Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is now available to women in labor at three campuses of the Bon Secours Richmond Health System.
The gas is effective in pain management during labor and is minimally invasive, according to a release. It has been available since March 2014 at St. Mary’s Hospital on Bremo Road in Richmond, and is now available at St. Francis Medical Center in Midlothian and Memorial Regional Medical Center on Atlee Road in Mechanicsville.
“Today’s women have grown up feeling empowered to accomplish anything that they set out to do, and for some of them, this includes having a baby in the most natural way, if possible,” according to Dr. Cara Golish Hartle, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Virginia Physicians for Women. “The doctors and nurses at Bon Secours have embraced the low-intervention birth model and wanted to support women by offering safe, proven tools such as nitrous oxide to help them manage pain during labor and delivery.”
Women in labor can take the edge off the pain when contractions intensify by inhaling the gas, which is administered in a 50-50 mix with oxygen. It allows them to remain awake and in control throughout labor, according to the release.
“The longer you can go without the epidural, the shorter the labor,” says Hartle. “Nitrous can help women accomplish a low-intervention birth if that’s what they want to do. Then, if they choose to use nitrous as a bridge to an epidural, they are satisfied that every option was attempted.”
Save the Date
You can help throw a lifeline to someone in need, and enjoy some sumptuous chocolate, too, at the 11th annual Chocoholic fundraiser for Family Lifeline on Feb. 3 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The event will feature an array of chocolate creations from Richmond area bakers, chocolatiers and specialty shops. Participants include Williams Bakery, Lil’ Stuff Cookies, Gearharts Fine Chocolates, Chocolate Cravings and The Mixing Bowl Bakery.
More than 2,000 pounds of chocolate has been consumed at the event over a decade, and the fundraiser has generated more than a half-million dollars to help Family Lifeline provide support, wellness and educational services to those in need across the area, according to a release.
A full bar will be open, and the event also will feature a silent auction with prizes including original art and private wine tastings.
Tickets are $75 to the event, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. at the museum, 200 N. Boulevard. Tickets include food, entertainment and two drinks. Tickets are available here, or by calling 804-249-5424.
Honoring Choices Grant
It’s good to share, especially when the incentive is a $100,000 federal grant.
The one-year grant goes to Honoring Choices of Virginia, which will use the proceeds to develop a system in which various health care providers can share a patient’s advance care planning documents.
Honoring Choices is an advance care planning, collaborative project of Bon Secours Richmond, HCA Virginia and the VCU Health System. It’s led by the Richmond Academy of Medicine. The grant project will be led by VCU Health, according to a release from the Academy of Medicine.
The grant is from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and is one of two nationally that were chosen by AcademyHealth and its Electronic Data Methods Forum to “seek creative strategies to meet shared challenges and to foster collaboration throughout the country, with the overall goal of improving health for patients and populations.”
Brian Cassel, assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, is principal investigator for the grant project. “Our EDM Forum Collaborative Project will take this to the next level – ensuring that patients’ wishes can be known and thus honored across all settings and providers,” he says in a release. “A patient can complete a plan in one system, but then show up in the emergency department of another system at any time. It is vital that we work together as a community to recognize and address this.”
Honoring Choices wants to develop an action plan and technical strategy document through the grant, and will encourage health care providers to participate. They hope to develop a template for a system that can be used across the nation.
A Deadly Epidemic
Drug overdose deaths rose 14.7 percent in Virginia in 2014, twice the national rate, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s part of a surge in overdose fatalities across the nation, with a record number of drug-abuse deaths in 2014, and a 137 percent surge in drug overdose deaths since 2010. The CDC attributes the rise to an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and a surge in heroin abuse in recent years. Deaths from opioid overdose increased 200 percent from 2010 to 2014.
That means 500,000 Americans overdosed and died over those years.
The fatality rate in the commonwealth (11.7 per 100,000 residents) was still below the national average (14.7 per 100,000). West Virginia, an epicenter of the epidemic, saw 35.5 overdose fatalities per 100,000 residents from 2013 to 2014.