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VCU Medical Center Emergency Department staff take a pause to honor lost patients

“The Pause” — a moment of silence after the death of a patient — recognizes the humanity of the patients and the health care team trying to save them.

RVAHub Staff

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By Alex Nowak

On a typical day, the VCU Medical Center Emergency Department treats 300 patients. The department, a Level I trauma center geographically situated on the main corridor from Maine to Miami, sees some of the worst tragedies from up and down the East Coast: shootings, mass-casualty incidents, freak accidents, and multi-vehicle pileups. Despite every quick action and resuscitation effort made by medical team members, lives are lost and friends and families are left to grieve.

But for the medical team in the midst of a 12-hour shift, there is no time to grieve as their minds and bodies race to save the dying patient in the next bed. Operating in such a relentless environment can lead to exhaustion and burnout. With a recent study finding that nearly two-thirds of U.S. doctors feel burned out, depressed or both, something as simple as taking a moment to reflect after each patient’s death could not only allow providers to be more present for each patient, but build resiliency within the staff.

That is why Julie Kacmarcik, clinical coordinator in the emergency department, and a dedicated team brought the seemingly simple — but oftentimes difficult to personally justify — concept of “The Pause” to VCU Medical Center.

VCU emergency department staff reenact The Pause. (Video by Joe Kuttenkuler, University Marketing)

The Pause is 30 to 45 seconds of silence immediately after the death of a patient to honor his or her life, and distinctly mark the importance of the moment at hand. It is a brief timeout for everyone involved in the events leading up to the death to collect, reflect and help bring closure. Beyond that, it’s a moment to acknowledge the tremendous effort and care offered by the health care team.

“We’re looking at a person in a bed who didn’t plan on coming in to see us that day, and didn’t expect their life to be ending. This is a brother, a friend, a dad,” said Kacmarcik, a 23-year veteran of the emergency department. “And we acknowledge and recognize the team that gave their heart and soul to try and resuscitate this patient. It’s realizing that, yes, I’m thinking about all the other folks we have to take care of, but just for this finite period of time, I’ll be in the moment with this patient and with my team members.”

As Russell Davis, Ph.D., VCU Health director of pastoral care, puts it, “It is an expression of our humanity. It allows for silent expression of real human emotions.”

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Bookbinder’s Brings you Mac & Cheese on Another Level with BIGWIFE’S Pop-Up

This isn’t your typical mom’s mac & cheese. If your mom makes mac & cheese like this we would like to be adopted.

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Old Original Bookbinder’s Seafood & Steakhouse has launched a new experimental pop-up concept focusing exclusively on macaroni and cheese. BIGWIFE’S Mac & Cheese is operating for delivery and carryout from the Bookbinder’s kitchen.

The inventive menu includes creative spins like Buffalo Mac with spicy chicken and gorgonzola cheese; Little Figgy Mac with goat cheese, ham and fig; Mac Lorraine with bacon, scallions, and gruyere; and Greek Wedding Mac with tomato, olive, artichokes, pepperoncini and feta. Any mac can be made gluten free.

Orders can be placed at https://www.bigwifesmac.com/ and via Grubhub. BIGWIFE’S is open Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Old Original Bookbinder’s is located at 2306 E Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23223.

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Crime

City of Richmond declares State of Emergency due to “credible threats” related to planned protests

The city’s declaration opens up funds for emergency use and was voted into effect unanimously by City Council Monday evening.

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The City of Richmond and Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration has declared a State of Emergency for the city due to what officials call “credible threats” of violence related to planned protests leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.

The declaration follows Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a statewide State of Emergency, which allowed the administration to send National Guard troops and State Troopers to Washington, D.C. to help with security, logistics, and other immediate needs following the insurrection at the Capitol last week.

The city’s declaration opens up funds for emergency use and was voted into effect unanimously by City Council Monday evening.

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Business

Family of local freight and transportation company makes $2 million donation to children’s hospital construction project

The Children’s Hospital Foundation’s matching campaign effectively will double the gift to $4 million.

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A local freight and transportation provider has made a major gift towards the construction of the forthcoming Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU expansion. In addition to the company’s gift of $150,000, Estes family members committed $1.85 million to support the Wonder Tower, the new home for Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU’s inpatient, emergency, and trauma services.

The two donations from Estes Express Lines and the Estes family were matched by the Children’s Hospital Foundation, maximizing the total investment in the Wonder Tower to $4 million. As part of the capital campaign to raise $100 million, the foundation is matching the first $25 million in gifts from the community.

“The support of Estes Express Lines and the Estes family is extremely meaningful. We’re grateful they’ve added their voice and support to our mission to build a world-class pediatric hospital in Richmond,” said Lauren Moore, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital Foundation. “They’re truly a values-focused company and family, and their gifts reflect the importance they place on protecting children and their childhoods.”

“We are a family-owned business that’s had the honor of working with thousands of Richmond-area families for nearly 90 years,” said Rob Estes, president and CEO of Estes Express Lines. “Children deserve the best possible medical care when they need it, and we’re proud to support Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, as a company, and as a family.”

As part of the donation, some areas of the Wonder Tower will be named in honor of Estes, including the hospital’s loading dock, a nod to their work as a freight carrier business. The gift includes additional recognition of the family’s generosity throughout the building.

Once complete in spring 2023, the Wonder Tower will bring world-class pediatric facilities to Central Virginia. Located in downtown Richmond, the 16-story tower will be home to CHoR’s Level 1 pediatric trauma center, emergency room, inpatient units, new operating rooms, increased imaging capacity, and family amenities — all in an environment created just for kids and their loved ones.

“The children’s tower is being built for and by our community thanks to generous friends like the Estes,” said Elias Neujahr, CEO of CHoR. “It will be a beacon of hope for kids and families across the Commonwealth while helping us attract and retain top talent so our children have access to be the best care, close to home.”

In 2021, Estes Express Lines will celebrate its 90th anniversary as CHoR finishes its centennial year. “Let’s all come together to support the Wonder Tower, a special place where all families and children can receive exceptional pediatric care, right here in Richmond,” said Estes.

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