HEALTH

Nine rare cancers tied to burn pit exposure added to VA benefits list

BY: - April 25, 2022

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is adding nine rare respiratory cancers linked to burn pit exposure to the list of illnesses eligible for disability and health benefits. President Joe Biden, who has said his son Beau Biden’s exposure to toxic fumes from the pits could have led to his death, announced the policy change […]

Virginia’s rising syphilis cases are another bellwether of a strained public health system

BY: - April 25, 2022

For more than two years, COVID-19 has largely monopolized the time and resources of local health departments across Virginia. But as the virus moves into an uneasy plateau, health officials are turning their attention to another infectious disease with alarming rates of growth. Since at least 2016, cases of syphilis — a sexually transmitted disease […]

COMMENTARY

Decades, tragedies and heartaches later, Virginia’s mental health system still struggles

BY: - April 25, 2022

It’s been decades — at least three of them — with a continuous litany of embarrassments, mismanagement, tragedy and even death that have dogged Virginia’s dysfunctional system of mental health services and hospitals. And the drumbeat continues. A little over a week ago, two felons broke out of the Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg where […]

Youngkin wants to further loosen hiring requirements for health district directors

BY: - April 21, 2022

An amendment sought by Gov. Glenn Youngkin would significantly loosen criteria on who could lead local health departments, giving the state’s commissioner of health broad authority to appoint anyone they deemed qualified. The proposed changes to legislation passed by the General Assembly have raised eyebrows among some local health officials amid concerns over waning trust […]

Can Patrick County save its local hospital?

BY: - April 18, 2022

At first, Wren Williams just wanted to study if reopening the hospital was feasible. Over the last five years, the freshman delegate from Patrick County had watched his community struggle to revive Pioneer Community Hospital, a 25-bed facility that closed suddenly in 2017 amid bankruptcy proceedings for its Mississippi-based parent company. The news was so […]

No plans for new COVID precautions in Virginia, despite uptick in cases

BY: - April 13, 2022

BA.2, a more infectious subvariant of omicron, now makes up the majority of new COVID-19 cases in Virginia — just under 70 percent, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there are no plans to reinstate indoor mask mandates or earlier pandemic precautions amid a slight uptick in […]

suboxone package

Southwest Virginia patients struggle with access to addiction medication

BY: - April 11, 2022

Marcy Rosenbaum had a problem. For years, Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems had been running successful recovery programs from its clinics in Bristol and Saltville, small communities encircled by the Appalachian Mountains. Earlier this year, the federally qualified health center announced it was expanding services to Tazewell, which — like much of Virginia’s southwestern corner […]

Galax, Va., ranked first among 300 high-poverty counties in COVID-19 death rate

BY: - April 7, 2022

Galax, a small city in southwestern Virginia with less than 10,000 residents, is ranked first among 300 other high-poverty localities for its rate of COVID-19 deaths, a new report found. It’s not the first time the city has attracted attention for the high toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on its community. In the summer […]

Recreational marijuana still isn’t legal in Virginia and medical patients face access challenges

BY: - April 4, 2022

While recreational marijuana is technically legal in Virginia, the path to purchasing it in stores is still a long way off. In February, Republicans in the House of Delegates killed legislation that would have allowed limited retail sales later this year. The state’s recreational market is scheduled to begin in 2024, but with a long […]

With nowhere else to go, some Virginia foster children have been sleeping in government offices

BY: - April 1, 2022

Over a six-month period last year, 163 children in Virginia spent at least one night in hotels, emergency rooms or local government offices due to a shortage of foster homes and other permanent housing, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Friday. In response, Youngkin’s administration is launching a task force charged with bringing government partners together to […]

Virginia’s new behavioral health director orders strategic plan for struggling state agency

BY: - March 30, 2022

For the first time in nearly a decade, Virginia’s beleaguered behavioral health agency is developing a strategic plan to pull the state’s system out of an ongoing crisis in psychiatric care. Nelson Smith, appointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to lead the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, announced the plan at a Wednesday […]

Second COVID booster authorized by FDA for those 50 and older

BY: - March 29, 2022

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized another round of COVID-19 booster shots for people 50 and older, as well as those who are immunocompromised. The decision to amend an earlier emergency use authorization for a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is meant to increase protection against […]