Preventing Bird Window StrikesBy Doug Pifer
It can happen anytime, any season. You hear a loud thump against a window of your house, look outside and see nothing. Later you may notice a bird on the ground just outside the window. It isn’t dead, just sitting quietly. What should you do?
Bird enthusiasts used to recommend that you gently pick the bird up and place it in a safe, dark spot, like an empty shoe box with a few holes punched in the lid and leave it alone in the dark to rest quietly overnight. Then next morning take the box outside, remove the lid — and the bird flies out good as new.
This is no longer the best thing to do, according to a recent “patient of the week” email from the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Millwood. Their early December edition features a pair of American goldfinches, now in gray winter plumage. Both birds had struck the same window at the same time. A kind individual brought them to the Wildlife Center where they were treated for minor head trauma and injuries and are expected to recover and to be returned to the wild. The male of the goldfinch
pair had been bleeding from his left ear.
According to the email, research has now shown that simply letting the bird rest for a few hours before release is inadequate. Damage to the bird may not show up until more than a day after the window strike, long after the bird can fly off.
Well-meaning bird lovers naturally position bird feeders next to a window where they can be viewed easily. But if a flock of birds is feeding there and a hawk or other predator suddenly appears, the birds’ survival responses take over and they scatter in all directions. Some of them are likely to fly smack into the windowpane and injure themselves.
Wildlife rehabilitators now say if you see a bird hit a window, contain the bird right away. Do not release it but take it to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation facility as soon as possible. There, professional rehabilitators can examine the bird and monitor it for a few days. Its injuries can be treated and further complications such as damaged air sacs or breathing difficulty can be resolved. Additionally,
the bird receives the proper diet it needs to recover quickly so it can be released as soon as possible.
A flying bird usually sees window glass as sky or as open space it can fly through, rather than a hard surface. You can break up the reflections on your windows with tape, paint, or decals spaced no more than 2” apart. Putting a single decal of a flying hawk or perched owl on your window isn’t enough.
A quick search of the world wide web will reveal many types of decals, tape or other material that you can easily apply to your windows without damaging the glass. Patterns or stripes of translucent dots or squares allow you to see out the window, while birds outside now recognize the glass as a barrier to avoid.
Like all wild creatures, birds need every advantage to survive. While lucky and healthy individuals can live for many years, their survival from minute to minute is balanced on a razor’s edge. One minor accident, such as a window strike, could place them in danger of losing their lives.
Window strikes can be deadly, and prevention is better than treatment!
Thanking Those Who Make Clarke Possible
This is the 125th edition of Clarke Monthly. Ten years! Thanks to all the terrific local writers and photographers for sharing their stories and letters. Stories about people we know or should, nonprofits who strive to help those in need, business owners who risk everything to offer us something beautiful, news about about how local governments work. Photographs of this special place; letters that inspire dialogue.
Thanks, too, to our advertisers. They make it possible to deliver Clarke to your mailbox each month for free! They are local people who believe Clarke County deserves a communityinspired, community-focused paper.
Many of you have asked us to modify our publication date to correspond with the monthly calendar. So beginning with the
February edition, we will publish at the beginning of each month. For nonprofit and church calendar listings, please send your events and activities by the 15th of each month to Rebecca Maynard at Rebecca@clarkeva.com.
For advertising, this means the third week of the month to be placed in the coming edition. Contact Jennifer Welliver at Jennifer@ clarkeva.com with questions.
Pitch your story ideas to either one of us — it’s amazing how many ideas we get in checkout lines!
Onward we go. We’ve made it together for 10 years. Let’s keep local stories alive for another decade and beyond. Thank you!-David Lillard and Jennifer Welliver
Get A Lawyer ASAP!
I have to question Ms. Waugh’s advice in the December issue of Clarke monthly. An older gentleman has a younger female friend. He also has a terminal disease. His wishes are that his friend remain in his house as long as she desires but his grandson to inherit the property. The proposed 5-step plan could make his desires for his property very difficult to achieve. It would probably turn into a very drawn out process involving a lot of time and expense, quite possibly lasting until the gentleman passes. My uncle was in a
similar situation he died without a will and his son put his friend out immediately even though she had invested many thousands of dollars into the house and they had been together for many years. In this case I submit the older gentleman should have an attorney get his wishes on paper ASAP and let the “greedies” come forward after his passing or possibly make his will known to his relatives.
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Berryville marks its 225th anniversary on January 15 — the date the town was officially chartered in 1798 — and the celebration continues throughout the year with a number of events, including an exhibit of historical items and history lectures in March and an art show in April at the Barns of Rose Hill.
Clarke County artists are encouraged to submit work for the “Berryville Celebrates 225” Juried Art Show. The exhibit runs April 1 through 30; however, the application deadline is 5pm Thursday, March 1.
The “Berryville Celebrates 225” show is open to artists who live in Clarke County. Each artist may submit up to
three entries. Art may be any subject, though interpretations of Berryville and Clarke County are encouraged. Jewelry, installation art, audio, and video enhancements are not accepted.
“We have such a rich and diverse artistic community in Clarke County,” said Berryville 225th Anniversary Committee member Christy Dunkle. “We are excited to showcase all this talent at our beautiful cultural and performing arts center.”
Committee chair John Hudson concurred. “What better way to showcase the specialness of Berryville than with artistic expressions.”
“The Barns of Rose Hill is proud to host the ‘Berryville Celebrates 225’ Juried Art Show,” said its marketing &
outreach coordinator Martha Reynolds. “This is a wonderful opportunity for Clarke County artists of all ages to show their work and engage viewers with their community.”
Reynolds, continued, “Berryville’s milestone anniversary is important to the Barns. We cherish all past, present, and future creators who maintain Clarke County’s reputation as a haven for the arts.”
The “Berryville Celebrates 225” art show opens with a free reception from 3 to 6pm on Saturday, April 1. But first, artists must submit their applications by 5pm March 1. There is a $10 entry fee, and digital or printed images are required for the jury process.
Two-dimensional work must be suitably prepared for
hanging and may not exceed 4-by-4 feet in size, including frame. Three-dimensional work may be no larger than 84-by-30-by-40 inches, and will be placed on pedestals for the exhibit.
There is a 70/30 commission on sales at the Barns of Rose Hill. “Not-for-sale pieces” are also accepted for the “Berryville Celebrates 225” show.
Find an art show application and more details at https://barnsofrosehill.org/ exhibits-2/225-juried-artshow. Acceptance notices will be sent to all artists by March 10. Artwork must be delivered to the Barns of Rose Hill between noon and 3pm Saturday, March 25, or by appointment.
Prior to the art show, the Barns presents a month-long “Berryville Celebrates” Historical Exhibit. It opens Saturday, March 4, with a reception from 3 to 4pm, and remains on display throughout March.
Explore Berryville’s colorful history through a trea-
sure trove of old images and memorabilia. Items on display include objects on loan from
tures are free, and topics are “How Our Town Developed: Berryville History Explored through Maps, Zoning & Berryville Area Plan,” “Horses in Clarke County & Our Equestrian Legacy,” “Remembering Those Who Served: Our Local Veterans & Heroes,” and “Our Schools: The History & Development of Clarke County Public Schools.”
private collections. Anyone who has objects representing Berryville’s past that could be part of the exhibit should contact the Barns of Rose Hill.
In addition to the “Berryville Celebrates” Historical Exhibit, the Barns and the Clarke County Historical Association are collaborating to present “Berryville Celebrates” History Lectures at 1 p.m. on Saturdays, March 4, 11, 18, and 25. Lec-
The Barns, which also serves as Clarke County’s tourist center, is open noon to 3pm Tuesday through Saturday and for evening and weekend events. Contact the Barns of Rose Hill at (540) 9552004 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to barnsofrosehill.org.
If you would like to participate in “Berryville Celebrates” programs, share old photos and memorabilia for display, or volunteer, contact Berryville1798@gmail.com or message “Berryville Celebrates” on Facebook.
Beagling: Green Coats, No Foxes Or HorsesBy Claire Stuart Photos by Claire Stuart & Stephen Willingham
A gaggle of squirming beagle puppies with wiggling tails and pleading eyes is at the fence to greet Russell Wagner, Master of Hounds of Clarke County’s Nantucket-Treweryn Beagles (NT Beagles).
While Virginia Hunt Country is well known for the colorful pageantry of fox hunts and horse races, less attention falls on beagling, a spectacle with green coats instead of red. Un-
like mounted fox hunting, beagling allows spectators to follow the hunt on foot over the fields and get an opportunity to see some of Clarke’s most beautiful working farms close up. Hunts are held on Sundays from November until April.
Hunting with beagles can be traced back to Roman times when people hunted for food with small dogs. A hunting beagle is correctly called a “hound,”
not a “dog.” Male hounds are properly called ”dogs” and females are called “bitches.” Mounted hunting with a pack of foxhounds emerged as a sport with the upper classes in England in the 1700s, while ordinary people took up small game hunting with beagles. Beagling came to the U.S. with European farmers for ridding their farms of rabbits, and it evolved into today’s sport.
NT Beagles originated as two private packs in the 1920s: David Sharp’s Treweryn Beagles in Pennsylvania and Rebecca Tripi’s Nantucket (Massachusetts) Beagles. The masters married, eventually merged packs, and moved to Middleburg. The pack moved to Clarke in 1982, becoming a subscription pack.
The hunt’s object is not to kill rabbits, but to enjoy the chase. Beagles hunt by scent, and the pack bursts into song when a rabbit is scented or flushed out. The chase continues until the rabbit ducks into a hole or other safe shelter (“goes to ground”) or the hounds lose
the scent, and the huntsman gathers the pack to find another rabbit. Various numbers of hounds participate, usually 15
to 21, depending on where the hunt is held.
There is a definite hierarchy in a pack of hounds, and
Wagner reports that a hound named Voodoo is boss. “He has probably been Number One for six or seven years. When Voodoo speaks, other hounds answer!”
Wagner explains that only about one in 100 rabbits is caught — due to a serious mis-
take on the rabbit’s part! The odds would seem to be in favor of the hounds simply due to numbers, but rabbits have some distinct advantages. Living under constant threat from hawks, foxes, coyotes and stray pets, rabbits know reliable escape routes, and they run in
wide circles around their home territory. They are also able to make a complete 90-degree turn in seconds, before the scattered pack of hounds can regroup and follow.
Some of the pack are outfitted with tracking collars in case they wander off and get lost. Wagner has a monitor that shows the hound’s location as a dot on a map, and he can track several hounds at a time.
NT Beagles is operated by three joint masters: Russell Wagner; his wife, Marianne Casey; and Peter Cook, owner of the property where the kennel is located. The masters handle all operations of the hunt including finances, activity schedules, mailings, and hound care. The only paid employee is the kennelman who helps feed the hounds. The hunt is not taken lightly by the masters. Casey explains that at the conclusion of every hunt, the masters review everything. “We look at the performance of every hound, every rabbit.”
Wagner is Huntsman, in charge of breeding and training the hounds to hunt with the public. He leads the hunts. Casey is Field Master, “herding” the walking followers (the field), keeping them together at a safe distance from the hounds but close enough to see the action.
Bill Getchell and Don Richards are volunteer Whippersin. Safety of the hounds during a hunt is their responsibility: keeping the hounds away from roads and other hazards, keeping them focused, and preventing them from going after deer, foxes, stray pets and any other creatures they might encounter.
There are 150 to 200 hunts a year, held on farms across Clarke County and some large farms in Warren County. Outside of the hunts that spectators attend, the masters take the hounds out frequently to keep them in practice.
Every pack has an approved
territory in which they hunt. About 26 farms, ranging from 50 to 2,000 acres, participate, and NT Beagles shares Clarke with the Blue Ridge Hunt. Terrain varies from farm to farm — some is easy walking and some is not so! The Huntsman usually walks three to five miles with the hounds,
the Whippers-in about three miles, and the following walkers about two miles — but it could be four or five miles, depending on location.
Currently, the pack numbers 33 adult hounds and five puppies. Male and female hounds hunt together as long as females are not
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likely to come into heat and distract the dogs. Whippersin watch carefully for any disruptive behavior.
The kennel contains nine hound runs, and each can hold three to five hounds. There is a dispensary for necessary medicines and vaccines, and Wagner gives all shots except rabies, which requires a vet. There is also a convalescing room for any hounds that suffer minor injuries, and Wagner cares for those that don’t require attention of a vet.
Hounds are bred at the kennel, sometimes with hounds drafted from other packs. Wagner explains that they breed to keep certain qualities, similar but not exactly like their parents. “Most important,” says Wagner, “Do they hunt? I keep a stud book. Voodoo’s sire line goes back to 1860!”
At five weeks, the first thing pups learn are their names. Pups from the same litter are all given names starting with the same letter, such as Voodoo, Vodka and Vicki. Wagner knows every pup by name. He
can also recognize each pup by its markings, and notes that they all have their own distinctive personalities. Asked whether the pups bond with humans or with the pack, he replied, ”Every hound makes a bond with me as a pet. They all come to me first.”
Pups get their first vaccines at eight weeks. At about 14 weeks, they learn to bark at and chase one of the kennel’s domestic rabbits. They are not allowed to catch the rabbit. Wagner commented that the rabbits get a warm, dry hutch and food for putting up with being chased by pups a few times!
“I wish they would never catch a rabbit!” remarked Getchell.
In May, June and July, Wagner takes pups for daily walks of one to three miles a day as a pack. “We might chase a rabbit, “ he explained, “and go to a stream for a drink. The walk often ends up as a hunt if they chase a fox, a deer, a cat.”
Pups are not taught the commands that pet dogs are taught, like sit, stay and heel.
They learn words like get back, down, pack up (come in) and, of course, NO! They are moved into the pack one at a time, and at eight months they can go into the hunt. By one and a half years they learn not to chase deer, foxes, other animals. The Whipper-In scares them when they chase deer.
They never stop learning. They learn to come when called and to follow the Huntsman. They are trained to the hunting horn. There are notes that mean ‘come to me,’ ‘hunt with me’, and ‘rabbit coming’. Wagner says that the horns are mostly just part of the pageantry because he can direct the hounds with hand signals — although that wouldn’t be as interesting to the spectators.
Most spectators are subscribers. Many have been beagling for years or decades, and know their favorite hounds on sight. Rebecca Bronson says she has been beagling since the 1990s. “I’ve learned more about nature from beagling than from my biology classes,”
she maintained. “It’s a great way to get out in nature.”
Michael Trainor recalls growing up around dogs and chasing rabbits, because his grandfather raised hunting beagles. “Beagling is like a glorious return to my childhood.”
“I retired from fox hunting because I got tired of falling off horses,” laughed Diane Ingoe. She loves the fun, exercise, and camaraderie that beagling offers. She proudly shows off a handcrafted walking stick with carved hounds and rabbits that was made for her by an artist friend.
Non-subscribers need an invitation from a subscriber or permission from a Master to attend a hunt, and advance notice is required.
Spectators should wear proper clothing and footwear to stay dry and warm: boots, jeans, jackets, hats. Walking sticks are very useful. Wagner stressed that the primary interest is the hunt, not socializing, although of course there will be a certain amount.
As a subscription pack, NT Beagles is completely sup-
ported by private subscribers and occasional fundraisers. You can donate to support a hound (food and meds) for a week, month, or a year; if your hound wins an award, you are
also awarded a small prize. Two, three, and four years old is the prime age for a hound to hunt. The average working hound is about four years old. At six, seven and eight years old, hounds are slowing down, and by nine or ten they are retired and found homes as pets. Wagner reported that he will be keeping Voodoo when that exceptional hound retires.
Retired beagles make excellent pets. Since they spent their lives in the kennel, they are not housebroken, but it only takes about a week to housebreak. They also have to get accustomed to regular baths because kennel hounds are only bathed before shows. Adopters get all of their new pet’s medical records.
For further information, visit https://www.ntbeagles. org/home. Phone: (540) 4544045 or (540)-955-2889. Leave a message and your call will be returned when the hounds are in from the field.
Around Clarke County
15Herbal Support for Cognition and Mental Health
Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Learn ways to support our moods, cognition and nervous system naturally without addiction and side effects. In person classes include teas to enjoy. 2–4pm. $40. Email to register. email@example.com.
21Furnace Mountain Band Birthday Bash
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Named “the area’s premier acoustic band” by The Washingtonian, the Barns of Rose Hill happily welcomes Furnace Mountain Band back to showcase their transcendent, innovative, and rootsy sound. $25 in advance, $30 at door. 7–9pm. www.barnsofrosehill.org.
21Hot Chocolate Hike Blandy Experimental
Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Enjoy a mug of hot chocolate or tea and meander through Blandy’s conifer collection with a naturalist. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Registration required. FOSA members $10, nonmembers $15. 2–3pm. www.blandy.virginia.edu.
Poet Laureate Reading
Christ Church. 809 Bishop Meade Rd. Millwood. Wendell Hawken, Millwood’s first Poet Laureate, will read from her works. The reading will also be live streamed on the church’s Facebook page. 3pm. firstname.lastname@example.org.
22Concert to Benefit Ukrainian Refugees
The Old School House, Waterford, Va., 7pm. Internationally renowned concert pianist
Neal Larrabee in a recital to benefit Ukrainian war refugees who have fled to Poland in recent months. Waterford Old School, 40222 Fairfax Street. Inquiries: oldschool@ waterfordfoundation.org, 540-882-3018.
Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Katie Allen, director of landscape conservation at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, will speak about climate change. Registration required. FOSA members $10, nonmembers $15. 2–3pm. www.blandy.virginia.edu.
28FISH Mobile Community Table
Shiloh Baptist Church. 1983 Millwood Rd. Dairy products, personal care items and snack packs, and food to take home “from our community table to your family table.” Find out
what benefits may be available to you from the Department of Social Services. Held monthly. Free. 9–11am. 540-955-1823. www.fishofclarkecounty.org.
28Corey Harris Band
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Harris aims to create an original vision of the blues by incorporating influences from different genres, some of which include reggae, soul, rock and West African music. $20 in advance, $25 at door. 7–9pm. www.barnsofrosehill.org.
February 3 Winter Art Show Reception
Long Branch Historic House. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. Featuring Deborah Horton/Carlin Green/ Raymond Utz. 6–8pm. Free. www.visitlongbranch.org.
4 Alash Ensemble: Tuvan Throat Singing
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Alash are masters of Tuvan throat singing, a technique for singing multiple pitches at once. The technique includes a variety of styles, each associated with a different sound in nature, with the more complex styles creating rhythms or quickly changing harmonics to imitate the sounds of bubbling water or trotting horses. $20 in advance, $25 at door. 7–9pm. www.barnsofrosehill.org.
Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Learn tips and tricks to keep your houseplants happy and healthy Ages 13 and older. Registration required. FOSA members $20. 10–11:30am. www.blandy.virginia.edu.
17Jules and the Agreeables Concert
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Juliana MacDowell is a sensational and sensitive singer-songwriter, known for drawing listeners in with her “heart-on-yoursleeve” approach to songwriting and performance, melding velvety vocals and moving originals to reach audiences in memorable ways. $20 in advance, $25 at door. 7–9pm. www.barnsofrosehill.org.
18Hot Chocolate Hike
Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Enjoy a mug of hot chocolate or tea and spy on our feathered friends with a naturalist. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Registration required. FOSA members $10, nonmembers $15. 2–3pm. www.blandy.virginia.edu.
18Astronomy for Everyone
Sky Meadows State Park. 11012 Edmonds Lane. Delaplane. Join NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Ambassadors for a presentation on the latest news in astronomy. Finish the evening by relaxing and enjoying the night’s beauty with the members of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club for a tour of the night sky. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets. Feel free to bring your telescope or binoculars for your own exploration. 5–8pm. Free; parking fees apply. 540-592-3556.
19Celebrating Chocolate, Aphrodisiacs and Red Wine
Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Registered herbalist Geo Giordano shares the health benefits of chocolate and red wine. Bring samples of your favorites to share with the class. 2–4pm. $40. Email to register. email@example.com.
21Documentary Film: “Harry and Snowman”
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. In his touching documentary, Director Ron Davis tells the true story of Harry deLeyer and his horse, Snowman. deLeyer, a Dutch immigrant, journeyed to the United States after World War II and developed a transformative relationship with a plow horse he rescued off a slaughter truck, bound for the glue factory. Free; must register ahead. 1–3pm. www.barnsofrosehill.org.
World of Wood Exhibit
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Jan. 14–Feb. 25. www.barnsofrosehill.org.
Winter Art Show
Long Branch Historic House. 830 Long Branch Lane. Boyce. Featuring Deborah Horton/ Carlin Green/Raymond Utz. Monday–Friday 10am–4pm, Saturday and Sunday 12–4pm. www.visitlongbranch.org.
Yoga With Amy
Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N Buckmarsh St. Berryville.
Vinyasa Flow yoga emphasizes the sequential movement between postures, coordinated with and guided by deliberate breath. $20. Tuesdays, 5:15–6:15pm. Register ahead. amyhopegentry.com/yoga.
Restorative Yoga with Ximena
Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Invigorating sequences of asanas, united by rhythmic breathing. $25 for drop-ins, $80 for four classes a month, $100 for eight classes a month. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9–10am. Email to register. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mindful Meditations and Musings
Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Twice weekly meditation classes for beginners with a focus on mindfulness. Typical class will consist of 30-45 minute lightly guided meditation followed by a brief discussion. Wear comfort-
able clothing and bring whatever you need to sit comfortably. Yoga mats and chairs available to borrow. $25 for individual class, $100 for five classes. 10:30–11:30am Fridays and 6–7pm Mondays. Email to register. email@example.com.
First Person Singular
Remembering Playing for TimeBy Diana Kincannon
“Playing for Time” is a 1980 CBS television film, written by Arthur Miller and based on acclaimed musician Fania Fénelon’s autobiography The Musicians of Auschwitz. The work was based on Fénelon’s experience as a female prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she and a group of classical musicians were spared in return for performing music for their captors. The film was later adapted as a play by Miller.
It premiered as a stage work at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, directed by Joy Zinoman and performed in the fall of 1985. I played the role of Elzvieta, a non-Jew who was sent to Auschwitz for aiding Jews .
I closed my eyes in the darkness as I did each night, waiting with the others in the close, bare space for the music to begin. It would start, the eerie electronic sounds, distant, dissonant, drawn out, punctuated with sharp
noises, muffled cries, violent metallic shrieks.
I would let the images come, will them to come, will myself back through the years. I opened myself to the music, let it carry me into madness.
I imagine the earth spin-
ning under me. I’m lifted high into cold, black air. I speed across seething ocean, past hilled and forested foreign lands. I imagine my soldier father, young and strong, lounging on unknown ground, his uniform tousled, his
rifle close beside him — a snapshot of him somewhere in Europe, a gray forest showing in the distance. I imagine other scenes, a flashing collage of them, creating a reality for the precise moment when I am catapulted into the box car inside the barren, barricaded, wired walls of Auschwitz, the camp where the trains bring unsuspecting thousands, day after day, month after month.
The music climaxes in a screeching, screaming military violence. I step
once again onto the small stage as Elzvieta, a woman in a circumstance beyond imagining, beyond re-creation. I am playing in an orchestra, playing for families as they’re separated from each other, husbands from wives, children from parents, playing as they’re moved forward to the showers.
Arthur Miller’s Playing for Time came to the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC as a screenplay, not fully adapted for live theatre. The director — strong, abusive, temperamental,
defensive—all these, and brilliant, too, took the episodic, fragmented work and kneaded us into the captive, shaven-headed women who made up the perverse orchestra of Auschwitz. Almost every day for six weeks we entered the purging environment of rehearsal, in our spare time practicing the difficult, unfamiliar Von Suppe orchestral excerpts that the actual orchestra was forced to play for the sadistic Nazi high command of the camp. Illness swept through
the cast. Still we came. Vanities disappeared and we grew quiet, inwardlooking. Each night before the performance, we read stories of survivors to each other, words we wanted to turn away from, yet embraced to internalize, to use. For me, the death of a friend became an experience to translate; each night I wept over the body of our murdered conductor. We knew early on the dramatic challenges, the musical challenges, the points the critics would
attack. We resented the director, yet longed to please her. We resisted the dark, demented world of this drama, yet threw ourselves into it like martyrs into the fire. Most nights when we left the theatre, we sought the outdoor restaurant nearby. We ate and laughed in the dim light, the night breeze blowing about us. The release was so sweet, the laughter so eager, the food so satisfying. We knew we would re-enter that other world again, and all too soon.
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Can Anything Be Done About A Dispute In The Medical Setting?By Brenda Waugh
Consumers and Patients: Have you ever received a medical bill you disagreed with? Had a dispute with a hospital or care facility about the services they provided to you or your loved one? Believed that an error had occurred during your medical treatment? Did you feel like there was nothing you could do?
Health care workers: Have you ever had a dispute with your employer about your hours, wages, benefits, a promotion, or conditions of your employment? Have you had disagreements with your partners or coworkers? Did you try to get along as best you could until you could find another job?
Medical care providers : Have you ever had a conflict with a patient about their care? An unpaid bill? Has
your billing office made errors? Have you experienced a conflict with colleagues or a medical facility?
The law provides remedies for most of these situations. For example, in a situation with a billing dispute, the medical provider may be able to report the debt to a credit-reporting agency or may be able to file a lawsuit to collect the debt. Likewise, a consumer may be able to dispute the debt, request verification from the provider, or file a lawsuit.
However, determining your legal right in these situations takes time, effort, and financial resources to resolve the problem. Hiring an attorney, filing a lawsuit, and then engaging in a few years of litigation is rarely the best way to resolve some
disputes in health care. Whether the conflict exists between a patient and physician, a nurse and administrator, or a doctor’s group and a medical facility, ADR,
or alternative dispute resolution, may provide a better resolution. ADR is gaining popularity in resolving medical related disputes and includes a variety of in-
formal processes to resolve disputes and may include mediation, arbitration, or an ombuds program.
ADR of medical-related disputes can occur in a variety of formats. In most any lawsuit, including a medical malpractice case or contract dispute, the matter will be mediated. The parties usually jointly select and hire a mediator to address the issues at some point in the litigation. This may occur before a suit is filed and will nearly always occur before the case proceeds to trial.
In other circumstances, federal and state government-sponsored programs provide for mediators or arbitrators. For example, under the federal law that went into effect last year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will provide a free “neutral” to review bills exceed-
ing the estimate for uninsured patients. In addition, the Commonwealth of Virginia provides an alternative dispute resolution process when a provider has a dispute with an insurance carrier about coverage; an arbitrator is appointed by the Virginia SEC to resolve the dispute. Similarly, CMS provides a mediator for disputes between providers and Medicare.
Virginia funds a program providing for a neutral, or an ombudsperson, to help resolve disputes arising in long term care. This neutral can evaluate complaints filed on behalf of older adults and address disputes without litigation. Another program in Virginia operated by the Virginia SCC is the Office of the Managed Care Ombudsman. The Office pro-
between the disputants. What can consumers, medical care providers and facilities do to reduce the potential risks and costs of litigation mediation?
For consumers or patients:
If you disagree with your medical providers about their care recommendations, course of treatment, or a bill, bring it to their attention.
• Inquire as to whether or not they employ an ombudsperson or neutral.
• Find out if they are willing to discuss the issues in a facilitated discussion.
• Talk with an attorney to see if there is a course that will protect your interests and so forth.
vides a neutral for Virginia consumers whose health insurance is provided by a Managed Care Health Insurance Plan (MCHIP), such as a Health Maintenance Organization or a Preferred Provider Organization and have a dispute about a coverage decision.
Some medical facilities and medical providers engage ADR professionals to resolve conflicts within a facility. The provider may employ an ombudsperson, or they may refer the case to an in-house mediator or contract with an independent mediator. For example, INOVA has a process for disputes between physicians where the dispute is referred to a board that may employ a mediator. Other facilities employ independent mediators who are selected by agreement
ronment to provide quality medical services.
When addressing healthcare, it is possible to create the potential for win-win resolutions to disputes, providing the optimal opportunities for wellness. Being mindful of both legal rights and alterative dispute resolution processes increases
the chance for everyone engaged with the medical system to be satisfied with the process, and outcomes.
Waugh is a lawyer/ mediator with Waugh Law & Mediation, serving clients in the Blue Ridge region of Virginia and Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
For medical facilities and providers:
1. Consider establishing a process for consumers to have a neutral to discuss their complaints. The neutral can be retained with an informal arrangement on a case-by-case basis or may include an ombudsperson on staff. Agreements for services may include provisions requiring or encouraging mediation when a dispute arises.
2. Even without a formal process, provide consumers with information on bringing their complaints informally with an opportunity to be heard.
3. Modify any process to apply to all disputes in the facility, including conflicts with employees and with physicians. Addressing dispute resolution upfront can be forward-focused and create the optimal envi-