Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Northam allocates CARES Act dollars to help reimburse free clinics for COVID-19 expenses, ongoing coronavirus response at public universities

W&M upper class students report for fall classes over Labor Day weekend. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Jim Agnew, W&M News)
W&M upper class students report for fall classes over Labor Day weekend. (WYDaily file/Courtesy of Jim Agnew, W&M News)

The state will use funding from the federal CARES Act to reimburse members of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics for clinics’ COVID-19 expenses, including personal protective equipment, sanitation measures, telehealth, and hiring new staff.

Gov. Ralph Northam made that announcement recently, saying that allocation will be $3 million.

Northam also announced Monday more than $116 million in CARES Act funding to support Virginia’s institutions of higher education. Consistent with the General Assembly’s recently advanced budget, the funding will be distributed to public universities and medical centers to support telework and distance learning infrastructure, personal protective equipment, sanitization and cleaning, and testing for students, staff, and faculty.

Higher education

Virginia has some of the best colleges and universities in the nation, and they are working overtime to keep students, staff, and faculty safe,” Northam said in a prepared statement. “This additional $116 million in federal funding will go a long way towards closing COVID-related budget gaps at these institutions, and will ensure they can continue to provide a world-class education in the midst of this public health crisis.”

Virginia’s colleges and universities have significantly adapted programs and practices to meet the unprecedented challenges brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Increased expenses for COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, and a shift to virtual learning, has caused all to spend beyond the previously allocated federal dollars, According to a news release from the governor’s office.

William & Mary was allocated $4,950,109. Here’s a full list.

Approximately $115.6 million of this newly allocated funding will go directly to institutions to cover previous and upcoming COVID-19 expenses through Dec. 30, 2020.

In addition, $600,000 in federal funds will support the Virtual Library of Virginia, a consortium of public and nonprofit academic libraries within the state. VIVA will use this funding to purchase educational films, documentaries, and television programming to support distance learning at all public institutions, according to the governor’s office.

Free clinics

“Our free clinics are a critical part of our health safety net, providing care for those with no insurance,” Northam said in a prepared statement. “Thousands of Virginians access health care through free clinics, and I am glad we can help support those clinics’ needs at this time. This global health crisis truly demonstrates how important it is that everyone has access to health care.”

Virginia’s free clinics serve an essential role in Virginia’s health care safety net, providing care for free or on a sliding scale to uninsured patients. An estimated 226,000 Virginians with incomes between 139 percent and 300 percent of the poverty level had no health coverage prior to the onset of the pandemic, according to a recent report by the Virginia Health Care Foundation/Urban Institute.

In addition to existing patients, free clinics have seen demand for their services rise, as more Virginians lose jobs and, thus, employer-sponsored health care, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“Virginia’s free clinics are a vital resource for Virginians who lack health insurance,” said Rufus Phillips, CEO of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. “Clinics are filling the increasing need for their services created by the pandemic, but that comes with a cost—at a time when donations are down. We’re happy for our clinics to receive this additional state assistance to help them provide the essential health care every Virginian deserves.”

Clinics operate with small budgets, and the pandemic curtailed regular fundraising events.

Expenses that the pandemic made necessary—such as additional personal protective equipment, increased use of telehealth, hiring additional staff to meet demand, and other health modifications—have put a burden on clinics’ budgets, according to the governor’s office.

The VAFCC estimates free clinics have incurred an average $40,000 each in unbudgeted expenses for needs related to the pandemic.

Free clinics have also provided COVID-19 testing, and often are seen as a trusted resource for health information to vulnerable populations, according to the governor’s office.

Here are the two free clinics in the Historic Triangle listed in VAFCC’s website:

  • Angels of Mercy
    7151 Richmond Road, Suite 401, Williamsburg
    757-565-1700
    Current hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am-7pm
    Current services: Primary care via telehealth
    Currently accepting new patients: Call or visit website.
  • Lackey Clinic
    1620 Old Williamsburg Road, Yorktown
    757-886-0608
    Current hours: Monday through Thursday from 8:30am5pm, Fridays from 8:30-noon
    Current services: Primary care, mental health services and counseling services, pharmacy, dental services
    Currently accepting new patients: Call or visit website.

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John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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