached beyond Virginia to become a national issue that could benefit from a national solution. I will continue to work for a solution here in the Commonwealth, but I’m hopeful Congress will act sooner to end surprise medical billing fairly and without delay.

But just as important as passing a legislative solution is getting the job done the right way – one that’s good for patients. That means avoiding an approach that gives one side undue influence in the payment process.

There are bills pending in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that rely solely on internal, insurance company rates as the “benchmark” to settle out-of-network payment disputes between insurers and providers — and eliminating any hope of a level playing field between insurers and providers.

That is why Congress should stick to a more equitable approach that doesn’t let any side — the government, doctors, or insurers — arbitrarily dictate rates. Congress should choose an approach that mirrors what we tried to do in Virginia. Our legislation would have protected patients in numerous ways by creating a level playing field between doctors, hospitals and the insurance industry. The best solutions being offered right now on the federal level are bills which include an Independent Dispute Resolution (IDR) process.

IDR would enable physicians and insurance companies to enter into an unbiased negotiation process in order to resolve payment disputes without getting the patient involved at all. The entire process takes place online and lasts no more than 30 days. Independent third-party mediators would make a final decision on payment amounts and, until that time, insurers would provide initial payments that help protect smaller, at-risk hospitals.

As evidenced in New York, IDR works — and it works well. Since establishing the IDR process to address this very issue in 2015, New York has seen network participation grow, out-of-network billing shrink, and in-network emergency costs decrease — all while patient protections and insurer transparency has increased. Meanwhile, California is struggling with its own benchmarking solution, which has led to an increase in contract terminations by insurance companies, threatening patient access to care.

I hope that Congress, led by Virginia’s Senators Warner and Kaine and Representative Bobby Scott who, as chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, has a chance to craft a House-version of an IDR bill, will work together to end surprise billing once and for all. However, if Congress is unable to act, I’m committed to Virginia passing a fair, equitable solution to protect patients in the 2020 General Assembly session.

Photo by Daan Stevens on Unsplash

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Morning Notes

Ovi Visits Local Elementary School — “In conjunction with the launch of Ovi O’s, Alex Ovechkin’s limited-edition breakfast cereal, the Washington Capitals’ captain surprised Arlington Traditional School, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and a local Giant store with a visit on Sept. 10.” [NHL]

9/11 Remembrance Ceremony in Courthouse — “Officials in Northern Virginia held a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Sen Tim Kaine, Rep. Don Beyer, military commanders, local Arlington County officials and members of the Virginia House attended the remembrance ceremony on Arlington County government plaza.” [NBC 4, WUSA 9]

Local Leaders Set Housing Goals — “Local governments around Greater Washington now plan to set targets for housing production over the next decade, as part of a regional initiative to build 320,000 new homes by 2030 and ease the region’s cost pressures.” [Washington Business Journal, Twitter]

ACPD Plans ‘Coffee With a Cop’ — “Wednesday, October 2 is National Coffee with a Cop Day and the Arlington County Police Department is hosting four events with our Community Outreach Teams to celebrate. Community members are invited to join police at these informal events to ask questions, voice concerns, get to know their neighbors, interact with the Community Outreach Teams and meet officers from other sections of the department.” [Arlington County]

Orthopaedic Office Celebrates Grand Opening — “Ortho OIC Orthopaedic Immediate Care, the area’s first independent orthopaedic specialty urgent care… will be holding a grand opening event on September 19 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The event is open to the public and will feature a ribbon cutting ceremony.” [Press Release]

Farewell, Subway-Centric Paper — “The Washington Post is closing down its free daily commuter paper, Express, this week. The final edition of Express will be published on Thursday. The staff learned of the news at a meeting at noon on Wednesday.” [DCist]

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Morning Notes

Now Might Be the Time to Sell Your Home — “‘Some sellers are thinking ‘gosh, why don’t I just wait until Amazon gets into full bloom before I sell my house, because maybe values will go up even higher,” Christine Richardson, president of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, told WTOP. ‘But I’m not sure that is necessarily the right way to think about it, because often that initial exuberance is actually higher than reality turns out to be.'” [WTOP]

Local CVS Sold Millions of Opioids — “The largest recipient of pain pills in Arlington, according to the database, is a CVS Pharmacy located at 3133 Lee Highway. A total of 1,465,700 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012, which would be enough for one pill per year for each of the 106,612 people who live within five miles of the pharmacy.” [Patch]

Lots of Booze Sales in Arlington — “The eight Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stores in Arlington accounted for 2.8 percent of total ABC purchases Virginia-wide during the state government’s last fiscal year, which saw a new statewide record set in total sales volume. A total of $29,052,507 in sales (excluding tax) were made at Arlington’s ABC stores from July 2018 to June 2019.” [InsideNova]

Cristol on Kojo — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol went on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show on Friday. Among the topics she discussed: the federal government’s search for a new shelter for detained, unaccompanied immigrant children in Northern Virginia. [Kojo Nnamdi Show, Twitter]

Local Restaurants Coming to Memphis — A pair of local restaurants — Matchbox American Kitchen and Arlington-based Big Buns Best Damn Burger Co. — are opening new locations in Memphis, Tennessee. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Del. Patrick Hope (D) will be hosting a town hall helping Arlingtonians understand Virginia’s new Medicaid expansion this On Friday, Oct. 26.

Hope is expected be joined at the town hall by Dr. Jennifer Lee, director of the Department of Medical Assistance Services, who will help explain who qualifies under the new regulations.

Many Virginians currently ineligible for Medicaid may be qualified under the new expansion. Childless adults were previously ineligible for Medicaid in Virginia, but those with an annual income at or below $16,754 may be eligible under the new regulations.

Eligibility for parents has been raised from those with an income at or below $6,900 to $28,677. Eligibility for people with disabilities has been raised from those earning $9,700 or below to $16,754.

An eligibility screening tool is available online to help Virginians discover if they can be covered by the new Medicaid expansion.

Applications to the state’s expanded Medicaid program can be filed beginning Nov. 2.

The meeting is scheduled for 2-4 p.m in the lower level auditorium of the Arlington County Department of Human Services (2100 Washington Blvd).

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Morning Notes

New Weapon in Battle Against Opioid Addiction — “Arlington County has taken a proactive measure in the fight against prescription drug abuse by installing three permanent drug-take back boxes. The public can now safely and securely dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 day a year. This disposal service is free and anonymous with no questions asked.” [Arlington County]

Lack of 5G Could Hurt Amazon Bid — Arlington’s lack of 5G wireless service could hurt it in the eyes of Amazon as the online giant considers the county for its second headquarters, says a letter to the editor writer. The county should have more actively adjusted policy and lobbied carriers for 5G, the writer suggests. [InsideNova]

Woman Arrested After Victoria’s Secret Assault — “A D.C. woman was arrested for attacking two employees at a Victoria’s Secret in Arlington after she says one of them followed her around the store, according to authorities.” [WJLA]

Average I-66 HOV Round Trip Cost — The average round trip cost for single occupant drivers on the I-66 Express Lanes, from their December opening to the end of April, was $12.72, according to new data. Some drivers have faced steeper tolls during “peak of the peak” times. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy Jeremy Galliani

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Del. Mark Levine (D-45) has said he is “extremely optimistic” of a bill passing in the Virginia General Assembly this year that would legalize a form of medical marijuana.

Levine is chief co-patron on H.B. 1251, introduced by Del. Ben Cline (R-24), which advanced from a subcommittee of the Virginia House of Delegates’ Courts of Justice committee.

It would make medical marijuana, made from cannabidiol oils that can be used for medical purposes after being derived from the flowers of cannabis plants, legal as of July 1, 2018.

The bill would allow physicians to recommend the use of medical cannabidiol oils, going further than a bill introduced by Levine — H.B. 137 — that would have allowed its use only for cancer patients.

He introduced the same legislation in 2017, but it failed in subcommittee. Since then, Levine said he has worked to show lawmakers on both sides of the aisle the benefits of legalization, including Cline, who said he was “pleased with what I’m hearing. I’m hearing developments that I haven’t heard before,” in a hearing last year.

“I’ve long advocated for reform of our outdated and unnecessarily punitive marijuana laws,” Levine wrote in an email to supporters. “Those of you who know me personally know I’ve never even tried cannabis… But just because something physically disgusts me does not make me blind to the scientific fact that non-psychoactive cannabidiol oils from cannabis — oils that don’t get you “high” — have proven scientific effects that reduce pain and nausea and even kill cancer cells.”

The legislation still needs to pass both the House of Delegates and the Virginia State Senate, but Levine said he is hopeful of full passage.

“Having counted the votes on full committee and talked to members in both the House of Delegates and the Senate, I am extremely optimistic about the fate of this legislation,” Levine wrote. “I expect this law to pass. I predict cannabidiol oils will be legally prescribed in Virginia for diagnosis or treatment of illnesses beginning in July 2018.”

In a similar vein, bills by state Sens. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Barbara Favola (D-31) that would have decriminalized the possession of marijuana and reduce penalties for its distribution both failed in committee today (Monday).

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Morning Notes

Long line for the iPhone 5S outside the Apple Store at Pentagon City mall on 9/20/13

Reconfigured W. Glebe Road Intersection Considered — Arlington and Alexandria are considering moving the intersection of W. Glebe Road and S. Glebe Road in order to lessen congestion on Glebe near I-395. The proposal is now part of Alexandria’s long-range planning process. [Patch]

New Picnic Shelter for Lacey Woods Park — The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote this weekend on an enhancement to Lacey Woods Park (1200 N. George Mason Drive). The Board will consider awarding a $341,000 contract to reconstruct the park’s 100-person picnic shelter. [Sun Gazette]

Moran Decries Proposed Cuts to Food Stamps — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says a Republican plan to cut nearly $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will hurt low-income families and children and unemployed adults. Yesterday the House of Representatives passed the plan by a vote of 217-210. In his weekly newspaper column, Moran wrote: “it is disheartening to find House Republicans wasting valuable time on efforts to reduce food availability for the hungry instead of addressing urgent issues facing our nation.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Arlington Girl Raises Awareness of Rare Disease — A 5-year-old Arlington girl, who just started kindergarten at Abingdon Elementary, is battling a genetic, degenerative mitochondrial disease for which there is no known cure. Ellie McGinn and her parents have launched a campaign to raise medical awareness of the extremely rare disease. [Washington Post]

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