Get your stretchy pants ready, because the Well Ray festival is around the corner.
It’s the first year back after a two-year Covid hiatus, and organizers say that the free event on June 11 will go on rain or shine, with a central portion of Mount Vernon Avenue closed off for dozens of health vendors who will have live boxing, pilates and yoga demonstrations.
“It’s great for the community’s physical health, mental health, emotional health and spiritual health,” said Lola Capps of Chrysalis Chiropractic, who is co-chairing the event with Del Ray Business Association President Lauren Fisher. “It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be big, with lots of fun stuff that’s not just for adults, it’s for kids as well.”
The event includes nearly 40 vendors, and is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team.
“We’re very glad to be bringing this event back after two years,” said Fisher, who owns Del Ray Psych and Wellness. “Our goal is to connect people to things that they might not even be thinking about, like introducing them to new modalities or fitness classes, because there are many different things that can help our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing.”
The event includes:
- A rock wall
- A zen zone
- Dog fitness area
- Hula hooping
- Human and canine massages
- Physical therapy consultations
- Chiropractic assessments
- Nutritional counseling
- Blood pressure screenings
- Wellness coaching
After being overwhelmed by behavioral health-related calls for service, the Alexandria Co Response Team (ACORP) pilot program is being expanded.
The pilot program soft-launched last fall, with the ACORP team (a licensed behavioral health clinician and specially trained officer) responding to 145 (16%) of behavioral health-related calls for service between October 2021 and February 2022, according to a report that goes before City Council on Tuesday (May 10).
The collaboration between the Alexandria Police Department and the city’s Department of Community and Human Services has been deemed a success by Council, which approved two more ACORP teams in the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget.
In 14 incidents where an arrest could have been made, the ACORP team diverted 10 of them (71%) from arrests, according to the report.
However, the ACORP team has been unable to respond to approximately 85% of the 958 total behavioral-health related calls because they were off duty (63% of calls) or busy with another call (21% of calls).
The team has also been hampered by a 40-hour-per-week schedule, and after a few modifications, now work between Monday and Thursday, from noon to 10 p.m., “to better address the high number of calls consistently coming in on Mondays,” according to the report.
The overwhelming majority of behavioral health-related calls for service were in the 22304 Zip code (317 calls, or 33%) and in 22314 (253 calls, or 26%).
Of the 145 behavioral health calls for service ACORP responded to between October 2021 and February 2022:
- 52% were for unusual behavior or threats/ harm to self
- 45% of the calls were resolved on-scene (45%)
- 13% of calls that ACORP responded to resulted in involuntary transport to the hospital
These two incidents were mentioned in the report:
ACORP was dispatched to a scene involving a person engaging in suicidal behavior, with a knife in his hand, who had been cutting himself. Several units jointly responded to the call since there was a weapon involved, so there was a heavy police presence on the scene. As the ACORP team was trying to engage with the individual, they were surrounded by police officers (due to the imminent danger). The individual shared that he did not trust the police due to previous negative encounters and threatened to harm anyone coming close to him physically. He did say that he would talk to the ACORP co-responder (Megan) alone, but given that he was still a threat, the co-responding officer stayed in the room, and the other law enforcement officers were asked to slowly, one-by-one, step outside briefly. At that time, the ACORP team was successfully able to de-escalate this individual, get him to hand over the weapon, and voluntarily go with them to the hospital for further assessment and treatment. The individual got the help that he needed. This situation also increased trust between law enforcement and the co-response team and between the individual and law enforcement.
The ACORP team responded to a scene involving an individual in distress following a domestic dispute in the early Fall of 2021. The ACORP team successfully de-escalated this individual on-scene and referred them for additional services. A few months later, after not hearing from this man, ACORP responded to a call for service involving a different person who was heavily intoxicated and experiencing suicidal ideation. They arrived on scene, assessed the situation, and stepped into the hallway to discuss a strategy. While in the hallway, the man ACORP served months prior appeared and shared how grateful he was to the ACORP team for helping him get connected with services and as a result, leave a tumultuous relationship and achieve a better quality of life. This man heard the individual in distress behind the door, whom he knew. He was able to speak with his neighbor in distress and share how much he himself had been helped by the ACORP team. This first-hand experience helped the distressed man trust the ACORP team, agree to speak with them, and ultimately get connected to the services he needed.
In the budget approved last week, we funded two new Co-Response (ACORP) teams, our program to pair police officers and behavioral health clinicians.
Tomorrow evening we will receive an external evaluation of this new program, which has diverted 71% of eligible calls from arrest. pic.twitter.com/m9YybeQRzy
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) May 9, 2022
A Fairfax County woman experiencing a mental health crisis was apprehended after allegedly slamming a 19-month-old boy to the ground in the emergency room at Inova Alexandria Hospital last month.
The incident occurred at around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 20. Police said that the woman was acting erratically by knocking items off of counters, according to a search warrant. The woman then allegedly walked into a room, picked up the child by his legs and flung him on the floor.
“According to the mother of the child, the suspect picked up the child by his legs and shoved him down the hallway,” police said in a search warrant. “The child sustained an apparent injury to his forehead an left hand.”
The woman was not arrested, and her relationship with the mother and child is not known.
“On December 20, 2021 we responded to a call for service for a woman having a mental health crisis,” Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett told ALXnow. No arrest were made, but other services were provided to address this incident.”
In November — a month before this incident — the woman was charged with two counts of possessing a Schedule I or II substance. She was also charged with pickpocketing in March, and then for failing to appear in court.
Alexandri provides behavioral health treatment resources. Find out more about them here.
The wellness-related businesses in Del Ray are bottling their creative energies into a new blog.
Every Wednesday morning, the Wellness District Blog will publish two new posts to help folks navigate through the fog of stressful times. It officially launched at a glitzy outdoor party on Wednesday night in Del Ray.
The blog has 20 local wellness expert writers, and is the brainchild of Sara VanderGoot, the owner of the Mind The Mat Pilates & Yoga.
“I love to write, and I love to read, and I love wellness,” VanderGoot said. “Writing is the way to show the depth of what we all do. Not everyone gets to be right in front of us to see all of the aspects of wellness that we focus on.”
VanderGoot has a Master’s degree in creative writing, is working on a memoir and says she loves to edit other people’s work.
Dr. Lauren Fisher, co-owner of Del Ray Psych and Wellness, is one of the bloggers.
“My theme will be on letting go,” she said. “I always talk about letting go of things that are holding you back. We often hold onto a lot more than we need to, and most people aren’t aware of what they’re carrying.”
What a week in Alexandria.
Public uproar over Sunday’s flooding spilled out throughout this week, which continued to be threatened by near-daily flash flood advisories from the National Weather Service.
Our top story was on Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, who criticized City Manager Mark Jinks on the city’s stormwater infrastructure. Mayor Justin Wilson says that multiple projects are underway and take time, and that the city is now looking into whether spot improvements and any other projects can be accelerated.
The group DrainALX has also gained popularity, as it continues to catalog stormwater issues and complaints. One Del Ray resident even told us that she’s turned to therapy after repeatedly spending thousands on a continually ruined basement.
Our weekly poll also found 55% of respondents (193 people) have experienced flood damage to their homes, 14% (74 people) have experienced other sorts of property damage and 31% (159 votes) have never had any property damaged by a storm in the city.
This weekend’s forecast is partly cloudy with a 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon, followed by a 40% chance of thunderstorms Sunday night.
The week before school starts, the School Board unanimously approved Thursday night the requirement that ACPS staffers get the coronavirus vaccine.
“We do have authority to require testing and require vaccinations,” Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said at the board meeting. “However, there have been no cases where someone has contested that requirement. That has not occurred as of yet, and I’m sure it’s going to begin soon…”
In the meantime, Alexandria is also prepping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees.
- Alexandria Fire Department rescued several people Sunday, weekly forecast looks stormy
- New census shows Alexandria not majority-white
- Olympic boxer Troy Isley welcomed back to Alexandria
- Mayor Wilson talks flooding, vaccine requirements, and Arlington gondola with WAMU
- Man arrested for domestic violence, pointing gun at wife’s head in Del Ray
- Alexandria kicks off Restaurant Week
- Evolving COVID-19 decisions loom as Alexandria City Public Schools fully reopen next Tuesday
- With high transmission levels, Alexandria says third COVID vaccine dose is available for severely immunocompromised residents
- Alexandria Tutoring Consortium launches $25K fundraiser to expand virtual reading program for young kids
- Barricade situation in Landmark area ends in arrest
- As Alexandria looks to accelerate stormwater projects, Sheriff gives city manager a D-
- The Four Mile Run Bridge in Arlandria will not fully reopen until fall 2025
- Institute for Defense Analyses announces Potomac Yard move-in later this year
- Woman behind DrainALX campaign shares frustrations and hopes from locals after Sunday flood
- HUD Secretary Fudge visits Alexandria, says affordable housing is a Biden Administration priority
- New census shows Alexandria not majority-white
- Alexandria School Board to discuss mandatory vaccinations for staffers this week
- After rampant flooding over weekend, another Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Alexandria
- Poll: Have you gotten the infamous mite bite in Alexandria?
- Alexandria Fire Department struggling with staffing shortage and forced overtime
- Stuck in quandary, Del Ray flooding victim seeks therapy
Have a safe weekend!
Karin Purugganan still can’t believe it. It’s been two months since she started her own family counseling firm in Del Ray, and she’s completely booked with kids and families.
“When you look at your family, is it functioning the way you want?” Purugganan said. “If it’s not, how can we change that? If there’s friction between two family members, how are we addressing that?”
Purugganan, an Alexandria native and T.C. Williams High School graduate, opened wonderologie counseling and wellness at 2312 Mt. Vernon Avenue in May, and now has 19 clients. That’s enough to keep her busy until the fall, she says.
“This pandemic opened parents’ eyes to mental health concerns with their kids,” she said. “A couple of my clients actually did great. The social isolation was perfect for them and they needed a break from school. For the majority of my other clients it’s been really really stressful, and my caseload is full and everyone I refer to is full.”
Mental health issues have risen nationwide due to the pandemic, with adults and children reporting adverse mental health, substance use and other effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Purugganan also has five kids, and completely left her life as a respiratory therapist after her husband Alex had a heart attack a few years ago. She ended up going back to school and getting a degree in educational psychology from the University of Virginia and a graduate degree in education and human development from the George Washington University.
“It made us realize we had been ships passing in the night,” Purugganan said. “This doesn’t even feel like work now, because I enjoy it so much. I used to work nights and he would work days to make extra money. We were just really burning the candle at both ends, and it made us realize it wasn’t sustainable.”
Purugganan uses a lot of toys and games to interact with her clients.
“You will see a lot of toys in my office,” she said. “It can be really tricky for me to try to figure out how to give them all the tools they need to be as cohesive as possible and happy.”
Alexandria Police have executed an emergency custody order (ECO) for a West End man with a history of mental illness and violent behavior.
As of April 21, Cody Patrick Canniff was under evaluation at Inova Alexandria Hospital after throwing a “large tree” at an Alexandria Police officer outside his apartment building in the 300 block of Yoakum Parkway. The incident was the second mental health complaint against Canniff that day.
Canniff was arrested for brandishing a firearm against a family inside a 7-Eleven convenience store in 2012, and was also arrested for assault and battery against his then-wife in October 2016.
Four years later, on Dec. 26, 2020, Canniff was then taken into custody under an ECO after allegedly throwing machetes at people from his balcony, according to police. Several knives and a Smith and Wesson handgun were seized.
“Mr. Canniff stated that the devil had taken custody of his body,” Police said of the Dec. 26, 2020 incident.
Canniff was also taken into custody for an ECO in February for allegedly walking around his apartment complex and threatening residents with a machete.
“During the incident, he was mentally unstable and not making coherent statements and also attempted to jump out the window,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.
Also in February, Canniff’s girlfriend reported to police that he abducted and physically assaulted her multiple times.
Police conducted another search for weapons at his apartment after he was taken into custody on April 21, and said in the search warrant that it was necessary to do so “for his safety as well as the community’s.”
There have been six additional deaths from COVID-19 in Alexandria, as the death toll from the virus now stands at 83.
The victims were three men and two women, and three of the victims were in their 80s and two were in their 60s. Information on the sixth victim is not available, as the city says there is a reporting lag with the Virginia Department of Health.
“This is the most deaths related to COVID-19 in a one-week period since June, and the total is now 83 deaths,” the Alexandria Health Department noted. “The increase in fatalities coincides with Alexandria’s highest seven-day running average of (41.6) positive cases since the pandemic began.”
There are now or have been 5,790 cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria, a jump of 424 cases since this time last week.
There have also been 383 total hospitalizations since the onset of the pandemic in Alexandria. About one in 13 city residents who tested positive for the virus have been hospitalized, according to the Alexandria Health Department.
Across Virginia, there have been 4,208 deaths and there are or have been 258,870 cases of the virus. There have been 3.5 million PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and the state’s seven-day positivity rate is 10.8%.
Mental health-related emergency room visits are also on the rise, according to the city.
“The holidays are normally a time of increased stress, but with more positive cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria and the region, this year’s holiday stress may be compounded by feelings of isolation and depression,” according to AHD. “Self-care techniques, such as reaching out to loved ones, exercising and getting enough sleep, can help manage normal holiday stress. The City has compiled coping resources.”
There are or have been 3,024 women (with 40 deaths) and 2,749 men (with 42 deaths) in Alexandria with the virus. The only age groups that have not experienced a death so far are children and teenagers.
- 80+ — 36 deaths, 157 cases
- 70-79 — 21 deaths, 194 cases
- 60-69 — Seven deaths, 430 cases
- 50-59 — 14 deaths, 696 cases
- 40-49 — One death, 990 cases
- 30-39 — Two deaths, 1,336 cases
- 20-29 — One death, 1,159 cases
- 10-19 — Zero deaths, 402 cases
- 0-9 — Zero deaths, 404 cases
*One death not reported
Latino residents have the most infections with 2,416 reported cases (with 14 deaths), white residents with 1,277 cases (45 deaths), and Black residents with 1,138 cases (19 deaths). There are 207 cases with Asian or Pacific Islander residents (one death), 160 cases classified as “other” (two deaths) and four native American cases (no deaths).
There have also been 49 outbreaks in the city (an increase of six since last week), including 12 at long term care facilities, 28 in congregate settings, foive in child care settings, one at a college, one in a K-12 setting and one at a correctional facility.
There have been 540 cases associated with the outbreaks. Health care workers also make up 370 positive COVID cases, according to VDH.
There have been 70,396 COVID tests administered in the city; 5,604 antibody tests and 1,984 antigen tests. The city’s seven-day positivity rate is now at 8.4%.
- Arlington County has 6,904 cases, 158 deaths and a 8.7% seven-day positivity rate
- Fairfax County has 34,108 cases, 641 deaths and a 11.7% seven-day positivity rate
- Loudoun County has 10,832 cases, 150 deaths and a 11.7% seven-day positivity rate
Need a test? Find out where tests are administered here.
Cases By ZIP Code
The areas of the city with the leading number of cases are the 22304, 22305 and 22312 ZIP codes, which include the West End and Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods.
Some of the areas share jurisdictions between Alexandria and Arlington and Fairfax Counties:
- 22301 — 239 cases, 6,312 people tested (Estimated population 15,171)
- 22302 — 653 cases, 11,170 people tested (Estimated population 20,238)
- 22304 — 1,825 cases, 20,826 people tested (Estimated population 54,003)
- 22305 — 1,074 cases, 8,098 people tested (Estimated population 16,095)
- 22311 — 1,014 cases, 9,147 people tested (Estimated population 16,898)
- 22312 — 1,426 cases, 11,760 people tested (Estimated population 6,901)
- 22314 — 676 cases, 14,843 people tested (Estimated population 47,826)
Photo via CDC/Unsplash
People tend to fall into familiar patterns, and Alexandria Psychologist Dr. Eleni Boosalis wants her new podcast to help folks get unstuck.
“The pandemic has caused about half of people in the U.S. to have symptoms of anxiety and depression that are pretty severe,” Boosalis told ALXnow. “We also don’t have the benefit of social connections, or routine and predictability. It just seems like from moment to moment we don’t know what’s gonna happen, so everyone’s just in this perpetual state of anxiety right now.”
Boosalis, the owner of Del Ray Psych & Wellness, launched “Why Does This Keep Happening To Me? with Dr. B” on Tuesday (Nov. 10). The shows will be a mix of monologues and conversations about helpful topics.
Boosalis says that her nine therapists have a four month waitlist and she is considering hiring more help.
“We have seen an increase in couples therapy requests, and we have also seen an increase in like substance abuse, depression, panic disorders, and things like that,” she said.
Boosalis has been a psychologist for the last 15 years, and she constantly hears her clients say, “Why does this keep happening to me? I feel stuck.”
“There’s this phenomenon that’s called the repetition compulsion in one of the models of psychotherapy,” she said. “The idea is that we all compulsively repeat and recreate patterns in our life where we feel powerless. We learned that from childhood.”
Boosalis said that improving your state of mind begins with mindfulness.
“Even if it’s uncomfortable, we’re comfortable in our discomfort at times,” she said. “If we can slow down and be in the moment and notice our thoughts, and notice the patterns of our thoughts and the patterns of our choices, then that leads a person to that ‘Aha!’ moment, where you know why you did that, because there’s usually no gap between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. People act, think and feel all at once in one second. The goal is to separate those out and be more aware of yourself.”
The Alexandria Police Department has resolved an incident with an adult male experiencing a psychotic episode in the West End.
The police tweeted at 12:29 p.m. on Friday (October 23) that a person was being helped with a mental health crisis in the 500 block of North Howard Street, and approximately 10 officers were at the scene when the man’s behavior was reported to police at around noon, according to Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine.
“He’s basically in a psychotic state and he needs assistance,” Ballantine told ALXnow. “We’re working to get that to him in the safest way possible.”
At around 1 p.m., Ballantine reported that the man was “receiving services,” but could not confirm if he was taken to the hospital.
Ballantine said that the man was not suicidal, did not have a weapon, and talked to police while apparently alone in his apartment.
Ballantine said he sent out the tweet to alert the public about an increased police presence in the area, which is near apartment buildings and is blocks away from the Shoppes of Foxchase on Duke Street.
NOTIFICATION :: The Alexandria Police Department is assisting a subject in a mental health crisis in the 500 block of North Howard Street. Expect police activity in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) October 23, 2020