Author: VA Womens Health

5 Things to Know About Robotic Surgery For Gynecologic Cancer

Medical technology continues to improve and innovate the way surgeons can perform surgery. Robotic surgery was approved by the FDA in 2005 and is a relatively new less-invasive technique, but different from both laparoscopic and open surgery. Before undergoing any kind of surgery for gynecologic cancer, discuss with Virginia Women’s Health these 5 things to know about robotic surgery for gynecologic cancer. 

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COVID-19 Information

Considering the recent pandemic noted with the Coronavirus, we are doing our best to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum while also continuing to provide the best care to our patients. With that in mind, all patients will be screened prior to their appointments. We will be contacting you prior to your appointment to ask several screening questions, and we will check your temperature on arrival to the office.

Updates on the virus are changing daily and we will do our best to keep you all as well informed as we can. Remember that the best prevention is still doing simple things like social distancing and proper hand washing!

These screening questions are taken from the CDC and WHO recommendations and will be the following:

  1. Have you traveled to Iran, Italy, China, South Korea, Japan, or on a cruise in the last 14 days?
  2. Have you been directly exposed to someone with confirmed Coronavirus or a person under investigation?
  3. Are you part of an organizational quarantine (school, place of worship, transportation)?

If you answer “yes” to any of these screening questions, we ask that you not come into the office. The CDC recommends a two-week self-quarantine for any person with these risk factors. Please call our office and we would be happy to answer any questions and reschedule your appointment for after that two-week window. More importantly, if you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, chest pain or trouble breathing, please go to the closest emergency room or urgent care center to be evaluated.

We ask that if you test positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), and you have seen us for an appointment in the last two weeks, please let us know so that we can properly alert the staff and patients who may have been exposed.

We obviously are doing our best to limit everyone’s exposure to the virus and keep both patients and staff safe, but if you have any questions or in need of care even if you are self-quarantined, our nurse triage and medical staff are still available by phone (703-435-2555) and we’re also using telemedicine solution (DOXY.ME) for office visits. We will be updating our screening questions and website as more information becomes available.

We truly appreciate your help and patience in this difficult situation.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections. In the past, we have seen other coronaviruses like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

COVID-19 is the most recently discovered member of the coronavirus family.

Coronavirus is in the United States. What does this mean for me?

On February 25, 2020 the CDC confirmed its first case of coronavirus in a US resident with no travel history to a high-risk country. Nor did the individual encounter a known carrier.

While the CDC attempts to trace all cases of coronavirus, currently the risk of contracting coronavirus for the average American remains LOW.

The CDC is watching the situation closely as it evolves.

At VWHA we will continue to work with our partners in healthcare as we monitor coronavirus and any change in its status.

How is coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus is a new disease that scientists are still researching. The World Health Organization believes that the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Aches and pains
  • Runny nose, sore throat
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

Because symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu, it’s important to consider other factors that might put you at greater risk of having coronavirus:

  • Recent travel to countries where coronavirus has a large presence (e.g. China, South Korea, Italy, Japan or Iran).
  • Recent contact with anyone that has traveled to one of these countries in the last few weeks.
  • Living or working in a community (in the United States) where local or state health officials have confirmed cases of coronavirus.

What should I do if I suspect I have coronavirus?

If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, runny nose) it’s important to remember that you probably do NOT have coronavirus.

In consideration of our patients, we ask that if you have flu-like symptoms such as cough or fever, please consider rescheduling your appointment for another time and being evaluated at either your primary care provider or in an urgent care setting to ensure that you are being cared for appropriately.

If you have traveled outside of the continental United States, particularly in Asia, we ask that you consider scheduling your appointment no sooner than two weeks after your return to ensure no symptomatology develops in that time frame.

However, we ask that any patient with flu-like symptoms and a recent travel history to parts of the world including China, Iran, South Korea or Italy (or if you have been in contact with someone that has recently traveled to these countries) call ahead before coming into the office. This will allow staff to properly assess you in a safe and appropriate setting when you arrive.

Additionally, take sensible precautions by staying home from work or school until you’ve spoken to a medical professional who can provide further guidance.

Thank you for helping us take precautions and advocate for all our patients! If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to call our office to speak with one of our providers.

How is coronavirus diagnosed?

At this time, testing for coronavirus is conducted through the CDC. If a doctor or healthcare provider suspects that you have coronavirus, they will be in direct contact with the appropriate authorities to determine if testing is needed.

How is coronavirus treated?

Most people (about 80%) recover from coronavirus without the need for special treatment or hospitalization.

In a very small number of cases, patients with severe symptoms and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. These patients may require hospitalization and will receive supportive care to help relieve the worst of their symptoms.

Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against coronavirus (COVID-19).

What are some steps I can take to protect myself and my family from coronavirus?

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from coronavirus is by following good hygiene steps as listed below:

  • Wash your hands frequently and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • When washing your hands with soap and water, do so for at least 20 seconds. Wash hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (e.g. coughing into your elbow or into a tissue).
  • Stay at home when you’re sick.
  • Avoid touching your face particularly after touching other surfaces.
  • Maintain at least 1-meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep a small bottle of alcohol-based sanitizer that you can use if you’re not able to wash your hands readily with soap and water.
  • Get your flu shot. The flu shot does not provide protection against coronavirus but having an active flu infection weakens the immune system. This can make you more susceptible to coronavirus.

Do I need to wear a mask?

Yes, masks are required for all office visitors.  If you do not have a mask, you can purchase a surgical mask from the office for $1.00.

Coronavirus and pregnancy. Is there an increased risk?

Pregnant women experience natural physiological changes to their bodies while pregnant. Some of these changes make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including coronavirus. As such, pregnant patients have been identified as a high-risk population when exposed to the Flu or Coronavirus. The CDC suggests that pregnant women should engage in usual preventive actions to avoid infection like washing hands often and avoiding people who are sick.

If you are pregnant and suspect that you have coronavirus or may have come into contact with someone that does, call your local healthcare provider immediately.

Where can I get more reliable information about coronavirus?

For detailed, accurate and real-time information on the status of the virus and its risk to residents, please visit the following websites:

  1. World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
  2. CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  3. Your own state and local health authorities may provide more detailed information on their website that is specific to your area.

References

COVID-19 Update

Thank you for being patient with the staff and providers at VWHA during this very difficult time in global healthcare. We’ve been actively updating our policies based on recommendations from the CDC who as you know are increasing restrictions regarding social distancing particularly in medical environments that increase risk for exposure. In that light, we are modifying our policy for the office regarding visitors to the following:

1. Only allowing the patient in the office.
We are doing our best to prescreen every patient for risk factors prior to coming into the office. We cannot effectively screen every support person as well, so we are trying to minimize patient and provider risk by limiting numbers. Please be cognizant of any risk factors your partner may have for the virus including flu like illness and help us by keeping them home if any risk is present.

2. No children in the office.
We realize your children are home from school, but we ask that you participate with our telemedicine option to avoid finding childcare in lieu of bringing them with you to your visits. Again, we are doing this for the safety of your kids, you as a patient, our other patients and our providers.

3. Telemedicine Appointments

We’re pleased to offer telemedicine appointments during this time. If you have an appointment that is non-emergent such as a well woman exam, our office will convert this visit into a telehealth consult and this will allow authorization for renewal of medication(s). Please schedule your well woman appointment in three months. For example, if you would like to discuss family planning options, painful periods, irregular periods, preparing for pregnancy, fertility questions, biopsy, ultrasound, bone density, mammogram, and lab results. Please call our office to schedule a telemedicine appointment with one of our physicians.

4. Urgent Appointments

If you have an urgent issue, please call our office and we will make exceptions on a case by case basis only.

Again, thank you for your patience. Please be kind to our administrative staff who are attempting to reinforce all these policies while attempting to keep you and your family safe and healthy.

5. Non-Critical Appointments
We strongly recommend that you schedule a telemedicine appointment to address any health questions or concerns. If you’re coming in for a simple well woman exam, we can easily reschedule your visit in one or two months when the risk of Coronavirus will hopefully have diminished.

6 Life Lessons From Living With Endometriosis

Coping with endometriosis is a constant struggle. This painful disorder causes tissue that should be lining the uterus to grow outside of it and in various other places. If you are currently struggling with endometriosis, or beginning to suspect it might be the source of your pain, these 6 life lessons from living with endometriosis may help you cope somewhat better.

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Natural Remedies and Lifestyle Changes for Fibroid Treatment

Women who suffer with fibroid pain and excessive bleeding are always looking for something to relieve their symptoms. These non-cancerous growths in the uterus can cause severe pain and interfere with a woman’s daily life, but not not all women have symptoms. If you are one of the unlucky ones, take some time to look at these alternative natural remedies and lifestyle changes for fibroid treatment.

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Travel Warnings and Tips for Pregnant Women

If you decide to vacation, visit old friends, or must travel for work, pregnancy shouldn’t stop you from flying or driving to your destination. As long as you are having a normal pregnancy and you have gotten the OK from Virginia Women’s Health, travel is generally approved and safe, but there are some caveats.

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Preventing Breast Cancer in Your Everyday Life

Do you wake up every morning thinking about preventing breast cancer in your everyday life? We seriously doubt it, but if you are someone with a higher risk for breast cancer due to your family or your age, maybe you should consider paying more attention to preventative strategies. There are some simple and specific changes you can make to help lower your risk for breast cancer. 

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