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.

Northam announces 2025 goal to eliminate racial disparity in pregnancy-related deaths

By: - June 5, 2019

Black women are three times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death in Virginia than white women. The racial divide in maternal mortality is a national trend that has increasingly received more attention, and on Wednesday Gov. Ralph Northam announced a new state goal of eliminating the disparity by 2025. “A critical component of improving […]

Every year, children are diverted away from foster care and placed with relatives. Nobody knows what happens next. 

By: - June 3, 2019

Last in a two-part look at kinship care in Virginia. To read the first installment, click here.  There is an inherent conundrum built into child welfare. Social workers are trying to protect kids, but  separating them from their parents is traumatizing, even if it’s for their own safety. And reams of research shows that, if […]

‘They forgot about us:’ Thousands of families are doing the same work as foster parents in Virginia, without the support

By: - June 2, 2019

First in a two-part series examining kinship care in Virginia. To read the second installment, click here.  On a June day in 2011, Ray Richardson was at work when he got a call from his daughter and was given a choice: Either his granddaughter, 7-year-old Lilia, would be staying with Richardson and his wife, or […]

More kids are being admitted to the state’s psychiatric hospital for children. But few have psychotic illnesses.

By: - May 27, 2019

Virginia’s mental health system is struggling. It offers people seeking treatment few community resources and relies heavily on crisis care that has forced state hospitals to regularly operate dangerously close to full capacity. And children seeking treatment are facing the same problems, with one big difference. Only one state psychiatric facility accepts children: the Commonwealth […]

Many Medicaid expansion patients have diabetes, cancer, addiction, new data shows

By: - May 21, 2019

More than 280,000 people have signed up for Medicaid now that Virginia has expanded the program, and the state is starting to get a clearer picture of what sort of illnesses the new enrollees are dealing with. According to new data that Dr. Jennifer Lee, director of the state’s Medicaid program, presented to the Senate […]

Thousands received addiction treatment once Medicaid paid for it. Could that happen for mental health?

By: - May 20, 2019

When James Murdoch Sr., was living in Maryland, his family didn’t have trouble accessing care for their young son, who was diagnosed with autism when he was two. “Say you open one door, six more open after that,” Murdoch, now a Tappahannock resident, said of Maryland. “Whereas, in Virginia, it was the total opposite. Nobody […]

Virginia Mercury

First day of abortion trial delves into safety of procedures

By: - May 20, 2019

During the first day of a trial on a lawsuit challenging several Virginia abortion regulations, witnesses zeroed in on the safety of the medical procedure and the proficiency of non-physician clinicians. The case targets four of the state’s abortion regulations, several of which have been on the books for more than four decades. They include […]

More than 270,000 people enrolled in Medicaid through expansion so far

By: - May 15, 2019

Virginia has seen 272,527 adults enroll in Medicaid under the state’s expansion of the program, surpassing even its own expectations. The state estimated that fewer than 200,000 adults would be enrolled in coverage from January to June of this year, according to a report by Freddy Mejia of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. Virginia’s […]

Virginia Mercury

Seeking more information, federal judge backtracks on decision allowing abortions without a physician

By: - May 14, 2019

Just a little over a week after deciding that non-physicians such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants should be able to provide first-trimester abortions, a federal judge on Tuesday vacated his order, saying he instead wants to hear more evidence during an upcoming trial. The case, filed by several abortion clinics against numerous state officials […]

Virginia explained: As states tighten restrictions on abortion, federal court pushes Virginia to loosen regulations

By: - May 14, 2019

Update: After this story was published, the federal judge vacated his decision on Virginia’s physician-only law, saying he wants to hear more evidence during trial. Read more here.  News of legislatures in Georgia, Alabama and Ohio either considering or passing laws restricting access to abortions have dominated national headlines in recent weeks. Yet in Virginia, […]

Virginia Planned Parenthood launches new mobile app to expand birth control access

By: - May 8, 2019

Since October, about 1,000 Virginia patients have accessed either birth control or urinary-tract infection treatment from their smart phones, thanks to the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood’s new app. Patients can download the app — which was developed by the national Planned Parenthood organization — and fill out a health questionnaire just as they would […]

State aims to reduce transportation trauma for involuntary mental health detentions

By: - May 7, 2019

When someone in Virginia has a mental health crisis and a magistrate issues a temporary detention order to involuntarily hold them for treatment, law enforcement must take them to an available hospital bed. So the patient is put in the back of a police vehicle, often handcuffed even though the vast majority have not committed […]