From Us to You
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
There is no question the world as we knew it changed dramatically 4 months ago-- first with the layered impacts of COVID-19, then with the recent wave of nationwide protests and demonstrations against systemic racial injustice in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others.
For many, these series of events have created a new and deeply felt awareness of the inequities and disparities that persist throughout our communities, our state, and our nation. As we grapple with the effects of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, we, like many others, are taking this opportunity to re-examine ourselves and our focus.
Over the last 28 years, VHCF-funded initiatives have helped Virginians obtain needed medical, dental and behavioral health services; free prescription medicines; and health insurance via the Medicaid/FAMIS programs. While these initiatives have helped many Virginians, including a substantial number of people of color, there is so much more to be done to address health inequities in Virginia. Individuals served by the healthcare safety net, especially racial and ethnic minorities, have higher rates of chronic disease than the general population and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
As Virginia's only statewide health foundation, we take these disparities seriously and strive to help eliminate them via our ongoing mission of increasing access to primary and preventive healthcare. We, like many of our health safety net partners, have been on the frontlines of the fight against health inequity for many years. The challenges are even greater now with the many challenges of creating and maintaining safe environments for patients and staff amidst COVID-19.
The need for a strong healthcare safety net in Virginia remains constant, and will be ever more striking as the Commonwealth continues to see record unemployment levels. We at VHCF remain steadfast in our commitment to being part of the solution to health disparities and to increasing access to much-needed healthcare for uninsured and underserved Virginians.
While these times continue to be challenging, it is our hope that we have reached the crossroad which will ultimately provide all in Virginia the opportunity to live without health inequities and to realize our vision that "all Virginians have access to the health care they need."
Debbie Oswalt and the VHCF Team
Thousands newly eligible for Insurance via Medicaid and Federal Health Insurance Marketplace
As of June 20, an estimated 465,000 Virginians have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance. Of those, an estimated 265,000, and their families, are eligible for Medicaid (read a full report from the Kaiser Family Foundation here). Medicaid eligibility (for Virginians under 65) is based on monthly income and household size, and the following do not count as income: COVID-19 stimulus checks, additional federal unemployment ($600/week), or home, land, or retirement savings. If you do not already provide application assistance for your patients, visit Cover Virginia to learn more or locate an application assister near you, or take the online, on-demand Sign Up Now workshop on the VHCF website to learn how to help your patients apply.
Many families not eligible for Medicaid may be eligible for financial assistance from the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. While the 2020 Open Enrollment period for the Marketplace does not start until November, these Virginians may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, which would allow them to apply for coverage now. To qualify, they must apply within 60 days of job loss. For additional Special Enrollment Period qualifications, go to the Marketplace page on this website or visit www.healthcare.gov.
VHCF is Now Welcoming Concept Papers for its Fall 2020 Funding Cycle
VHCF's grant guidelines have been revised to reflect the times, please
review them here
Of particular interest are initiatives addressing health disparities due to systemic racism via the
addition/expansion of primary healthcare services; targeting pressing staffing or equipment needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., telehealth); or increasing access to a specific service, such as behavioral health.
Concept Papers are due to VHCF by 5:00 PM on July 22, 2020. (Due to the challenges many organizations are facing by working remotely due to COVID-19, VHCF is offering the option to submit Concept Papers via email. ALL submissions, whether by hard copy or email should be sent to Kari Parkhurst:
and must be received by 5 PM on the due date.)
Frontline Wellness Website launched
Workers on the frontline of COVID-19 are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health effects as they try to balance caring for their patients and taking care of themselves and their families. Many are especially susceptible to feelings of stress and anxiety, given the risk associated with treating patients during COVID-19. To help address these stresses, a special website www.frontlinewellnessva.org has been developed. It has been designed to bring relief, comfort, and perspective to those at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic. The website offers multiple wellness resources, self-care practices and recommendations, and a space to share and read personal testimonies. All healthcare workers, from administrative leadership to clinical staff, to other staff like medication assistance caseworkers, enrollment assisters, security, and housekeeping, are invited to visit the website and encouraged to share their stories.
We ask that you share information about this site with your staff and colleagues, as well as in your own newsletters. To help spread the word about this new resource, a communications toolkit has been developed with tips and language you can use. Access it here.
Looking to Expand Your Organization's Behavioral Health Capacity?
Consider hiring a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Psych NPs are the only behavioral health professionals, other than psychiatrists, who are trained and licensed to prescribe and manage psychotropic medicines. Psych NPs with previous experience as medical NPs are particularly valuable as integration of behavioral health services with primary care takes hold. Trained as both medical and behavioral providers, Psych NPs can bridge the cultural differences between medical and behavioral health. Unfortunately, there are only 225 licensed to practice in Virginia.
Fortunately, VHCF is helping address this problem in three ways. It provides:
--Full scholarships to NPs who want to become a Psych NP via a post-masters certificate program.
Newly-minted Psych NP scholarship recipients must work for 2 years in a health safety net organization (free clinic, FQHC, or similar organization). Click here to learn more about the scholarships.
--A pool of newly graduated Psych NPs who must repay their scholarships by working for 2 years in a health safety net organization. More than a dozen will be available in the coming year. Interested in hiring one? Contact Denise Daly Konrad at firstname.lastname@example.org.
--Grant funding to help you hire a hire a Psych NP
to develop or expand patient capacity or establish a broader scope of services. Concept papers for the upcoming grant cycle are due July 22, 2020. Email
or call them at 804-828-5804 for more information.
Neighborhood Health Highlights Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Latino Community
Across the state, Latinos, who make up less than 10% of the total population, make up about 45% of the state's COVID-19 cases (with reported demographic data). At Neighborhood Health, "Ninety percent of [the] positive cases have been Hispanic, even though they're 50 percent of [the] patient population" shared Dr. Basim Khan, Executive Director. Read the full article to learn more about the socioeconomic factors that contribute to this issue here. While many of the health department's educational materials about COVID-19 have been translated into multiple languages, including Spanish, activists are calling for an "all-out Spanish language media campaign" to better reach this population.
For more demographic information about COVID-19 cases, visit the VDH dashboard here.
What We're Learning
- Mental Health and Wellness in a Racism Pandemic - President Obama joined Congressman John Lewis; Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson; Writer and Survivor of Police Brutality, Leon Ford, Jr.; and Youth Leader, LeQuan Muhammad, in a conversation moderated by Activist and Author, Darnell Moore to discuss the emotional and mental toll racism takes on people of color.
- Public Health on Call - This podcast from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health features interviews with public health experts to share science and evidence-based insights on the latest COVID-19 news.
- Weather the Storm - The Headspace app offers guided meditations, relaxation exercises, workouts, and animated videos. A selection of content is free for everyone during COVID-19, the full library of Headspace Plus resources is free for healthcare professionals through the end of 2020.
Announcing VHCF Health Safety Net Grants
VHCF's Board of Trustees awarded the following health safety net continuation grants totaling $680,771 and providing a wide range of services. These grants include:
- $115,128 to Daily Planet Health Services to support the salary of a part-time dentist at its Southside Richmond site
- $112,500 to Central Virginia Health Services to underwrite the salary of a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Hopewell-Prince George Community Health Center
- $98,904 to Arlington Free Clinic to expand dental services with a new part-time dentist and part-time dental hygienist
- $96,051 to GPW Health Center to hire an additional full-time Physician Assistant at its Manassas location
- $77,250 to Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke to expand clinic capacity with a full-time nurse practitioner
- $73,125 to Shenandoah Community Health Clinic to support the salaries of two full-time behavioral health clinicians in Shenandoah County Schools
- $70,313 to Central Virginia Health Services to underwrite part of the salary of a physician to expand capacity at Westmoreland Medical Center
- $37,500 to Youth for Tomorrow to support the salary of a behavioral health clinician in its new outpatient counseling center in Fauquier County
Upcoming VHCF trainings/meetings
- Trainings on how to use The Pharmacy Connection
For additional training dates or more information click
or contact Lisa Hueston, TPC Program Manager, at (804) 828-5803.
Don't forget about the Professional Development funds available to you!
The Big Walker Dental Clinic in Wytheville is preparing for the eventual reopening of preventive dental services by using VHCF's Professional Development funds to cover remote supervision dental hygienist training. Are you (or a staff member) considering taking advantage of learning opportunities? VHCF has a variety of informational resources to help you and your staff meet your goals. Check out some of our resources for providers here! Don't see what you are looking for? Let us know!
VHCF also offers funding for capacity building, including:
- Up to $3,500 to underwrite the development of a new strategic plan
- Up to $650 per organization per year to pay for professional development opportunities that enhance the skills or knowledge of health safety net staff or board members
Contact a Program Officer at (804) 828-5804 to learn more.
Does your clinic have any innovative programs or creative solutions to share?