Katie O'Connor

Katie O'Connor

Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.

State taps VCU to lead Medicaid expansion study

By: - August 6, 2018

As Virginia prepares to expand its Medicaid program to an estimated 400,000 more people by Jan. 1, it has asked Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine to track and evaluate its progress. The General Assembly voted to expand Medicaid in a special session earlier this year. It is likely to have a monumental effect on […]

Nurse practitioners and doctors clash as Virginia sets up autonomous practice rules

By: - August 6, 2018

Virginia’s medical turf war appeared to come to an end earlier this year when nurse practitioners won the right to practice autonomously without physician supervision, despite objections from many of the state’s doctors. But the battle still rages on quietly behind the scenes as the state works to create the regulations that would govern the […]

Many Virginia nursing homes are short on staff, new federal data shows

By: - August 3, 2018

In some Virginia nursing homes, residents see a nurse for about nine minutes every day. If they don’t see a staff member often enough, they could develop pressure sores because they weren’t turned over in bed. Or they might not get the right medication or help with food and hydration. “So many of our individuals […]

Nurse practitioners worry opioid-prescription rules will interfere with treating pain

By: - August 1, 2018

Doctors began doling out opioid prescriptions in the 1990s under the guidance of pharmaceutical companies who promised the painkillers weren’t addictive. Now, a key part of tackling the drug epidemic sweeping the country is reining in the prescription pad. But in Virginia, some nurse practitioners say the state’s opioid prescription regulations are too strict and […]

State launches program to flag ‘high utilizers’ of hospital emergency departments

By: - July 31, 2018

Dr. Bruce Lo sees these cases all the time, he said. A patient comes into his emergency department at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, and they’ve already been to a different emergency room dozens of times in the past few months. In the past, emergency physicians would essentially have to treat the patient in the dark, […]

Four years of political battling over Medicaid expansion has ended. What comes next?

By: - July 23, 2018

In May, when Virginia’s General Assembly passed a budget that includes expanding the state’s Medicaid program, Lisa Coles’ daughter came running into her bedroom, ecstatic. “She said, ‘Mom, we’re going to get health insurance! It’s coming through!’” Coles, 49, recalled. “I said, ‘Yeah, girl, Jan. 1, we’re going to get it!’ I was so happy.” […]

‘What recourse do you have other than to write the check?’ Lawmakers scrutinize ‘balance-billing.’

By: - July 19, 2018

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for patients to protect themselves from surprise medical bills, and a Virginia legislative committee has the issue firmly in its crosshairs. As health care costs rise, patients are being asked to shoulder more of the burden. Some of that comes from a practice known as balance billing, when an out-of-network provider […]

Virginia’s health care-acquired infection rates mirror national averages, but is that good enough?

By: - July 18, 2018

Jimi Suwaiti doesn’t remember much of the first few months of 2017, but her mother, Sharon Blackwell, does. Blackwell watched her 48-year-old daughter shake in her hospital bed in Virginia Beach because the pain from a bacterial infection was so terrible, and hallucinate, in her feverish state, that people were coming into her room. Suwaiti […]

Virginia, ‘do not eat this cereal’

By: - July 17, 2018

Five of the 100 people recently sickened in a salmonella outbreak are Virginia residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only four of the 33 states affected by the outbreak — tied to Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, the 65-year-old sweetened puffed wheat cereal — have more cases. “Do not eat this cereal,” the […]

With hepatitis infections rising, Virginia police agencies resist needle exchanges

By: - July 17, 2018

It’s been more than a year since Virginia’s legislature opened the door for needle-exchange programs to curb rising hepatitis C infection rates and the potential increase in HIV infections that could follow in the wake of the opioid epidemic. While one program has been approved, none have actually opened anywhere in the state. The reason? […]