2021-5-11

Effie M. Smith Memorial Scholarship Established at SVCC

Effie M. Smith

Through the generosity of family and friends of Effie M. Smith, Nurse Aide students from Greensville County will be eligible to apply and receive a scholarship.  

This scholarship was established to recognize the dedication to the nursing profession of Mrs. Smith who was a Nursing Assistant for many years.  Nurse Aides play a vital role in the healthcare profession, especially in the long-term care sector.  The compassion nurse aides show to their patients is second to none.  

Nurse Aide students at SVCC will now have a great opportunity for a scholarship because of that same thoughtfulness of the family and friends of Mrs. Smith.

McEachin Announces Tools For Vaccine Accessibility

WASHINGTON – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today highlighted new tools from the White House to help Virginia residents get vaccinated. Virginians sixteen years or older can now input their ZIP code at www.vaccines.gov / www.vacunas.gov or text their ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) / VACUNA (822862) to get help making a vaccine appointment at a nearby location.

“With these new and helpful tools, it’s now easier than ever to find a vaccine near you,” McEachin said.  “Getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to crush the pandemic, protect ourselves and our loved ones, and help us start to return to normal.  Every Virginian ages sixteen and up is eligible now, so visit vaccines.gov or text your ZIP code to GETVAX today to make your appointment.”

Right now, more than 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a vaccine site.  Across the country, there are nearly 40,000 local pharmacies, more than 650 community health centers and hundreds of community vaccination centers and mobile clinics where Americans can get a shot.  These new vaccine finder tools make it quicker and more convenient than ever to make an appointment.

Public health officials are urging every eligible person to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.  The vaccines are safe and effective, providing significant protection against severe illness and helping slow the spread of the virus in our communities.  Studies have shown these vaccines to be remarkably effective, causing an 80 percent reduction in deaths and a 70 percent reduction in hospitalizations among seniors.

“Our own doctors tell us that getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and our communities,” McEachin added.  “You’re eligible right now, and there are people waiting to give you a shot – so use these new tools to get yourself, your family and your neighbors a vaccine today.”

Under the leadership of President Biden and Democrats in Congress, the pace of vaccination has quickly ramped up over the last three months thanks to the critical resources delivered by the American Rescue Plan.  As of this week, more than 105 million Americans are fully vaccinated.  More than 147 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including more than 80 percent of seniors, educators, school staff and childcare workers, as well as 90 percent of doctors.

 

National Stroke Awareness Month

VCU Health CMH Stroke Program Coordinator Lisa Smith, RN, BSN, CICU

South Hill, VA (5/3/21) – A stroke happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die. There are three types of stroke: Ischemic is caused by a clot, Hemorrhagic is caused by a rupture and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" is caused by a temporary blockage.

About one in four stroke survivors is at risk for another stroke. Fortunately, almost 80 percent of second clot-related strokes may be preventable. Managing high blood pressure and discussing medicines with your physician are two options. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.

Learn the FAST warning signs:

F- Face Drooping
A -Arm Weakness
S -Speech Difficulty
T- Time to call 911

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) is a Primary Stroke Center deemed by The Joint Commission and American Stroke Association. The quality of care they provide meets the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.

VCU Health CMH also earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Stroke Program Coordinator Lisa Smith, RN, BSN, CICU, said, “Our team has worked very hard to achieve these goals and we are so proud to meet these requirements to have better outcomes for our stroke patients.”

Visit vcu-cmh.org for more information.

National Women’s Health Week

Terry Wootten, RN, MSN, CNM, of CMH Women’s Health Services.

South Hill, VA (5/4/21) – May 9-15 is National Women’s Health Week. Starting with Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and those who are like mothers to us because of their selfless acts of service and unconditional love they give their families and others.

“Women make sure everyone else is healthy but can’t find time for themselves,” said Terry Wootten, RN, MSN, CNM, of CMH Women’s Health Services. “Women wear so many hats and play so many roles inside and outside the family, that they put themselves last and do not take care of themselves. It’s time to encourage the women in our lives to take care of themselves because they deserve it.”

Especially because of the past year with the pandemic, a lot of women are feeling exhausted, mentally strained and lonely, despite being around their families. They haven’t been able to relax and recharge by getting together with friends. Be creative this Mother’s Day and give the women in your life the time to do what they need to do safely, however that works best for them.

Make sure they are taking care of themselves from a physical standpoint. Skin and cervical cancer screenings should be part of an annual physical, along with blood work to check for cholesterol and blood pressure screenings for heart health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and the American Cancer Society recommends regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 45. Osteoporosis is a real challenge for women. Bone density testing should begin no later than age 65 – sooner if there are risk factors.

We recommend that women participate in these screenings because we selfishly want to keep them around to be there for us. All the screenings listed above can be completed right here in South Hill with VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital. Call (434) 584-2273 to make an appointment with a primary care provider or specialist and visit vcu-cmh.org for more information on services.

Happy National Women’s Health Week and thanks to all women for everything you do!

Virginia universities reckon with Confederate symbols

By Katharine DeRosa, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia universities in the former heart of the Confederacy are reckoning with their past as students, faculty and staff call for the removal of Confederate symbols.

Richmond housed the capital of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865. Over 150 years later, remnants of the commonwealth’s Confederate history remain, including in academia.

At least 71 symbols of the Confederacy were removed from public spaces in Virginia last year, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. That includes multiple renamings of public schools. Only one symbol was removed prior to the murder of George Floyd. 

Gov. Ralph Northam sent a letter to school board chairs in the commonwealth last July, urging public officials to change names and mascots that memorialized Confederate leaders.

“When our public schools are named after individuals who advanced slavery and systemic racism, and we allow those names to remain on school property, we tacitly endorse their values as our own,” Northam stated. “This is no longer acceptable.”

Several months later, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville removed the name of Confederate soldier Henry Malcolm Withers from a law school building. 

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg approved the renaming of Trinkle and Maury halls. Trinkle Hall was named for former Virginia Gov. Elbert Lee Trinkle who signed Jim Crow legislation, according to the college’s board. Maury Hall was named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, who resigned his post as a U.S. Navy commander to join the Confederacy and helped it acquire ships.

The Virginia Military Institute in Lexington paid over $200,000 to remove a statue of Stonewall Jackson and relocate it to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

University of Richmond

Anthony Lawrence, an accounting major at the University of Richmond, is president of the Richmond College Student Government Association. He established a space for multicultural students in the student commons his freshman year and is currently working to remove Confederate symbols on campus.

The university has two campus buildings named for men associated with slavery and segregation. 

Ryland Hall is named for slave owner Robert Ryland, the first president of Richmond College, the University of Richmond’s predecessor. Ryland also served as a pastor to the first African Baptist church in Richmond, according to the university. He called slavery a “divine right” and routinely enslaved and loaned slaves to others during his time as president, according to university researchers.

Mitchell-Freeman Hall was first named for Douglas Southall Freeman, who graduated from the university and served on the board of trustees. The university updated the name of Mitchell-Freeman Hall on Feb. 24 to honor former Richmond Planet Editor John Mitchell Jr. who was Black. Freeman was a journalist who advocated for segregation through “the Virginia Way” which suggests the elite have a duty to guide others, according to UR researchers

“If they want to have the historical impact that they say they do, there can be more, much more, done than a name on a building to tell the historical story,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence suggested plaques that explain the buildings’ history to inform students without honoring Confederate leaders. The university also could require a course to teach about the history of the university and associated officials. There is currently no explanation for the building names on campus, Lawrence said.

“There’s nothing that's really stopping them from changing the name except for their own, I guess, stubbornness,” Lawrence said.

The Black Lives Matter movement helped people examine the names and roles of campus buildings, Lawrence said.

“It can come to a head now because of the wonderful activism that we've seen in these past couple of years,” Lawrence said. “This past summer has really been an example of what can happen when we see change.” 

Students formed The Black Student Coalition in March to advocate for the wellbeing of Black students.

“Now it's impossible for the administration; it's impossible for the board of trustees to silence us because we're so strong, and because we have this coalition, and because we have each other,” Lawrence said.

Six percent of Richmond students identify as Black, according to the university. This makes Lawrence a minority student leader on campus.

“It's exhausting but the work is rewarding in a way that I don't think I ever would have known,” Lawrence said. 

Virginia Commonwealth University

The board of visitors at Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University voted in September to remove Confederate symbols from campus. The decision came after more than three years of review. 

More than a dozen dedicated spaces, memorials and plaques will be removed from both campuses, according to the university. The decision includes de-commemorating buildings with Confederate affiliation, such as the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chapel. Davis was the president of the Confederacy. 

“The committee’s analysis revealed a more complete story of the meaning behind these memorials and commemorations that we can neither ignore nor celebrate and that impede our mission to serve all,” stated VCU President Michael Rao. 

Washington & Lee

Washington & Lee University in Lexington is named for former U.S. President George Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Lee was president of the college for five years and the name was changed to Washington & Lee upon his death in 1870. Lee is buried on the campus. 

Students walked out of the university in late March to support dropping Lee’s name, according to WVTF. The board of trustees began soliciting input in July 2020 on the university’s name and Confederate symbols. The board will issue a final decision on the name in June, according to a statement by Rector Mike McAlevey.

Some professors also favor changing W&L’s name, including Mohamed Kamara, an associate professor of French and Africana studies. Kamara has been teaching at W&L since 2001 and was a founding member of the Africana Studies Program.

Kamara was drawn to the university because of the physical environment and academic freedom the administration offered him. 

“I am here because I love Washington & Lee, so that same love that I had for it when I first came here, I still have it,” Kamara said.

Kamara supports the student protests because of the effectiveness of protests in American history. He said the American Revolution was a protest of sorts where American colonists resorted to violence against Great Britain. 

“Most of what has been achieved in terms of positive development have been done through protests,” Kamara said.

Changing the name of the university would harm no one, Kamara said. It would save Black students the trauma of dealing with the institution of slavery when they come across the university’s name.

“It brings that memory that is not pleasant at all,” Kamara said.

Black people still feel the aftereffects of slavery even though it ended in the U.S. over 156 years ago, Kamara said. 

“For those of us who are members of the Black race, we will back Washington for what he did for the university and Robert E. Lee for whatever he did for the university,” Kamara said. “But at the same time, we cannot ignore that component of the history that subjugated people like us.” 

Washington and Lee were both slave owners, though Lee’s name is often the one brought up during renaming discussions, Kamara said. 

“I believe that issue is going to come up,” Kamara said. “There was a time when nobody talked about removing Lee’s name.”

Kamara is fine with removing only Lee’s name, but he believes changing the whole name is an opportunity for the university to take an extra step.

“It may make sense, as a sign of goodwill, as a sign of good faith to be ahead of our times,” Kamara said.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Virginia Voters Identify as Moderate, Despite Supporting Democrat Policies

By Cameron Jones, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia voters in a recent poll ranked themselves as moderate, with a slightly conservative lean, but indicated support of more progressive legislation. 

The poll, released last week by Christopher Newport’s Wason Center for Civic Leadership, could be a thermometer for the upcoming November election. 

Virginia voters ranked themselves an average of 5.83 on a zero to 10 scale (liberal to conservative). Republicans ranked themselves 8.11 on average, while Democrats rated themselves 3.57 on average. Independents ranked themselves 5.72.

“In this upcoming election, it is especially possible that it could be competitive,” said Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, research director at the Wason Center. 

Those surveyed support Democrat proposals on health care, immigration, environmental policy and the economy. The policy proposal with the strongest support was Medicare for all with 76% support among voters. A majority of Virginians support providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (73%). Almost all Virginians support a pathway to citizenship for children brought to this country illegally by their parents (94%).

Over half of Virginians agree with implementing an environmentally friendly redesign of the state’s economy and infrastructure (65%); that the economic system favors the wealthy (61%); and that the federal minimum wage should be $15 per hour (53%).

Bromley-Trujillo believes this data indicates American culture aligns with idealism, liberty or other values often associated with conservatism. Strong support for Democratic public policy is why the commonwealth is still trending blue, even though upcoming races could still be competitive, she said.

“Virginia voters regard Republicans as more conservative than they regard Democrats as more liberal,” Bromley-Trujillo stated. “The question is, ‘where’s the sweet spot in this election?’”

Democrats have been successful in the state because of policy ideas such as the $15 dollar minimum wage, providing health care and child care for all Virginians, said Alexsis Rodgers, director for Care in Action, a nonprofit advocacy group for domestic workers.

“These aren’t partisan issues for voters,” Rodgers said. “They are ideas and policies that would actually make their lives better.”

While there is voter support for progressive policy, big elections in the commonwealth have seen progressive losses to more centrist candidates. Nearly half of Democratic voters back former Gov. Terry McAuliffe at 47%, with no other candidates breaking double digits, according to an April Wason Center poll. More than a quarter of surveyed voters were undecided.

President Joe Biden defeated independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders 53% to 23% in the Virginia Democratic primary. In a somewhat closer local race, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney defeated Rodgers by over 10% last November. Rodgers said that while these elections were a loss for progressive candidates, the movement is still winning by having their policy ideas adopted and passed in Virginia. 

Richmond For All is a political advocacy group for progressive policy. The organization has organized around local elections, education, housing justice and in opposition to a public subsidy for a Richmond-based sports arena. 

“In the U.S, we are still living in this Reagan-era paradigm where progressivism is still seen as harmful, and big government programs are abstractly negative,” said Quinton Robbins, political director at Richmond For All. 

Robbins said that it does not matter how Virginians ideologically identify themselves. He said it does matter how progressives present ideas to everyday citizens. 

Ballot counting is currently underway in the Republican convention for the party’s top executive nominees. The commonwealth has not had a Republican governor since Bob McDonnell was elected in 2009. 

As of Monday, only the Republican attorney general candidate had been determined. Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, eked out a victory over Chuck Smith, former chairman of the Virginia Beach GOP and a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump. The ranked choice voting went three rounds. Smith’s strong showing could indicate support for more ideologically conservative candidates such as Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Midlothian, who is seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination and describes herself as “Trump in heels.” Round one of counting shows Chase in a lead over Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, but behind candidates and businessmen Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder.

“Certainly, the opportunity exists for Republicans to make gains in the Virginia House, and differential partisan turnouts would be one of the reasons Republicans regain majority control, if that happens,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor and director at the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. 

Farnsworth also questioned if Democratic voters will turn out with the same energy as when Trump was president.

"We will find out later this year whether the Republicans in the suburbs are able to win back some of the ground lost during the Trump years,” he said.

Early voting is now underway for the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general Democratic primary elections on June 8. Republican and Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates are also on the ballot. 

 

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

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