Healthy Innovation

News, notes, and developments in the world of Virginia hospitals and healthcare.

VCU Health


   The new Breast Center at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center provides more than 25,000 mammograms annually and offers women the very latest in breast imaging, diagnostics, and cancer treatment. Services include diagnostic imaging (the center has the first mobile mammography unit with 3D technology in Hampton Roads), 3D ultrasound, breast MR, and others.

  Construction is underway to build a new Sentara Cancer Center on the campus of Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk. The multi-year, $93.5 million project began in March and is expected to be complete in mid-2020. The cancer center will bring together expert care teams from Sentara Medical Group, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Virginia Oncology Associates, and other community physicians.

  Breast and plastic surgeon Dr. Sasa-Grae Espino, a new hire by Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, offers mastectomies and breast reconstructions, which can be done simultaneously to spare patients multiple surgeries.

  Researchers at University of Virginia Health are working to develop a new gene therapy known as CAR T-cell therapy that modifies a patient’s own immune cells to kill cancer. The Clinical Research Forum, an advocacy group for clinical research, has recognized this effort as one of 2017’s most important clinical research studies. 

  Richmond’s VCU Massey Cancer Center is the first in the region to use a new, FDA-approved device that guides surgeons in locating and removing breast tumors. Named Magseed, the device is a magnetic seed smaller than a grain of rice and a simpler, more effective alternative to traditional wire localization methods.

Augusta Health


   The Inova Heart and Vascular Institute in Falls Church continues to improve minimally invasive procedures, such as transcatheter valve replacement (TAVR and TMVR). These treatments provide patients an alternative to open-heart surgery for repair of intracardiac structures, repair or replacement of mitral, aortic, pulmonic, or tricuspid valves, and others.

  Williamsburg area patients who have had thoracic and cardiac operations at Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk can now schedule post-operative or surveillance visits for chronic aortic disease closer to home. The new outpatient cardiovascular and thoracic clinic is located in the Geddy Medical Office Building on the campus of Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. 

  Winchester Medical Center is now offering CardioMEMS, a heart-failure monitoring device that helps patients manage their disease. The device sends data wirelessly to the heart failure team, and if necessary, doctors can adjust the medication to prevent a crisis and visit to the hospital. 

  Last spring, Augusta Health unveiled its new electrophysiology lab at its heart and vascular center in Fishersville. The lab is for a variety of procedures, like ablations, pacemakers, and defibrillators—everything to treat the heart’s electrical system. The new equipment in the lab is the state-of-the-art Azurion system that allows physicians to do the procedures more safely. 


   In August, Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond was certified by The Joint Commission and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. St. Mary’s is the only non-academic facility in the state to receive this recognition—the highest level of stroke care certification, awarded for advanced technology and availability of personnel for complex and highly specialized stroke care.

  Jonathan Kipnis at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is exploring possible pharmaceutical applications of his research on lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain. He demonstrated in mice that improving function of the lymphatic vessels improved cognitive ability in reference to age-related memory loss and neurodegenerative diseases. A clinical application of Kipnis’ research could potentially be used to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

  Valley Health Winchester Medical Center began the Rock Steady Boxing program in May 2017 at the campus’s wellness center for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The program is designed to reduce the progression of the disease by improving reflexes, coordination, and neuromuscular memory and can accommodate patients with limited mobility.

  The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has recognized Neurology Associates of Fredericksburg as a center for comprehensive care. The new partnership is a national program that supports quality care for multiple sclerosis patients. The Fredericksburg practice becomes the sixth center in Virginia, joining others in Charlottesville, Richmond and the Tidewater area, and one of 138 nationwide. 


   In March, surgeons at Reston Hospital Center performed the area’s first total knee replacement using Mako Technology, the latest innovation in total hip, partial knee, and now total knee replacement surgery. During the procedure a highly advanced surgeon-controlled robotic arm system aids in the accurate alignment and positioning of hip and knee implants.

  Earlier this year, University of Virginia Health System began construction on its new musculoskeletal center. The 195,000-square-foot facility will feature 95 exam rooms and six outpatient operating rooms. The new center is expected to cost $160 million and open in February 2022. 

  Since 2016, physicians at Sentara Martha Jefferson have seen a 13 percent increase in orthopaedic and sports medicine cases. The new nonprofit Sentara Sports Medicine Center, which opened in Charlottesville in January, is a collaboration between Sentara Healthcare and ACAC Fitness & Wellness Centers aimed at shortening the recovery time of patients

  Dr. Usman Zahir, a surgeon with Premier Orthopedics of Virginia, became the first doctor in Virginia to perform a laminectomy, a procedure to remove bone pressing against a nerve in the spine. Since that initial endoscopic procedure at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, he’s done 20 others to help repair the wear-and-tear of stenosis or to fix a herniated disc caused by a person lifting something too heavy.

Carilion Clinic


   Bon Secours Richmond Health System has been named as a recipient of the 2018 Business Award by the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP). This award recognizes businesses that support occupational health professionals and encourages their participation in AOHP programs and activities.

  In February, Carilion Clinic opened the Center for Simulation, Research and Patient Safety in Roanoke. The $5 million facility features skills labs that allow interns, residents, medical students, and paramedics to simulate surgeries and various emergency situations using high-tech mannequins and equipment. The center not only allows staff to practice procedures and improve techniques, but also provides an opportunity to study how medical personnel work and react in stressful situations. 

  Located at the crossroads of major Interstates 77 and 81, Wythe County Community Hospital in Wytheville sees a lot of vehicular accident patients. The hospital’s case management department created a patient care fund to assist with services that are not part of standard treatment—such as gas cards and hotel accommodations—for those stranded by vehicular accidents or who do not have the resources once discharged. 


   Physical and occupational therapists at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk use facility dogs as motivation for patients in rehabilitation. Asking patients to open a zippered pouch, remove a treat, and feed it to the dog promotes fine motor skill development. Teaching patients to extend an outstretched hand to stroke the dog helps build core strength and balance. Facility dogs also encourage patients to walk more steps and reach farther, helping them to meet their clinical goals. 

  Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Center has implemented Fitlight and Bioness training systems into its concussion program at the Reynolds campus in Richmond. Fitlight uses LED lights that are wirelessly controlled from a tablet as targets for patients to deactivate by touch during agility and coordination training. Bioness provides physical, visual, auditory, and cognitive assessments for patients through a touchscreen display. 

  The 10-bed medical detoxification unit at Southampton Memorial Hospital in Franklin was opened with the goal of fighting the opioid addiction crisis in Virginia. A seven-day detox program within the unit is designed to help break the cycle of addiction through treatment of withdrawal symptoms and development of a treatment plan and offers 24-hour nursing care, group therapy, and personalized nutrition.

University of Virginia Health


   Richmond Vascular Center in North Chesterfield is the first site in the country to offer the Ellipsys Vascular Access System, a minimally invasive procedure for patients with end-stage renal disease who require hemodialysis. The procedure can be performed in the physician’s office, but can also be used in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. 

  The new Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Program at University of Virginia Health System standardizes thoracic patient care through precautions like patient preparation before surgery, attention to nutrition, avoiding excessive intravenous fluids, and aggressive pain prevention. Due to its success, UVA has expanded the program to other areas, including gynecologic and orthopedic surgery.

  Dr. Christopher Good, the director of scoliosis and spinal deformity surgery at the Virginia Spine Institute, will be leading the launch of Reston Hospital Center’s Visiting Clinician Program. Partnering with Medtronic, the program will teach visiting surgeons the latest innovations in robotic assisted spine surgery using the Mazor X Robotic System.

  In May, the second phase of the Medarva West Creek Surgery Center in Goochland County was completed. This phase added 12,000 square feet to the building that had opened in July 2017. The 19,200-square-foot center is part of the West Creek Medical Park and includes their new ambulatory surgery facility, featuring five procedure rooms and two operating rooms.


   The Bon Secours Liver Institute of Virginia and UVA Health will collaboratively care for patients at Bon Secours’ facilities in Richmond and Newport News who may need liver transplants at UVA. Under the partnership, care teams from Bon Secours and UVA will co-manage patients at the Bon Secours Liver Institute of Virginia with liver disease—including those with advanced cirrhosis and liver cancer—who will be evaluated for a liver transplant. 

  Doctors at the University of Virginia Health System have started testing the drug Regadenoson, typically used to image cardiac patients’ hearts, as a way to prevent the rejection of lungs in patients after lung transplants. The rejection, called ischemia reperfusion injury, happens when blood flow is restored to tissue after it has been cut off. The drug will be tested in a phase 1 clinical trial with up to 21 patients.

  The Smithfield Foundation is giving a $75,000 challenge grant to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for the start up of their Timely Donor Referral system pilot. This new technology will update the current manual system hospital staffs use for notifying potential donors, streamlining the process of organ matching and increasing the number of organs available for transplant. Based in Richmond, UNOS serves as the nation’s organ transplant system.

This article originally appeared in our December 2018 issue.

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