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See below to stay up to date on what we are doing to strengthen public health practice and promote sound public health policy.

  • 30 Jul 2014 2:28 PM | Deleted user

    Ebola, the killer of more than 670 people in four West African countries since February, has spread beyond Africa only once. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, infectious disease experts warn. 

    The symptoms appear from two days to three weeks after infection, meaning it’s possible for an infected person who doesn’t feel ill to board a plane, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading in the U.K. Since Ebola in its earliest stages can resemble nothing more than flu, no one else would know either, he said. (Bloomberg)

    Ebola, the killer of more than 670 people in four West African countries since February, has spread beyond Africa only once. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, infectious disease experts warn.
    The symptoms appear from two days to three weeks after infection, meaning it’s possible for an infected person who doesn’t feel ill to board a plane, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading in the U.K. Since Ebola in its earliest stages can resemble nothing more than flu, no one else would know either, he said.
  • 01 Jun 2014 11:24 AM | Deleted user

    Addiction and trauma compromise quality of life for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, and their families: drug or alcohol use was involved in 30 percent of the Army’s suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009 and in more than 45 percent of non-fatal suicide attempts from 2005-2009.

    Join Sandra Rasmussen, PhD, RN, LMHC, CAS-F, author of AJN's Distinguished Book of the Year Addiction Treatment: Theory and Practice at Health on the Homefront June 16-17 to discuss a management model health professionals can use to help these men and women improve their health and increase quality of life. Rasmussen is currently an addiction therapist at Williamsville Wellness in Hanover County and teaches graduate students in psychology and public health at Walden University and in counseling psychology at the Chesapeake campus of Cambridge College. She was recognized by the Virginia Public Health Association in 2004 for her “outstanding leadership, commitment and support to the public health of Virginia” and in 2012 received Fellow Status from the American Academy Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders.

    Click here for complete details on Health on the Homefront, and be sure to like the event on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @VPHAHomefront. 

  • 31 May 2014 5:37 PM | Deleted user

    Dr. Cynthia Romero, MD, former Virginia Health Commissioner and a past-president of the Medical Society of Virginia, will be joining us at Health on the Homefront on June 16-17 for a session titled “Special Considerations for Clinicians Serving Members of the Military and Their Families.” With her background in family practice in the Hampton Roads region and her term as Chief Medical Officer and Vice President for Quality and Medical Affairs at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Dr. Romero has extensive experience serving the needs of military families and has directly dealt with many of the issues they face.

    She has been a strong advocate for her patients and for the medical profession through her leadership roles in multiple professional medical organizations. Dr. Romero has served as President of the Philippine Medical Association of Southeastern Virginia, Inc., the Tidewater Academy of Family Physicians, the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians, the Norfolk Academy of Medicine and, in 2011, she was the President of the Medical Society of Virginia. Her leadership continued during her term as Virginia’s Health Commissioner from January, 2013 through January, 2014. She has been recognized with the Mead Johnson Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians for excellence in clinical medicine and community services. 

    Dr. Romero was recently appointed Director of EVMS' M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health, founded in 2012 to focus on training the next generation of community-minded health professionals. In September 2013 she spoke at UVA's Medical Center Hour on Creating Healthy Communities - check it out here.

    Click here for complete details on Health on the Homefront, and be sure to like the event on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @VPHAHomefront. 

  • 28 May 2014 4:45 PM | Deleted user

    At our upcoming conference on June 16-17 in Hampton, entitled Health on the Homefront, the Virginia Public Health Association is honored to welcome Dr. Jan Kemp, RN, PhD as one of our keynote speakers!

    Dr. Kemp, a co-author of the 2012 Suicide in the Military Report, is the National Mental Health Program Director for Suicide Prevention and Community Engagement with the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services. In 2009, Dr. Kemp was a White House Appointee to the Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces and in 2010 served on the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. Major honors include the VA Secretary’s Exceptional Service Award in 2007, and she was the Service to America Federal Employee of the Year in 2009. She was featured on “Huffpost Live” speaking about suicide prevention in September.

    In her presentation “Veteran Suicide Prevention Strategies,” Dr. Kemp will discuss how communities can provide ongoing support and assistance to Veterans and their families. Gain an overview of current Veteran suicide statistics and data, and review current programs in the VA to work with Veterans and their families. Participants will understand the potential mental health needs of Veterans, appreciate the importance of community based approaches to suicide prevention, and know how to get a Veteran help in a crisis.

    Click here for complete details on Health on the Homefront, and be sure to like the event on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @VPHAHomefront. 

  • 28 May 2014 2:59 PM | Deleted user

    At our upcoming conference on June 16-17 in Hampton, entitled Health on the Homefront, the Virginia Public Health Association will be deeply honored to welcome Retired Major General Mark Graham and Mrs. Carol Graham (pictured at right) as our keynote speakers. Their presentation, Our Sons Died Fighting Different Battles: One Family’s Story, will address the stigma surrounding mental health, raise awareness of the warning signs and risk factors for suicide, and discuss real life coping strategies. In a speech at Fort Knox in 2009, Major General Graham stated, “From our personal tragedies, my wife Carol and our daughter Melanie and I have come to realize that in order to survive, we had to use our brokenness to reach out and openly share our story and try to give hope to others…As an Army and as a nation, we must get in front of suicide, work to prevent it by action, not just figure it out after the fact…We have pledged to use Kevin’s death to raise awareness in the military to the dangers of untreated depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other mental health issues.” (Rose, M. (2009, Winter). Major General Mark Graham: A legacy of hope. T.A.P.S. Magazine, 15(4).)

    In 2003 the Grahams’ son Kevin, a senior ROTC cadet at the University of Kentucky, died by suicide in the apartment he shared with his two siblings. Seven months after Kevin’s death, his brother - the Grahams’ eldest son - 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Graham, was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive devise (IED). Jeffrey died with Kevin’s driver’s license in his pocket. Since that time, Major General Graham and his wife, Carol, have been tireless champions of military and civilian efforts to promote mental health and suicide-prevention awareness, and to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health care. Their personal tragedy and dedication to honoring their sons (both pictured at left) have been widely documented in the media

    Major General Mark Graham has had a distinguished thirty-five year career with the military, retiring from the US Army in 2012. His final position was as the Director, U.S. Army Forces Command, where he oversaw the plans, operations and training for Army forces stationed in the Continental United States and ensured conventional forces were prepared for worldwide deployment and combat.  Major General Graham’s numerous military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

    Mrs. Carol Graham is nationally recognized for her efforts in suicide prevention and mental health. She has received numerous awards and other recognition including the President of the United States ‘Call to Service’ Award, Governor’s Commendation (State of Oklahoma) for Suicide Prevention and Depression Awareness; the Texas Governor’s “Yellow Rose of Texas” award; US Army Forces Command’s Commander’s Award; US Forces Command Well Being Award; Secretary of the Army Public Service Award; the 2009 Suicide Prevention Advocacy Recognition in Kentucky (SPARK) Award; and the Shining Lights of Hope Award of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation.

    Click here for complete details on Health on the Homefront, and be sure to like the event on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @VPHAHomefront.





  • 02 May 2014 7:35 AM | Deleted user

    The Virginia Department of Health announced today that a portion of the Rappahannock River will be closed to shellfish harvesting due to flooding. The emergency closure is effective May 1 through May 15, 2014, though the area may be reopened earlier if water quality monitoring results indicate that the area is no longer unsafe.

    Maps of the affected areas are posted on the Division of Shellfish Sanitation’s home page at The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish.

    “Monitoring shellfish harvesting beds is an important means to protect the health of Virginians,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “We watch shellfish beds for contaminants after major storms to ensure any seafood harvested there does not contain harmful substances that will make consumers of these shellfish ill.”

    Heavy rainfall in a portion of western Virginia with the ensuing runoff may have washed animal waste and human sewage into the rivers. Due to potential microbiological and chemical pollution hazards, shellfish taken from areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption.

    Ingesting shellfish taken from the closed areas at this time could cause gastrointestinal illnesses including norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis.

    For more information on shellfish closures, see the frequently asked questions on shellfish condemnations at

  • 09 Apr 2014 4:21 PM | Deleted user

    Today, as part of the Obama administration’s work to make our health care system more transparent, affordable, and accountable, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the release of new, privacy-protected data on services and procedures provided to Medicare beneficiaries by physicians and other health care professionals. The new data also show payment and submitted charges, or bills, for those services and procedures by provider.

    “Currently, consumers have limited information about how physicians and other health care professionals practice medicine,” said Secretary Sebelius “This data will help fill that gap by offering insight into the Medicare portion of a physician’s practice. The data released today afford researchers, policymakers and the public a new window into health care spending and physician practice patterns.”

    The new data set has information for over 880,000 distinct health care providers who collectively received $77 billion in Medicare payments in 2012, under the Medicare Part B Fee-For-Service program. With this data, it will be possible to conduct a wide range of analyses that compare 6,000 different types of services and procedures provided, as well as payments received by individual health care providers.

    The information also allows comparisons by physician, specialty, location, the types of medical service and procedures delivered, Medicare payment, and submitted charges. Physicians and other health care professionals determine what they will charge for services and procedures provided to patients and these “charges” are the amount the physician or health care professional generally bills for the service or procedure.

    "Data transparency is a key aspect of transformation of the health care delivery system,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “While there’s more work ahead, this data release will help beneficiaries and consumers better understand how care is delivered through the Medicare program.”

    Last May, CMS released hospital charge data allowing consumers to compare what hospitals charge for common inpatient and outpatient services across the country.

    To view the physician dataset, please visit:

    Full Press Release

  • 09 Apr 2014 4:19 PM | Deleted user

    The nation’s health is improving in more than half of the critical measures that are known to have major influence in reducing preventable disease and death, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Healthy People 2020 represents the nation’s current 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. Twenty-six specific measuresundefinedin categories such as access to care, maternal and child health, tobacco use, nutrition and physical activityundefinedwere identified as high-priority health issues. These Leading Health Indicators (LHI), if addressed appropriately, have the potential to significantly reduce major influences or threats on the public’s health that cause illness and death.

    “The Leading Health Indicators are intended to motivate action to improve the health of the whole population. Today’s LHI Progress Report shows that we are doing just that,” says Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health. Koh also notes that with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we can expect to see more improvements across these indicators.

    There are 14 health indicators that have either been met or are improving in this first third of the decade, including:

    • Fewer adults smoking cigarettes;
    • Fewer children exposed to secondhand smoke;
    • More adults meeting physical activity targets; and
    • Fewer adolescents using alcohol or illicit drugs. 

    While progress has been made across several indicators, the LHI Progress Report highlights areas where further work is needed to improve the health of all Americans. There are 11 Leading Health Indicators that have not shown significant improvement at this point in the decade, and 1 indicator where only baseline data are available.

    For more information about the Leading Health Indicators Progress Update, please visit

    Full Press Release

  • 25 Mar 2014 1:00 PM | Deleted user

    The Virginia General Assembly returned on March 24, 2014 for a special session to complete the work on passing a budget and to consider options for closing the insurance coverage gap in Virginia.

    The Affordable Care Act intended to expand access to health care coverage by increasing Medicaid eligibility to all individuals below 138% of the federal poverty limit and creating health care exchanges that would offer subsidies to individuals with incomes between 100% – 400% of the federal poverty limit. Many Virginia lawmakers have been opposed to expanding Medicaid, citing concerns that it would be too costly to the state budget and noting their opposition to expanding government funded health care. 

    • Failure to expand Medicaid will leave a coverage gap in Virginia, with many individuals and families currently making less than the federal poverty level, but not otherwise eligible for Medicaid, being ineligible for insurance subsidies on the insurance exchange. 
    • This means that while a family of four earning between $8,500 and $23,000 would need to pay full price for insurance, those earning more can qualify for subsidies.  Nearly 200,000 Virginians fall into this coverage gap, of whom, approximately 70% are working families.
    • Virginia businesses already pay over $1 billion per year to insurers to cover costs for care for the uninsured.  These costs will continue to rise without closing the coverage gap of the uninsured. Most uninsured Virginians receive care at rural or teaching hospitals. Due to changes in federal funding, these hospitals face a shortfall of over $368M in indigent care funding from 2017-2022 if Virginia does not cover the uninsured.
    • Virginia tax payers and businesses forgo $4-$5 million in revenues each day that the Commonwealth does not expand Medicaid coverage.

    Neither the Senate nor House passed a bill for Medicaid expansion during the 2014 General Assembly.  However, the Senate has proposed an alternative, called Marketplace Virginia, which would seek to use federal money that would otherwise cover Medicaid expansion, to provide insurance premium assistance for low income Virginians, not covered by Medicaid, to purchase insurance through a managed care system.  The Senate Finance Committee has posted a presentation of Marketplace Virginia.

    The House budget does not contain any provisions for addressing the coverage gap in Virginia and the majority of delegates are opposed to such a provision; the Senate budget includes Marketplace Virginia.  Governor McAuliffe is due to release his budget this week; he has indicated that he will not sign a budget that does not contain provisions for closing the coverage gap. 

    With approximately one million Virginians (13%) currently uninsured, closing the coverage gap will have striking implications for the citizens of Virginia.  We urge you to get informed and to contact your state legislator to express your views.  You can find contact information for your legislator at the General Assembly website by clicking on Who’s My Legislator at the top of the page and entering your address.

    Links to additional information and resources:

  • 18 Mar 2014 2:21 PM | Deleted user
    New campaign empowers women.

    (Richmond, Va.) The most recent surveillance data collected by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH)indicates that 6,600 women are living with HIV disease in Virginia.Forty-eight percent of those cases progressed to an AIDS diagnosis by the end of last year. This data shines a light on the impact that HIV has upon women.

    “HIV and AIDS are taking a toll on the lives of women and their families,” said Interim State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH. “The health of women is indicative of the health of our Commonwealth.One way to improve the lives of women, and therefore families, is to empower women with knowledge and support for healthy living.”

    VDH is doing just that.In collaboration with a coalition of public and private sector partners, VDH has launched a new statewide public health campaign.The campaign, called Virginia Greater Than AIDS (Virginia>AIDS), reaches out to women through personal stories and conversations. More information...

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