11,000 Vacancies in Virginia Health Care, with Hospital Contract Labor Costs Up 154 Percent

There are over 11,000 open positions in healthcare in Virginia, and hospitals in the Commonwealth saw their costs for temporary contract labor increase a combined 154 percent between January 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) said in an announcement of a new “On Board Virginia” website promoting healthcare employment.

“The past few years have been especially trying for health care providers, with workforce issues and staff burnout among the challenges we have faced,” Centra Health President and CEO Amy Carrier said in the press release. “Having a robust workforce with trained and caring clinicians is pivotal to meet the medical needs of the families and communities we serve, now and in the future. With the launch of On Board Virginia, we are taking action to shore up the health care workforce in the Commonwealth.”

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Richmond Ambulance Authority Donates Ambulance to Ukraine

The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) is donating an ambulance as part of the national U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine program, announced Friday at an event with Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel.

Virginia healthcare providers coordinated by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association are also donating medical supplies to Ukraine through the program created by Christopher Manson, Vice President of Government Relations at Illinois-based OSF Healthcare.

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Patients’ Average COVID-19 Average Hospital Stay Up During Omicron in Virginia

The average length of stay for COVID-19 patients went up in the first quarter of 2022 according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA).

“What we saw in the Omicron wave was that those coming into hospitals were staying longer for their COVID hospitalization with an average length of stay of ten-and-a-half days,” VHHA Vice President of Data Analytics, David Vaamonde said during a Monday presentation of hospital and emergency department visit trends.

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Community Violence Top Public Health Concern for Virginia Voters

A Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association poll found that community violence and crime is the top public health concern for Virginia voters.

“In the public opinion survey from Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy, 51 percent of respondents cited community violence and crime as the top public health concern for their families. Health care workforce shortages, which have been intensified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was the second most commonly cited public health concern with 25 percent of those polled listing it as their primary concern,” a VHHA release states.

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Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association Launches New Hospital Price Transparency Tool

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) launched an online tool to direct consumers to price transparency documents, including estimates and services pricing for hospitals across Virginia.

VHHA President and CEO Sean Connaughton said in a press release, “This new online tool continues a long tradition of Virginia hospitals promoting transparency about health care prices, the COVID-19 pandemic, inpatient behavioral health admissions, health care quality in hospitals, and so much more. With the support of our member hospitals and health systems, we are pleased to present this information to the public.”

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Virginia Department of Health Eliminates Guidance for COVID-19 Exposed Individuals to Quarantine from School

The Virginia Department of Health has eliminated a recommendation for asymptomatic COVID-19-exposed individuals in schools to quarantine. The updated COVID-19 guidance applies to K-12 education, child care, and camps, although individuals who test positive still need to isolate at home for at least five days.

“This revised guidance outlines that quarantine is no longer routinely recommended for asymptomatic individuals after exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals. In general masks are not routinely recommended in these settings, indoors or outdoors, except during isolation as specified below,” states the guidance, which applies to teachers, staff, and children.

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Virginia Gov. Youngkin Reiterates His Budget Priorities in New Letter to Money Legislators

As representatives from the General Assembly’s money committees begin work on a budget compromise, Governor Glenn Youngkin sent a letter to them reiterating his top priorities for the budget.

There’s a tension between the House of Delegates and the Senate proposals on how to spend revenue surplus and one-time resources. Both chambers’ proposals advance increased spending, but the House of Delegates prioritizes extensive tax cuts with more moderate new spending while the Senate includes more new spending but moderate cuts.

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Healthgrades Ranks 12 Virginia Hospitals Among Top Five Percent in the U.S.

Twelve Virginia hospitals have been named to Healthgrades’ list of the top 250 hospitals in the U.S., a ranking based on patient outcomes. Henrico Doctors’ Hospital and several of its campuses and Sentara Princess Anne Hospital made it onto Healthgrades’ top 100 list. No Virginia hospitals made it onto the top 50 list.

“Now more than ever, patients are learning the importance of taking control of their health and using resources like Healthgrades to find the perfect hospital and caregiver match,” Healthgrades Chief Medical Officer and Head of Data Science Brad Bowman, M.D., said in a HCA Health Systems press release.

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Virginia COVID-19 Hospitalizations Beat January 2021 Record

Virginia COVID-19 hospitalizations of confirmed and pending COVID-19 cases climbed to 3,329 on Friday and to 3,478 on Saturday, beating the previous daily record of 3,329 set on January 13, 2021, according to data from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA). That’s part of a broader trend of higher-than-before COVID-19 daily case counts in Virginia. On January 2, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 19,506 cases, over twice as much as the previous high of 9,914 on January 17, 2021. On Friday, the VDH reported 18,309 new cases, with a seven-day average of 14,645.

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Virginia Ranks First in U.S. in Fall 2021 Hospital Safety Rating

Virginia ranked number one among states for hospital safety in a fall measure of patient safety that examines both hospital process and structure and patient outcomes.

“Virginia is blessed to have a vast network of hospitals to care for people in their hour of need. While these hospitals are each unique in their own way, they share a strong commitment to ensuring all patients receive safe, effective, high-quality care,” Carilion Clinic Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Arner said in a Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) press release. Arner is Chair of the VHHA Board of Directors.

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Addiction-Based Mental Health Crisis Still Getting Worse in Virginia

During the beginning of COVID-19, hospital inpatient volume and emergency department visits decreased, in part due to people postponing treatment. But the same data showed an increase in the number of patients getting treatment for alcohol, drug use, and related mental disorders, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported in April. In a Friday press conference, VHHA Vice President of Data and Analytics David Vaamonde reported that increased treatment for those kinds of disorders continued into the first two quarters of 2021 — one of only two Major Diagnostic Categories (MDCs) that saw growth since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re looking at MDCs where volumes actually increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have alcohol and drug use, and drug induced organic mental health disorders, obviously a very concerning trend there, and then diseases and disorders of the respiratory system and infectious and parasitic diseases,” Vaamonde said, adding that the respiratory, infectious, and parasitic categories line up with what a COVID-19 patient would have.

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Virginia Ranks Among Top States Most Prepared for Public Health Emergencies

Doctor with arms folded, holding stethescope

Virginia’s preparedness for public health emergencies ranks it among the top four in the U.S., according to the 2021 National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI). The index looks at data from 64 sources across the public and private health sectors, creating an overview of health protections in place in each state; the national preparedness level is 6.8, but Virginia scored 7.4 out of ten.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a real-world stress test of the readiness of Virginia governmental, health care delivery, and emergency management systems to respond to a major public health threat. Throughout this time, Virginia’s hospitals, public health and emergency management agencies, and other public and private sector stakeholders have effectively navigated this unprecedented crisis while facing many pandemic-related challenges,” states a Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VVHHA) press release.

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Biden, Northam Celebrate New COVID-19 Case Lows, End of Virginia’s Social Distancing and Capacity Restrictions

Virginia’s COVID-19 social distancing and capacity restrictions ended Friday morning at midnight. On Friday afternoon, President Joe Biden and Governor Ralph Northam highlighted Virginia’s progress on COVID-19 case numbers and vaccinations in a stop at Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria.

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Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association Starts Podcast Series on 2021 Candidates and Healthcare

Set up of podcast with microphone and desktop computer with editing software.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) have announced a podcast series focusing on the 2021 candidates for office and their stances on healthcare. The series features statewide candidates from both parties addressing the healthcare issues of the Commonwealth. 

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COVID-19 Hospitalization, Daily Case Numbers Drop to October 2020 Levels

empty hospital room

After a major wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations during the winter, Virginia’s COVID-19 daily case and hospitalization statistics have gone down to levels not seen since October 2020.

On Sunday, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 761 new cases, and on Monday, the VDH reported 611 new cases, down from the worst days January 16, 17, and 18 which reached respectively, 6,757 new cases, 9,914 new cases, and 7,245 new cases.

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Hospitals Saw 10 Percent Decrease in Inpatient Volumes in 2020, Driving Lower Revenue

Virginia hospitals saw a 10 percent decrease in inpatient volumes in 2020 and a 30 percent decrease in emergency department visits, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA). On Wednesday, VHHA staff held a virtual press conference presenting an update on hospitalization and emergency department visit trends. Hospitalization data does not show a COVID-19-lockdown baby boom, but rather a decrease in usage of hospital pregnancy services when compares to previous years. On the other hand, inpatient discharge data shows an increase in treatment of alcohol, drug use, and related mental disorders, a trend that began before COVID-19.

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Sen. Tim Kaine Discusses the $1.9T Relief Bill, His Lingering COVID Symptoms, Reflects on January 6th Capitol Breach

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) appeared on the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) Patients Come First podcast on Sunday. Kaine explained two upcoming financial relief packages, provided an update on Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and explained his Medicare-X Choice Act.

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