HEALTH

A new grant aims to decrease social isolation among Virginia nursing home residents

BY: - August 3, 2021

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation and loneliness were a daily reality for many nursing home residents. “It’s hard for us to imagine what it’s like to wake up every morning and think, ‘I don’t belong here,’” said Kristine Theurer, a longtime expert in senior care. As a music therapist (and later a recreation […]

Federal funding could provide immediate relief to Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals

BY: - July 29, 2021

With Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals in the midst of a self-described crisis, Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing a $485 million investment in behavioral health services. The proposed allotment was announced Wednesday ahead of next week’s special General Assembly session, where lawmakers will decide how to distribute $4.3 billion in federal relief funding. Mental health funding […]

Virginia will reopen one of five state-run mental hospitals to new admissions

BY: - July 28, 2021

Catawba Hospital, a state-run psychiatric facility near Roanoke, will begin accepting a limited number of new patients on Thursday, according to a release from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.  The announcement comes nearly 20 days after Commissioner Alison Land halted admissions to five of the state’s nine mental hospitals, including Catawba […]

Some Virginia nursing homes join the call for employee vaccine mandates

BY: - July 27, 2021

Amid growing concerns over the more-infectious Delta variant, some of Virginia’s long-term care facilities are joining the push for employee vaccine mandates. In a statement on Tuesday, LeadingAge Virginia, an association representing nonprofit aging services across the commonwealth, called on facilities to require immunization for all staff working in the long-term care industry. While the […]

Virginia’s COVID-19 decline is officially over

BY: - July 21, 2021

After six months of sharp decline, COVID-19 cases in Virginia are again on the rise, spurred by the spread of more infectious variants and a plateau in new vaccinations. With just over 53 percent of the population fully vaccinated (and more than 64 percent of adults), the case burden is still far below states like […]

Canadian and western wildfires bring hazardous smoke to Virginia

BY: - July 21, 2021

Massive wildfires near the Ontario-Minnesota border as well as blazes farther west in Canada and the United States are bringing smoke throughout Virginia, causing state officials to issue a health alert Wednesday morning due to high levels of particulate matter.  “It’s basically all over the state at this point,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality […]

New coalition calls for statewide board to control prescription drug costs

BY: - July 20, 2021

A new coalition is calling on Virginia legislators to create an oversight board aimed at lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals across the commonwealth. “We have formed because the problem is clear and it is grave,” said Addison Hunter, a spokesperson for Freedom Virginia, one of several advocacy groups — including Doctors for America and Virginia […]

Amid a crisis at state mental hospitals, calls for private providers to step up

BY: - July 20, 2021

As Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals struggle to navigate a long-brewing crisis in staffing and admissions, lawmakers and advocates are asking private hospitals to relieve more of the burden. For years, officials have warned that Virginia’s beleaguered psychiatric facilities were on the verge of collapse. But the system reached a tipping point earlier this month when […]

COMMENTARY

Mentally ill patients, and their families, deserve better from Virginia government

BY: - July 19, 2021

By Margaret Rood The Mercury’s  story on mental health hospitalizations in Virginia evokes some worrisome questions concerning the direction our legislature intends to pursue in addressing the commonwealth’s mental health crisis. Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, said “Right now, I think the sense is we don’t want to build more beds if that’s not what we […]

First surprise medical bills head to arbitration under Virginia’s new balance-billing ban

BY: - July 16, 2021

Doctors and hospitals are up 2-1 over insurance companies as the first three disputes resolved under the state’s ban on balance billing emerge from arbitration, according to a report released this month by state regulators. The new approach, which went into effect Jan. 1, removes patients from fights between providers and insurers over unexpected medical […]

More than half of Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals are closing to new admissions

BY: - July 9, 2021

More than half of Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals are immediately closing to new admissions, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services announced Friday. The abrupt order from DBHDS Commissioner Alison Land comes amid a workforce crisis that’s resulted in a “dangerous environment where staff and patients are at increasing risk for physical harm,” she […]

COMMENTARY

More smiles. More health. More life.

BY: - July 8, 2021

Kyle Willis is the poster man for the importance of maintaining healthy teeth. Not “poster child.” The 24-year-old’s story is one sadly shared by too many low-income adults across the country, though not always with the tragic outcome Willis endured. It’s astounding what he experienced could happen in the United States.  That’s why a new […]