Our Youthful Outlook

“As a community hospital we tend to focus more on the adult population, but we saw the need to reach out to our youth about health, safety and career awareness. We want to teach kids skills they can use throughout their lives,” says Melissa Stalbird, RN, manager of education, training and development at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital.

Safe Sitters

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Well-prepared babysitters are a great asset. The Safe Sitter class teaches students valuable skills for managing the well-being of their young charges and themselves. We teach safe and nurturing childcare techniques, behavior-management skills and how to handle emergencies that may arise,” says Stalbird.

One session is for ages 11-13 and another for 14 and 15. Students learn introductory business skills, from tips on choosing babysitting jobs to negotiating an hourly rate. They become mini-experts on handling emergencies, are taught CPR and are tested on their skills. When the class is over, says Stalbird, students are prepared to handle a wide variety of sitter jobs. “I think they feel more confident,” says Stalbird. “They can’t wait to show their parents some of the skills they’ve learned.”

Future Healthcare Providers

Many children say they want to be a doctor or a nurse when they grow up. But few know much about hospitals and the variety of careers available. They’s why, several summers ago, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital invited middle schoolers to Camp MCIS (Medical Care Investigators at SMH). The one-week day camp is a fun, interactive introduction to the medical setting.

Students visit various hospital departments, meet staff, and get to try CPR, start an IV, give injections and use surgical instruments. They also explore an ambulance and a medevac helicopter. According to camper Cassie C., a rising 8th grader, “The most exciting things were when we did the surgical stuff and having a wheelchair race. I’m now considering a career in surgery or in the medical field in general.”

Increasing Stamina

Without help, two out of three overweight children in America will become overweight and obese adults. The SMH physical therapy staff offers an in-school program called STAMINA (Students Taking Action Making Improvements in Nutrition and Activity). In its sixth year, the program helps fourth grade students at all three Shenandoah County elementary schools learn to take responsibility for their healthy. “We saw a need for some community intervention to improve nutrition and activity awareness among children,” say Laura Fogle, PT. She and Kyle Sine, DPT, visit each school 3 times a year.

Students receive a T-shirt, healthy snack and workbook with activities for the classroom and home. Physical education teachers test students at the beginning and end of the school year to check for improvement in the physical test scores. STAMINA has received tremendous support from the SMH Foundation and a variety of local businesses. “The hospital wants to encourage health and wellness and it starts with the children,” says Fogle.

For more information about Safe Sitter classes, Camp MCIS or STAMINA, call 540-459-1220 or email mstalbird@valleyhealthlink.com.

Healthy School Lunches

Buying lunch at school can sometimes be the first time that kids get to call the shots on which foods they will choose to eat. While school lunches have improved over the years, some still exceed recommendations for fat, and kids can still choose an unhealthy mix of foods day after day.

Lunch can be a great opportunity for you as parents to steer your kids toward good choices by emphasizing how a nutritious meal at lunch will give them enough energy to finish school and participate in fun after-school activities. Simple changes like whole wheat bread instead of white bread and low fat yogurt or pudding instead of a Little Debbie cupcake can make all the difference in providing kids long-lasting energy versus sugar spikes and crashes.

Help your kids make the right choices by looking over the cafeteria menu together and recommending the healthier options – or have them pack a lunch occasionally.  One tip to encourage kids to want to pack a lunch is to bring them to the store with you to help pick out the healthy foods they’d like you to include in their lunch every day. That opportunity allows them to understand how to pick out healthy options from an early age and get excited about making those yummy, more nutritious choices.

In the video below Valley Health’s Director of Nutrition Therapy, Susan Lessar, walks us through some healthy lunch options for your kids.

Back in the Game

After receiving lifesaving treatment at Winchester Medical Center, 73-year-old Bill Isaacson was brought home to recover at Hampshire Memorial Hospital. When he first arrived, his speech was slurred, he was unable to move the right side of his body and he was in extreme pain.

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During the first days oh his rehabilitation, Isaacson, with the aid of a physical therapist, began bedside exercises designed to strengthen his body and restore his range of motion. “Every day he was determined,” recalls Mike Menear, DPT, the physical therapist who worked closely with Isaacson throughout his recovery. “He’s one of the most motivated individuals I’ve ever met.”

Six days after his arrival at the hospital, Isaacson took his first steps. He attributes his rapid  recovery to his team of therapists. “It’s the best teamwork that I’ve had,” says Isaacson. “They believe that I can do it. That’s the whole thing-they’re behind me.”

Regaining his mobility and independence was hard work, but his efforts paid off. After just six weeks, Isaacson was referred to Hampshire Wellness & Fitness, a 50,000-square-foot facility that has been awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award by the Medical Fitness Association. A specialized staff of degreed and certified fitness specialists, dietitians and health educators work with each member to develop a customized medical fitness program. The facility offers weight training, cardiovascular training, lap and warm-water therapy pools, a fitness track and an aerobic studio.

For Isaacson, a former football player who served on the management team for the Baltimore Colts, his illness proved to be a temporary setback that he overcame with the help of a dedicated team.

“It’s nice to know that you don’t have to travel far to receive comprehensive rehabilitative services in a state-of-the-art fitness center,” says Trina Cox, director of Hampshire Wellness & Fitness, who is also a certified athletic trainer and certified group exercise instructor. “We have all of these services right here in your hometown.” Hampshire Memorial Hospital and Hampshire Wellness & Fitness are linked, allowing patients to have the same therapist as they transition from inpatient to outpatient care.

For more information about rehabilitation services, visit http://www.valleyhealthlink.com/hampshire

Calling All Kids! New Pediatric Specialist at PMH

New mom and certified pediatric nurse practitioner Ginger Richardson, PNP, has been a welcome addition to the team at Page Healthcare Associates in Luray. Before she arrived in May, parents had to drive out of the county, up to an hour away to see a practitioner who specializes in pediatrics.

“The practice wanted to bring pediatric services here so that parents – especially those with new babies – wouldn’t have to travel as far,” Richardson says. “We have family practice physicians here who see children but I’m the only pediatric specialist.”



Richardson moved to the area with her husband from Deltaville, Va, and is delighted to be here. She felt very welcomed by patients and families who appreciate her family-centered approach. “I really get involved with my patients. I try to get to know the whole family and help them feel comfortable here.”

When it comes to providing services for children, Richardson does it all – newborn physicals, kindergarten checkups, sports and Boy Scout physicals. “I see kids for a variety of issues, from mental health care concerns such as ADHD and depression, to acne treatment, wart removal – you name it. And, of course, colds, strep throat, pneumonia, ear infections – all kinds of basic illnesses.”

She sees her young patients every day, all day. “I do well-baby and well-child care,” she continues. “My patients range in age from newborns to kids 18-to-21 years old when I transition them to an adult-care provider.”

Pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) are healthcare providers with advanced education in pediatric nursing and healthcare who offer a variety of services, including examinations and screenings, immunizations, and diagnosis and treatment of common childhood illnesses. “As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I take a holistic approach and spend quite a bit of time education my patients and families,” she continues.

Shortly after starting practice, she received generous support from the PMH Auxiliary and Reach Out & Read, an evidence-based, nonprofit initiative that promotes early literacy and school readiness by providing new books for pediatric exam rooms nationwide. “Reach Out and Read encourages kids to read early,” she says. “One of the best ways to do that is through primary care, because I see kids a lot earlier than the schools do. So, at every well-child visit, starting at six months and through kindergarten, I give each child a book and remind the family why reading together is so important.”

She says this is especially important in rural areas with a small percentage of high school graduates who go on to college. “There’s some interesting research that shows that lower-income families often have fewer than 10 books in the whole house,” she continues. “Through Reach Out & Read, they get a whole library of children’s books. And that’s a good thing.”

Page Healthcare Associates is in a new medical office building on the PMH campus. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 540-743-2987 or go to http://www.valleyhealthlink.com/pmhphysicians.

A Convenient Option: Hospital Clinic Brings Specialists to Luray

The Page Multi-Specialty Clinic (PMSC) has moved to renovated space on the Page Memorial Hospital campus. With the move, a new and in-demand specialty–cardiology–was added to the Clinic’s menu of services.


Neil Gaither, MD, brings cardiology services to Page.

The new location offers more space and potential for expanded services close to home for local residents. Specialists from Valley Health and other area practitioners come to the clinic on a regular basis to serve patients in Page County. “The providers are wonderful,” says Heather Knight, PMSC office manager. “They are very nice and accommodating to our patients.”

The clinic opened more than 20 years ago when Page Memorial Hospital recognized the need for specialty care in the area and decided to do something about it, Knight says. “We saw that patients weren’t going to their follow-up appointments because they didn’t have the transportation or the money to get to Winchester, Harrisonburg or Charlottesville [to see the specialists their family practice physicians recommended]. This is an opportunity to keep patient care as local as possible, so it is convenient for the patient. It’s an important service we offer to the community.”

Knight sees a bright future for the PMSC. “We continue to grow and are constantly evaluating the need for different specialists. We are hoping to attract more practices,” she says. “It’s such a convenience for our patients.”

Specialties offered at PMSC: Cardiology, General Surgery, Neurology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Pulmonology and Urology.

Page Multi-Specialty Clinic is located at 125 Memorial Drive. To learn more about the specialized care available there, call 540-743-2282 or visit our website at http://www.valleyhealthlink.com/pmhphysicians.

Hometown Doctor: Why Dr. Amanda Michael Came Home to Practice

Amanda Michael, DO, has never really been far from home. She completed her undergraduate degree at West Virginia University in Morgantown and received her medical degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg. “I’ve lived in Berkeley Springs my whole life, except for college and medical school,” she says. “And my residency was within an hour from home.”

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Immediately after finishing her three-year residency in family medicine with Shenandoah Valley Family Practice Residency Program, Dr. Michael opened Michael Family Practice, her new medical office in Berkeley Springs in July. “I’m very lucky to be coming back home to practice and take care of my neighbors,” she says. “I really enjoy the variety of patients that I see. As a family physician, I’ll have an opportunity to care for them throughout their life, seeing them grow from children to young adults and on through mid-life and their elderly years. It’s very rewarding.”

A positive hospital experience as an 8-year-old led Dr. Michael to the medical field. “My doctor really made an impression on me. He was caring and very confident. I wanted to be like that.”

Dr. Michael practices osteopathy, a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on total body health through treatment and strengthening of the musculoskeletal system. “It’s a ‘whole person’ approach to medicine,” she says. “I actually spent a lot of extra training in that specialty.” With growing interest in natural, drug-free health care, it’s an approach her patients seem open to learning more about. “I do everything-traditional as well as osteopathic medicine,” Dr. Michael adds.

Dr. Michael is on staff at War Memorial Hospital. “One of the big pluses about Amanda is that she worked in the medical field for several years before attending medical school,” says Neil McLaughlin, president of War Memorial. “People respect her for continuing her interest in serving the community as a physician. She’s been excited about coming back for nearly as long as she’s been gone.”

When she isn’t seeing patients, she and her husband Scott enjoy a trip to the river. “I love to fish and kayak on the Cacapon River. Most of my husband’s fishing stories end with ‘and Amanda fell out of the boat,'” she adds with a laugh.

What does she think about the new hospital? “The new facility is wonder,” she says. “It’s a beautiful place. I think we’re putting all the pieces together to provide what this community has needed for a very long time.”

Michael Family Practice is located at 2055 Valley Road in Berkeley Springs, WV. To schedule an appointment, call 304-258-8824.

Settling In: Technology Meets Tradition in New Hospital

In July, War Memorial Hospital marked 65 years of serving the community. For the first time, hospital staff are caring for local residents from an entirely new facility nearly twice the size of the old hospital.


The new 87,000-square-foot building opened in April and features a 25-bed inpatient acute care/skilled unit with a 16-bed extended care facility. Designed for easy access, the hospital’s first floor includes the emergency department, surgery department, medical imaging, laboratory, respiratory services, cardiac rehab, nursing home and cafe.

Among the many improvements from the old facility are the new, light and airy environment and spacious emergency department. “The ER in the old facility wasn’t conducive to patient privacy and didn’t accommodate all the desired equipment,” says Neil McLaughlin, president of War Memorial. “Our new unit is designed for easy patient flow, and we have larger exam and treatment rooms dedicated for cardiac, trauma and observation patients. It’s a much more user-friendly atmosphere.”

And even though the radiology department was already entirely digital, McLaughlin is proud of the fact that the hospital recently began the conversion to an electric medical record (EMR) system. “We’ve been a paper-based facility in the past and we’re making the changeover to electronic records. Due to the physical limitations and infrastructure of the building we wouldn’t have been able to do that in the old hospital.”

McLaughlin was born at the original War Memorial Hospital and has spent much of his professional career there. “Primary care is best done locally. I believe that medicine is better received when you know the people who are taking care of you,” he says. “One of the things we feel we do well at War Memorial is connect with our patients and residents on a personal level.”

We invite local residents to have their health care needs met at our new facility at 1 Healthy War (off Fairview Drive) in Berkeley Springs. Learn more about our services and physicians at http://www.valleyhealthlink.com/war.

Taking Control of Epilepsy

One in a hundred Americans has epilepsy. Most manage the disease effectively with medication, but those unable to control their seizures must live with restrictions. Driving and operating machinery, some types of work, caring for a child, and other everyday pleasures and responsibilities hold risks in the even of a sudden seizure.

Brain surgery is a safe and effective therapy for patients with intractable epilepsy. Two local patients, Faith Cyr and Rex Terwilliger, had brain surgery for their epilepsy through The Virginia Comprehensive Epilepsy Program in Winchester, headed by neurologist and epileptologist Paul Lyons, MD, PhD, and neurosurgeon Lee Selznick, MD. A second epiletologist, Craig Henry, MD, joined the program in late summer.

The program has been designated a Level 4 Epilepsy Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Center, certifying that it has the expertise and facilities to provide the highest level of evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy. The Winchester program is one of the one two non-academic Level 4 centers in the U.S.

Faith and Rex

At the age of 12, Faith Cyr of Berryville was diagnosed with epilepsy. Throughout her adolescence, medications helped-but did not completely control-her seizures. When Cyr was 17, Dr. Lyons suggested surgery. “At first I was upset at the thought, but Dr.Lyons said it would reduce or eliminate my seizures,” recalls Cyr, now 21. “If I were to ever find a genie in a bottle, getting rid of the seizures would definitely be one of my wishes.”

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Rex Terwilliger, 47, of Winchester, was diagnosed with epilepsy in July 2008. “Iwas up to about 15 pills a day at one point,” he explains. “Medications reduced the number of seizures, but I still couldn’t drive or work.” Terwilliger, like Cyr, decided that surgery was the best option.

Clear Expectations

Epilepsy is a complex disease that is often difficult to diagnose. “Proper diagnosis involves lots of testing and requires a team of experts to evaluate symptoms that can be very subtle or confusing, ” explains Dr. Lyons. “However, patients should expect  a definitive diagnosis and prognosis before a treatment plan can be created.” For example, some epilepsy can be controlled with medication, but if it can’t, what are the other options? Also, the treatment plan should address questions about the impact on lifestyle and development. “Parents may worry about epilepsy affecting their child’s development,” says Dr. Lyons. “Adults worry about keeping a job or caring for their children. These issues need to be considered and included in the short-and long-term treatment plans.”

“Epilepsy is more common than people think,” says Dr. Selznick. “Many patients in our region have epilepsy, but treatment programs have traditionally been at university medical centers, so epilepsy surgery has been underutilized here.”

Living the Dream

Dr. Selznick points out that Cyr was an ideal patient for surgery. “The late teen years is a good time for surgery. Without seizure control, epilepsy patients generally can’t live independently, which is very tough to swallow when you’re 18. We knew if we could get Faith’s seizures under control, she could gain that functional independence to get on with her adult life.”

After her surgery, Cyr went from taking four medications to one, and her seizures are now controlled. “The only seizure I’ve had since the surgery was [due to hormone fluctuations] when I went into labor, but we were both fine,” says Cyr. “I have my learner’s driving permit and I work now. So I have my own little happy family with my daughter.”

Terwilliger had similar success after his surgery. “I’ve had no seizures since the surgery, my severe headaches are gone and I feel much better,” he says. “Before surgery, my biggest fear was going out with my family and never knowing when a seizure would hit. But that’s resolved.” He is elated that he can care for his 6-year-old daughter without help and encourages other through the Epilepsy Support Group in Winchester.

Exceeding Expectations

“In our first five years, we’ve exceeded national outcome standards,” explains Dr. Selznick. “Of the 15 patients who have had epilepsy surgery here, 13 are now seizure-free and the other two have had significant reduction in the number and severity of their seizures.” “I encourage epilepsy patients and their families to stay optimistic,” continues Dr. Lyons. “Some patients have had seizures for decades, which can be discouraging, but help is right around the corner.”

To learn more about epilepsy services at Winchester Medical Center, visit http://www.valleyhealthlink.com/neuro.

Getting on Track & Staying There

From Luray to Berkeley Springs, Valley Health has experts available to help you set realistic health and fitness goal, stay motivated and celebrate your success! We asked several of them for just one tip they would offer someone eager to make a lifestyle change. Here’s what they had to say:

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1. Break Your Goal Down – Want to make a change? Ask yourself, “What one action step toward that goal will I commit to today?” If you can’t commit to one action, then ask, “Is this goal truly important, or are other things more important to me right now?”

  • Break a big goal down into much smaller steps of action
  • Write your goal down, read it every day, and share it with a supportive friend or family member. Update that friend on your progress at least once a week.

Delsie McCoy; MS, Health Educator, Valley Health Wellness Services

2. Plan Your Meals and Workouts – Record your workouts on your calendar like an appointment. Know what you plan to do when you walk in the gym and what you plan to eat 90% of the time.

Jessica Bowling, Wellness Life Coach/Health Educator, Warren Memorial Hospital 

3. Eat Your Veggies – Eat at least one serving of colorful vegetables at lunch and dinner each day. Plan lunch and dinner around a vegetable and then add a protein, grain, fruit and lowfat dairy product.

Sara Kuykendall, RD, Dietitian, Valley Health Wellness Services

4. Choose Change – A favorite saying of mine is “when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, change will occur.”

Susie Carter, Health Educator, Valley Health Wellness Services

5. Slow & Steady – I have found that most clients are trying too hard to do too much too soon. And then they lose enjoyment. Be persistent, but gentle with yourself. Don’t let yourself off the hook, but slow and steady wins the race!

Deborah Kilgore Inaba, MS, ACSM-RCEP, MBAc, Exercise Specialist, Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center

6. Enjoy the Ride – Only work on one or two things at a time. Make the change and give yourself enough time for it to become a habit. You will have a few lapses along the way, but don’t allow the small lapse to become a relapse. Celebrate your successes as you go. Have fun! You are a Super Star!

Angela Harden-Mack, MD, Internist, Winchester Medical Center Bariatric Program

If you’re looking for an expert push in the right direction, Valley Health’s fitness specialists, dietitians, health educators and physicians can help. Call 800-662-7831 or visit http://www.valleyhealthlink.com/wellness&fitness.

Happy Babies, Happy Parents

After the birth of her first child 14 years ago, Misty Warren was eager to improve on the experience. Nothing went particularly wrong – her baby was healthy – but she wanted her next delivery to be more positive. “I felt I was pretty well-educated about childbirth, but I guess you just don’t know what you don’t know until you experience it yourself,” she says. As Misty found answers to her questions, she saw a clear opportunity to alter her approach for the birth of her second child. She also created a path to a new career helping other women and their families.


Now an internationally certified childbirth educator, Warren is clinical coordinator of Family Education for Women and Children’s Services at Winchester Medical Center, where she helps pregnant women and their partners throughout the area prepare for childbirth, breastfeeding and other family changes. Classes are held on Saturdays and weekday evenings, and fathers or partners are encouraged to attend.

A new two-hour class, Happiest Baby of the Block, shares the findings of pediatrician Harvey Karp, MD, a child development specialist on the faculty of the University of Southern California. Attendees learn Dr.Karp’s tips for soothing colic, promoting infant sleep, reducing tantrums and encouraging patience. They also take home his DVD and a soothing sounds CD.

The session has been well-received, Warren says. “An inconsolable baby can make the postpartum time very stressful. Understanding why babies fuss and learning about ways to calm them – and yourselves – can make such a difference in how a new family bonds and grows in love.”

Warren welcomes new and soon-to-be parents. “That’s the fun part, when we have new moms with babies and pregnant women in class together, sharing info back and forth,” she says.

We offer classes at Valley Health hospitals for new families before and after delivery. Visit us at http://www.valleyhealthlink.com/women-children.

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