by Bridget Reed Morawski February 20, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The number of Arlingtonians seeking treatment for opioid addiction and related disorders rose from 100 patients in 2015 to 345 patients in 2017, an overall increase of 245 percent, according to Arlington County.

The uptick, detailed in the Arlington County 2017 Annual Report released in January, has spurred the county to implement new treatment approaches for identified opioid-related disorders and addictions.

The police department, unsure of what the best opioid treatment options were to combat the increasing arrests or overdoses, contacted Suzanne Somerville, the county’s residential and specialized clinical services bureau chief.

“We weren’t working together as a county,” said Somerville. She added that departments also weren’t previously coordinating with Virginia Hospital Center but that there is now a monthly meeting with emergency room personnel to discuss frequent treatment or med-seeking patients.

A stakeholders task force was created in January 2017 among multiple county government representatives, non-profit treatment providers and affected families, to develop a plan to address the rising figures, according to Somerville.

In hard numbers, 345 patients in a county of approximately 239,000 isn’t an epidemic. But the 245 percent increase concerns officials — and the figures, Somerville said, may be higher.

“I suspect we always had a much higher number than are seeking treatment here,” said Somerville, later noting that previous data for opioid abusers only counted those seeking treatment through the Dept. of Human Services, not the number of relevant police interactions or even the number of those who are not seeking treatment and haven’t been arrested.

The county finds itself on the doorstep of three communities much more heavily impacted by the nationwide opioid epidemic, according to Somerville: the District of Columbia, West Virginia and more southern areas of Virginia.

“That’s the interesting thing with the opioid crisis, it’s widespread. There’s no socioeconomic division, there’s no race division. It depends on how they start,”she added.

Many opioid abusers initially are prescribed painkillers for medical problems, then later become addicted and switch to a cheaper habit like heroin. In Arlington, it costs approximately $25 for .25 grams of heroin. Oxycontin pills are about $1 per mg; Percocet, $.50 per mg; and Fentanyl, $6.50 per mg.

Arlington officials prefer two methods — a medication assisted treatment (MAT) and an office-based opioid treatment program (OBOT) — over incarceration. The OBOT program combines treatment with naloxone, which is sold under brand names like Narcan and Evzio, with group therapy and peer recovery services.

These peer recovery services take the form of residential intensive treatment homes where patients undergo detox for a minimum of two weeks, but typically up to three months. One Arlington treatment house has the capacity to take 14 patients for up to six months. During this time, patients learn independent living skills and have their sobriety monitored.

One treatment center is in Ballston and another is elsewhere in northern Arlington, though Somerville declined to be more specific, saying that both locations are inconspicuous.

The treatment centers are completely voluntary, but only two patients chose jail over drug court in 2017. Those who opt for jail face at least two years in prison, with terms varying depending on criminal history and individual circumstances. Drug court comprises of supervisory components like GPS anklet monitoring.

“There are some cases where that is not going to work out,” added the bureau chief. “If the police feel that a person has distribution, there probably wouldn’t be something we could do to divert, but we are looking to come up with options at the time of bond or sentencing to say that this person would benefit from treatment as opposed to straight incarceration.”

Photo via Eric Norris/Flickr

by Anna Merod February 13, 2018 at 5:15 pm 0

This Valentine’s Day, the Arlington County Fire Department will conduct a free mass CPR training event at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

The “Hands2Hearts” event is intended to save lives. If hands-only CPR can be performed immediately on a cardiac arrest victim, the victim is 2-3 times more likely to survive.

“You will gain confidence in providing life-saving techniques in just a couple of minutes,” said an Arlington County press release.

The training session will be held from 1-1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14 on all four levels of the mall surrounding the center food court. The event is being conducted in partnership with the Virginia Hospital Center and supported by the American Heart Association.

“There will be opportunity to interact with Arlington County firefighters, paramedics, and Virginia Hospital Center’s healthcare team while they teach hands-only CPR,” noted the press release.

by ARLnow.com January 30, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

Former Clarendon Walgreens Building Purchased — JPMorgan Chase has bought the building that housed the former Walgreens in Clarendon for $25 million, perhaps for a new bank branch. [Washington Business Journal]

Local Man Shot and Killed in Philly — An Arlington man who “appeared to be intentionally trying to run down people” with his car was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in South Philadelphia. The shooting is under investigation. [WPVI]

More Details on Arlington Vehicle Decals — “The 2017-18 Arlington car-tax decal may come with a new feature: personalization. The county treasurer’s office is working on a plan that would add each vehicle’s year, make and model onto the new decals, which will start being distributed over the summer.” [InsideNova]

ACPD Launches Super Bowl Sobriety Campaign — “The Arlington County Police Department and law enforcement agencies across the country are huddling up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a special Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk reminder to urge football fans across the nation not to drop the ball on this issue.” [Arlington County]

VHC Named Top Hospital for Nurses — Virginia Hospital Center is the top hospital for nurses in Virginia, according to new rankings from a nursing website. [Nurse.org]

Signs Up for Nestle in Rosslyn — A Nestle sign is now up on the company’s new headquarters at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn. [Twitter]

State Senate OKs Arlington Hotel Tax Bill — The Virginia state Senate has passed a bill to authorize Arlington to impose a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge, to fund tourism promotion. The county’s current authority to collect the surcharge expires July 1. [InsideNova]

Robert Parry Obituary — “Robert Parry, an investigative journalist who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1985 for his Associated Press exclusives about the CIA’s production of an assassination manual for Nicaraguan rebels, died Jan. 27 in Arlington, Va. He was 68.” [Washington Post, Consortiumnews]

by Chris Teale January 17, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

A proposal to add a major expansion to Virginia Hospital Center has been opened up for public discussion ahead of a possible approval in the near future.

A walk-through of the site by the county’s Site Plan Review Committee had been planned for January 6 but has been postponed, with a new date yet to be confirmed.

SPRC held its first meeting on the project on December 18, 2017. It will review the plans and then make a recommendation to the Planning Commission, and also provide a first forum for public comment.

VHC is proposing a more-than 230,000-square-foot, seven-story outpatient pavilion for walk-in patients.

The plans would also convert around 120,000 square feet of existing outpatient space to 101 hospital beds and build a 10-story parking garage with just over 2,000 spaces.

The extension to its campus would replace the county-owned Edison Center on the 1800 block of N. Edison Street, to the north of VHC’s main site. The Edison Center is currently home to some county offices and an Arlington County Refugee Services location.

The County Board voted in July that it wants to acquire the hospital’s property at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road and use the site on N. Edison Street as part of the purchase price.

The county hosted a kick-off meeting for the project on November 16, 2017. According to a meeting summary posted online, feedback was generally positive, with questions raised about traffic and parking issues but also noting the project’s importance.

“This isn’t just some ordinary expansion,” one commenter wrote on a feedback card. “This is a vital resource to this County. No one wants something in their backyard. The renderings are beautiful and definitely better than what exists on Edison Street.

Images by HDR.

by ARLnow.com January 2, 2018 at 10:55 am 0

Fresh off a rather delicate ring removal last week, the crew of ACFD’s Rescue 104 used their specialized tools to cut a ring from a woman’s finger yesterday morning.

Firefighters were called to the emergency room of Virginia Hospital Center on New Year’s Day for an elderly woman whose finger was swollen around her ring. Medical personnel were unable to slide it off, so Rescue 104 was called.

Firefighters used a grinding tool and shielding devices to remove the ring and save the woman’s finger without further injury, WTOP reported.

The Arlington County Fire Department tweeted a post-removal finger, which was approved for publication by the patient “for public awareness.”

by ARLnow.com December 29, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

Being a firefighter can be unpleasant at times.

You often hear about the heroics of Arlington’s bravest when there’s a house fire or a bad car wreck. But you don’t hear about the little things — the “public service” calls to help vulnerable residents or the medical calls where people are in pain from all manner of cringeworthy afflictions.

One such incident occurred last night.

A rescue company was called to Virginia Hospital Center around 10:45 p.m. to assist with the removal of a ring that was around a man’s genitals. The ring was causing “extreme swelling” and medical personnel were unable to get it off on their own, according to scanner traffic.

The jewelry was removed and the patient was in “good condition” following the removal, but a fire department spokesman brushed it off as all in a day’s work.

“It’s nothing exciting,” said Capt. Ben O’Bryant. “Our Rescues have tools for getting body parts out of machinery and other things so when the ER can’t get a ring off, they call Rescue 104 to help them out.”

by Chris Teale September 13, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Virginia Hospital Center (1701 N. George Mason Drive) is looking to add a major expansion on land it will acquire in a land-swap agreement with Arlington County.

Under a preliminary site plan filed with the county, VHC is proposing a more-than 230,000-square-foot, seven-story outpatient pavilion for walk-in patients.

The plans would also convert around 120,000 square feet of existing outpatient space to 101 hospital beds and build a 10-story parking garage with just over 2,000 spaces. Of those 10 stories, two would be below-grade. VHC would also make improvements to the streets around its campus so pedestrian facilities like sidewalks and crosswalks are better connected.

The extension to its campus would replace the county-owned Edison Center on the 1800 block of N. Edison Street, to the north of VHC’s main site. The Edison Center is currently home to some county offices and an Arlington County Refugee Services location.

The County Board voted in July that it wants to acquire the hospital’s property at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road and use the site on N. Edison Street as part of the purchase price.

A letter dated August 7 from land-use attorney Nan E. Walsh of the Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh law firm that represents VHC said it has been undergoing a “comprehensive study” of its services with medical professionals as well as neighbors, and has determined it has to fill several gaps.

“These discussions have helped the applicant identify several critical needs which must be addressed as the hospital complex evolves and grows,” Walsh wrote. “These needs include, among others, adding new hospital beds, creating new spaces for hospital services and outpatient care, creating new parking and improving access to the hospital complex.”

In a further letter on June 16, Walsh said community members will benefit from the increased capacity for medical care and improved service for patients and visitors, as well as utility improvements, provided bicycle parking and a green building design, among others.

An amendment to the county’s overall General Land Use Plan will be required to integrate the Edison site into VHC, as well as rezoning the property, site plan and use permit amendments.

by ARLnow.com July 19, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

County Opts to Acquire Hospital Site — Arlington County Board members on Tuesday voted to formally seek a large tract of land along S. Carlin Springs Road in a land swap with Virginia Hospital Center. In exchange, the county is offering to VHC county-owned land next to the hospital, which would allow it to expand. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Bike Thefts Up in Arlington — Bike thefts were up for the first 6 months of 2017, compared to a year prior. No one seems to be safe from the prolific bike thieves, who often target high-end bikes parked in garages and bike lockers; among those reporting recent thefts were Henry Dunbar, the director of BikeArlington and Capital Bikeshare in Arlington, and an ABC 7 employee. [WJLA]

Gondola Project Not Dead — Though Arlington County has moved on from it, D.C. is still budgeting money to advance the proposed Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola project, including $250,000 for an environmental review of a potential gondola site near the C&O canal. One other intriguing factor: should the gondola run north of the Key Bridge, as shown in renderings, it may reach Arlington at the Key Bridge Marriott property, which is in the early stages of a potentially large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment. [Bisnow]

County Buys Office Building — As expected, the Arlington County Board has voted to purchase a low-slung office building at 2920 S. Glebe Road, to house Arlington’s head start program. The program is currently housed in the Edison Center next to Virginia Hospital Center, which is slated to be transferred to VHC in a land swap (see above). Arlington is paying $3.885 million for the Glebe Road property, nearly $1.5 million above its assessed value. [Arlington County]

JBG Has Big Plans for Crystal City — JBG Smith, the newly-formed combination of JBG and the Washington properties of Vornado, says repositioning and enhancing its 7 million square foot portfolio in Crystal City is a “top priority.” Among the changes in the works for the Bethesda-based firm: expanding the vacant office building at 1750 Crystal Drive, converting it to residential, and adding an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]

by ARLnow.com July 10, 2017 at 9:05 am 0

County to Opt for VHC Land Acquisition — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to affirm the county’s desire to acquire land along N. Carlin Springs Road from Virginia Hospital Center, in exchange for a parcel of county land near N. Edison Street, which will allow the hospital to expand. [InsideNova, Arlington County]

ART Discount for Elementary Students — As of June 25, elementary students can get the same student discount on ART bus fares — $1 vs. the regular $2 fare — as middle and high school students. [Arlington Transit]

SoberRide Sets July 4 Record — SoberRide served a record 559 riders on the Fourth of July this year, exceeding the previous July 4 record of 455 riders set in 2003. The regional service, which provides a free ride home on holidays to help prevent DUI crashes, recently began partnering with Lyft rather than offering rides via taxi services. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com May 2, 2017 at 11:40 am 0

Police and firefighters are on scene at the Virginia Hospital Center emergency room investigating a suspicious package.

The hospital and the emergency room have remained open during the investigation.

No significant safety hazard has been reported but those heading to the hospital should expect police and fire department activity in the area.

Update at 2:15 p.m. — The incident was prompted by a “suspicious package received in the mailroom” of the hospital, according to Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

Update at 1:10 p.m. — The “all clear” has been given.

File photo

by Chris Teale April 21, 2017 at 7:00 am 0

(Updated at 9:20 p.m.) A man died Thursday afternoon after being found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Bennie Turner, 40, was released Thursday at 10 a.m. on a court ordered furlough, for an ill family member. He returned from his authorized absence on time at 2 p.m, and returned to his unit just after 2:30 p.m.

Turner was found unconscious in his cell at 4:48 p.m. Deputies and medical staff tried to resuscitate him before the fire department arrived and transported Turner to the Virginia Hospital Center. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5:36 p.m.

His family was notified of his death late Thursday night.

An autopsy will be conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office and the death is being investigated by the Arlington County Police Department, per standard procedure.

by Katie Pyzyk April 19, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

More Beds Likely at VHC — Virginia Hospital Center is likely to receive authorization to add more than 40 new beds. That’s less than its original request of 100 new beds, for which it received push-back. [InsideNova]

New Library App — Arlington Public Library has released a new app for iPhone and Android. Users can perform tasks including checking their accounts, searching the catalog, booking meeting rooms and checking operating hours. [Arlington County]

Kaine Staff to Hold Arlington Office Hours — Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D) staff will hold office hours at the Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) on Thursday from 1-3 p.m. They will be available for one-on-one meetings with citizens to answer questions or address concerns. Those interested in speaking with a staff member are encouraged to make an appointment in advance, but walk-ins also are welcome. [Sen. Tim Kaine]

by Katie Pyzyk April 17, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Candidates Largely Favor Land Swap — During a debate, Democratic County Board candidates generally indicated they want the county to move forward with a land swap agreement with Virginia Hospital Center. VHC has offered the county various pieces of land in exchange for a 5-acre parcel of county-owned land on N. Edison Street, just north of the VHC property. [InsideNova]

Impact of Pike Streetcar Cancellation — There’s speculation that the county’s 2014 cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar plan may have contributed to stalling revitalization efforts in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County. [Washington Post]

New Assistant County Manager — Arlington County has named Samia Byrd as a new assistant county manager. Byrd has more than 20 years of planning experience and will serve as a senior adviser to County Manager Mark Schwartz. [Arlington County]

Historic District Proposal — Next month the County Board will consider a proposal to designate “The Hermitage,” a home at 4025 N. Randolph Street, as a local historic district. [InsideNova]

by ARLnow.com March 28, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Farmhouse Sale Not Certain — Arlington County officials are pretty sure the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont will sell to a private buyer, but it’s not a given. The cost of fixing up the house may be more than it is worth. [InsideNova]

Arlington Healthcare Co. Considering Merger — Ballston-based Evolent Health is exploring a possible merger with D.C.-based Advisory Board Company, a healthcare consulting firm that helped to fund and launch Evolent. [Reuters]

VHC Land Swap Still in Progress — A proposed land swap that would give Virginia Hospital Center 5.5 acres of county government land next to its main campus, allowing it to expand, is continuing “to make its way through procedural steps.” The swap could happen as early as June 2018, with Arlington County getting some combination of land and/or cash in return, though it depends on some regional and state regulatory approvals. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com December 28, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Rainbow behind the Iwo Jima memorial (photo courtesy Mark T.)

Webb Running for School BoardFormer candidate for Congress Mike Webb says he’s running for Arlington School Board against incumbent James Lander. “Every problem that we face in Arlington’s public schools can find a solution in opening public charter schools,” Webb wrote in a Facebook post. [Blue Virginia]

Handbag Schemer Led Lavish Lifestyle — Praepitcha Smatsorabudh, the Arlington resident who was just sentenced to 30 months in prison for a fake handbag scheme, led a lavish jet-setting lifestyle that she documented on Instagram while perpetrating the $1 million fraud. [The Sun, Daily Mail]

Metro Installing More WiFi — After a six-station pilot program, Metro has announced that it will be installing public WiFi at all of its underground stations. The work is expected to begin this summer and wrap up by the end of 2018. [The Hill]

VHC to Expand Mental Health Facilities — Virginia Hospital Center is being pushed to expand its behavioral and mental health facilities as part of a proposed expansion of the hospital. Currently, the facilities are located in the hospital’s basement and only include 18 beds. There are an estimated 6,000 people with serious mental illness in Arlington County. [InsideNova]

Arlington Suicide Prevention Survey — Arlington is conducting an online survey about the county’s suicide prevention resources and services. [SurveyMonkey]

Photo courtesy Mark T.


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