(Kate is the mother of 6 Children, 3 of whom have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a form of Dysautonomia. She is a Registered Nurse who works with patients with chronic and acute health conditions, and is also a Family Nurse Practitioner student at James Madison University.)
Last year, as I sat in my son’s cardiology appointment, I learned from Dr. Hasan Abdallah about the most amazing project he is planning right here in Fauquier: a pediatric rehabilitation center in Opal as part of his Opal Gateway vision. This will be an extraordinarily comprehensive facility which could very likely become a nationally recognized destination for families of children with neurological, cardiac, musculoskeletal, psychiatric, and other medical conditions.
We need the support from the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and the community to make this vision a reality for many of us with children who can benefit from Dr. Abdallah’s dream. We urge you to get behind the Opal Gateway project so that the Pediatric Rehabilitation Village will happen. (Read more about the project HERE.)
Many of us know children with conditions that affect the brain and the body, such as autonomic dysfunction. I mention autonomic dysfunction because this touches my own family. I have three children with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS, a form of dysautonomia. Many have never heard of POTS or dysautonomia.
This is a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system regulates functions in the body which happen automatically. These include the heart beating and narrowing or widening of blood vessels to compensate for changes in position or blood volume. When this system malfunctions, individuals have symptoms such as a racing heart rate, disabling fatigue, nausea, headache, dizziness, and fainting.
These symptoms may start as soon as someone with POTS opens his eyes and begins to lift his head from the pillow and are often relieved by lying down. Many children with POTS begin to feel a little better later in the day after they have gotten up and moving. Others are not so fortunate and are wheelchair-bound, unable to stand upright without debilitating symptoms.
Aside from POTS, there will be numerous other conditions which will be managed in Dr. Abdallah’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Village.
These include autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, brain and spinal cord injuries, and paralysis. Children with communication, behavioral, and developmental disorders will benefit. Those born with birth defects and cardiac conditions and those who have had cerebrovascular accidents will be helped. Young people with epilepsy, Down syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome will benefit. Children with neurological disorders, muscular dystrophy, skeletal, and movement disorders will receive necessary therapies to help them to function more easily in the world.
Those with intellectual and learning disabilities including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder will be helped by Dr. Abdallah’s pediatric rehabilitation facility. Children with these and numerous other conditions will benefit from the existence of a nearby rehabilitation facility, one in our own backyard. Countless children living in Fauquier County as well as those in the surrounding areas and states will benefit from a full-spectrum pediatric rehabilitation facility which is devoted to helping our youngest to live their lives to the fullest.
Many families travel great distances to places like the Mayo Clinic in Florida, Minnesota, or Arizona to help their children with medical conditions. Often these families take out huge loans, upwards of $30,000, to pay expenses during prolonged stays of rehabilitation at these clinics.
Dr. Abdallah will be able to provide a more affordable journey for these families, with an opportunity to drive up and park a recreational vehicle or stay in the hotel at the Opal Gateway. Of course, these visitors will provide a boost for our economy with families frequenting the surrounding restaurants, paying for their groceries and gas, and finding entertainment opportunities for their children during their stay in Opal.
Traveling to Opal will be a much more affordable option for those in the mid-Atlantic region as compared to the cost of travel to distant rehabilitation facilities.
Dr. Abdallah will make sure that a well-qualified team of specialists from pediatric disciplines will be on board to help in the treatment plan for the rehabilitation visitors. These will include pediatric cardiologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, oncologists, orthopedists, and psychologists.
The all-inclusive team will also be comprised of medical personnel from physical, occupational, recreational, and speech therapy professions. Respiratory therapists, audiologists, nutritionists, social workers, educators, tutors, nurse practitioners, and nurses will help to round out the team.
The rehabilitation healthcare team will work with their pediatric visitors to help improve brain and body during their stay while giving them the tools to improve their lives after they leave the Fauquier County facility.
Treatment offerings at the Pediatric Rehabilitation Village will include music, play, and group therapies which will help to stimulate the young visitors emotionally, cognitively, and physically. There will also be a therapeutic horseback riding area as well as an aquatics therapy facility which will include under-water treadmills.
These sorts of therapies help to improve balance and coordination, range of motion, and strength for children with neurological and musculoskeletal conditions as well as those recovering from brain and spinal injury.
All of these therapies will be provided in a state-of-the-art environment within a resort setting. Families will have the option of staying in two bedroom cottages where they can walk and visit with other families during the rehabilitation of their children.
The facility will include the world’s longest and widest handicapped wheel way to encircle and zigzag throughout the entire property. This will provide families an opportunity to interact with each other, to help break the vicious cycle of isolation. Additionally, a conference center is planned with a meeting room specially designed to accommodate the handicapped and their caretakers.
The Pediatric Rehabilitation Village and the Opal Gateway will provide hundreds of jobs for the area. There will be employment opportunities for construction workers, building and grounds keepers, hotel personnel, restaurant employees, and all levels of medical and support personnel.
Very importantly, the Opal Gateway will provide medical services within an underserved part of Fauquier County. Opal community members will be able to receive urgent care medical services within their own neighborhood. The Opal Gateway will help us to achieve a very crucial national goal: to promote health and wellness while preventing acute and chronic illness.
On that note, a much needed health and wellness center will also be provided for the Opal community.
Dr. Abdallah, by our experience, is the most amazing physician. We have known him in the care of our three children with POTS for more than 10 years. He is extremely knowledgeable, compassionate, and takes the necessary time with his patients to explain very complicated conditions.
Anyone can look up his reviews on the Internet to see glowing comments about this doctor. He has been described as “amazing,” “compassionate,” “kind,” “extremely caring,” a “Godsend.” Dr. Abdallah is nationally and internationally renowned for his work within pediatric cardiology and dysautonomia and continues to add to the body of knowledge on autonomic dysfunction through his work.
He has published original research in cardiology and is currently working on quantitative measures in autonomic dysfunction and orthostatic intolerance. He is ranked as one of the top cardiologists in northern Virginia and in the United States. He has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Service award for commitment to the children of the Dysautonomia Youth of North America.
Those with children whose lives are touched by a medical condition in our county, surrounding counties and states are waiting patiently for the Board of Supervisors to allow this doctor to do good for our children. We need your support at the Jan. 9th Fauquier County Board of Supervisors meeting to urge the Supervisors to vote in favor of the Opal Gateway project.
Families with children with disabilities want Dr. Abdallah to bring us the Pediatric Rehabilitation Village.
MedLine Plus, Autonomic Nervous System Disorders, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/autonomicnervoussystemdisorders.html
National Prevention Council, National Prevention Strategy, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/prevention/strategy/report.pdf.