Dogwood Daily: Millions in rural broadband funding coming to Virginia
By Keya Vakil
June 13, 2019

Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. After yesterday’s special primary wrap-up edition, we’re now back to our regularly scheduled programming and we’ve got a round-up of all today’s Virginia news coming right up.

But First…

Two new reports don’t have the greatest things to say about Virginia’s healthcare system. ranks Virginia in the top 15 states for most nursing home complaints, while the Commonwealth Fund’s 2019 Scorecard on State Health System Performance places Virginia’s health ranking as 29th best in the nation.

One caveat: the ranking relies on 2017 data, so it doesn’t factor in the state’s Medicaid expansion. Hopefully next year’s numbers are better for the Commonwealth.

5 Things you need to know today…

  1. Progressive prosecutors win big in Northern Virginia – Two prosecutors who centered their campaigns around racial inequities in the criminal justice system and pledged to put fewer people in prison won their Northern Virginia primaries on Tuesday. The two winners – Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in Arlington and Steve Descano in Fairfax – were both endorsed by former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe and are part of a growing national trend in which reformer candidates are winning prosecutor’s elections. Dehghani-Tafti is running unopposed in November, while Descano has an independent opponent, but Fairfax (like Arlington) is heavily Democratic and Descano is favored to win.
  2. Ballad Health under fire for handling of hospital in Norton – Ballad Health stopped performing surgeries at a Norton hospital in October, but failed to warn patients or the state. Ballad is required to obtain state permission before reducing any of its service lines, and while Ballad has submitted a plan to consolidate services in Wise County, nothing has been approved. The cessation of surgery and failure to notify patients has sparked criticism of both Ballad and state regulators, and with Ballad planning further consolidation of services in southwest Virginia, residents are worried things will only get worse.
  3. Planned Parenthood launches political advocacy group to protect abortion rights in Virginia – Planned Parenthood is launching a regional political advocacy group to protect abortion rights in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. The announcement comes as conservative states have enacted a wave of oppressive abortion bans and some of Virginia’s abortion laws hang in the balance. According to Planned Parenthood, the political 501(c)(4) group will advocate politically to protect access to reproductive health care services.
  4. Norfolk’s new $224 million psychiatric center will prevent children from being sent out of state – After receiving state approval last year, the Norfolk’s Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters will build a new mental health facility to address the increase in mental health disorders among children. One of the key goals of the facility is to fill treatment gaps in Virginia. Currently, psychiatric patients who have multiple health issues frequently end up in programs out of state. The new psychiatric center also aims to prevent children from spending days in the emergency room while waiting for a bed to open up in a psychiatric center. Construction on the new facility, which will cost $224 million, is set to begin this fall and doors are set to open in 2022.
  5. FCC announces nearly $37 million in funding to expand rural broadband in Virginia – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced this week that it will direct $37 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to nearly 14,00 homes and businesses in rural Virginia. The bulk of the money, $28.2 million, will go to Central Virginia Services, a company that will provide service to almost 11,000 homes and businesses in 11 different counties in Virginia. The digital divide is a huge issue in Virginia, but it finally seems like lawmakers and regulators are taking it seriously.
  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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