Arlington, VA

There are 234 students in Arlington Public Schools who have been granted an exemption from the state’s vaccine requirements for schools, according to APS officials.

The number of unvaccinated students is less than one percent (0.85%) of the total 27,521 students enrolled as of June of 2019. However, these numbers have proportionally doubled since 2015.

“We would need more time to investigate this thoroughly, however I believe it’s best attributed to the increase in student enrollment and how we’re capturing the data,” said Catherine Ashby, the Director of Communications for APS, in an email to ARLnow.

According to Virginia law, a family can request their child skip mandated vaccinations for valid medical or religious reasons.

“We are constantly communicating with APS so they can communicate with families,” said School Health Bureau (SHB) Chief Sarah N. Bell in a press release for the new school year. “What we don’t want is for any child to be excluded on the first day of school.”

The bureau collaborated with APS officials to check whether students are up to date on their vaccinations by the start of the school year.

This school year, Ashby said APS had 100% compliance for TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccines by the first day of school among the families who did not request an exemption. This is an improvement from the group of around 30 students who did not have their TDAP vaccinations up to date by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

Debates around childhood vaccination exemptions came into the spotlight this year due to the onslaught of measles outbreaks. From January to September 5 the CDC confirmed 1,241 individual cases of measles, a disease once considered eradicated, across 31 states.

A July investigation from ABC 7 revealed 8,000 students who live and go to school in D.C. — whether public, private, charter, or parochial — do not meet proper vaccination requirements.

In Maryland, the rate of unvaccinated kindergarteners has nearly doubled over the last decade.

Currently there are four states which do not permit religious exemptions for vaccinations: New York, California, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Maine will remove the exemption in 2021.

File photo

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At Capital Women’s Care Division 67 we are proud to have an innovative and dynamic collaborative practice featuring three Obstetrician-Gynecologists (OB-GYNs) and a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).

Our providers offer top of the line care for all your obstetrical and gynecological needs. With our state of the art Mona Lisa Touch laser system, we can help you feel like yourself again. If you are looking for contraceptive counseling, preconception counseling or pregnancy care needs you’ll be happy to be part of a small, private practice where you aren’t just a number.

Our healthcare providers boast over 44 years of experience. We are experts in PCOS management, minimally invasive hysteroscopic and laparoscopic surgeries for a variety of complex gynecologic needs and high-risk pregnancies.

With your first phone call for an appointment, to our warm and welcoming front desk staff, brilliant administrative team and board certified healthcare professionals we nurture the spirit of caring for every woman. We are now proud to offer 3D ultrasonography, with a keepsake take home DVD.

We are conveniently located in the heart of downtown Arlington, walking distance from both the Ballston and Virginia Square Metro Stations. We have appointment availability with all four of our healthcare providers and even offer early morning appointments for your convenience.

From puberty through menopause and beyond we would be honored to walk on this healthcare journey with you. Please call to make an appointment today at 571-970-6050 or schedule a visit quickly and easily online: https://www.capitalwomenscareobgyn67.com/.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Privia Health, a Ballston-based physician organization, announced last week its partnership with Health First, the first health system to join the organization.

Privia Health was officially established in 2007 as a partnership with independent physicians, but following the restructuring of the U.S. healthcare system over the last decade, the organization transitioned into the Privia Medical Group. The new focus for the organization was to help independent physicians succeed in “value-based care.” The organization’s first location opened in January 2014.

The organization now works as the management system for independent physicians, helping them manage patient health and improve care coordination. The organization coordinates health plans, health systems and employers with care provided by independent physicians.

Health First is a not-for-profit community healthcare system in Brevard County, Florida. The organization is locally owned and in 2017 provided $159 million in community support.

“Privia unites innovative leaders whose growth strategies embrace our evolving healthcare landscape,” said Shawn Morris, CEO, Privia Health, in a press release. “This unique partnership with such a progressive health system expands Privia into Florida’s growing market. We will work together with Health First and local physicians to continue improving upon the exceptional care that is delivered throughout the region while transforming the healthcare delivery experience.”

According to Amanda Wells, a spokesperson for Privia Health, with the new partnership with Health First, the organization has a presence in five markets across the United States. Wells said the ongoing goal as the organization grows is to find new methods of providing easier access to healthcare providers while reducing the administrative burden.

Wells said the Privia Health’s headquarters in Ballston gives the organization access to both medical authorities and lawmakers.

“In Arlington we have the privilege of hiring and working with some of the country’s top physicians and business professionals, creating a workforce full of employees who are incredibly talented and motivated,” said Wells. “In addition, its proximity to Washington. D.C. and policymakers are key to making sure our business is on top of the latest development in healthcare policy. We are very proud to be a part of the Arlington community, and we look forward to evolving along with the community we reside in.”

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Another Food Hall Coming to Rosslyn — “Two local hospitality ventures have already announced plans for food halls in Rosslyn, and now a third food hall-type venue is being floated for the Arlington neighborhood. Even weirder? All three are on the same block of North Moore Street, the street where the Rosslyn Metro station is located.” [Washington Business Journal]

HQ2 Boosting Real Estate Market — “Real-estate professionals from across the local area already are seeing spring-level interest among prospective buyers, raising hopes for a solid start to the year. ‘The Amazon HQ2 announcement, plus favorable interest rates and a relatively mild winter, have all contributed to bringing the buyers out early this year,’ Northern Virginia Association of Realtors president Christine Richardson said.” [InsideNova]

Local Healthcare Firm Makes Acquisition — “Arlington-based Advantia Health LLC has acquired Illinois-based OB-GYN practice Heartland Women’s Healthcare in a deal that nearly doubled the local group’s size overnight.” [Washington Business Journal]

‘Coffee with a Cop’ Next Week — “The Arlington County Police Department, in partnership with the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is hosting its next Coffee with a Cop event on February 26, providing the public with an opportunity to meet and interact with the department’s Community Outreach Teams.” [Arlington County]

More Ballston Road Closures Planned — Additional road closures are planned along Wilson Blvd near the mall this weekend for continued work on the new Ballston pedestrian bridge. [Twitter]

‘Tree Action Group’ No Fan of Bike Trails — The Arlington Tree Action Group, a vocal local activist organization that often speaks out against plans to cut down trees, is apparently no big fan of bike trails. In response to a photo of a dog in front of the Eden Center after Wednesday’s snow, the group wrote on Twitter: “To [sic] bad the County doesn’t care how icy the sidewalks are as long as the bike trails and the other trendy County thoroughfares are clear.” The Eden Center, however, is in the City of Falls Church. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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New research suggests that people living in Arlington’s poorest neighborhoods also have the fewest opportunities to lead healthy lives when compared to other communities throughout the entire D.C. region.

A study commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University show that many of Arlington’s most diverse neighborhoods with the lowest median incomes, such Columbia Heights, Nauck, Douglas Park and Buckingham, also scored the lowest in their measure of “health opportunities” across metropolitan Washington. The results closely mirror a previous study’s findings that people living in many of the same neighborhoods lack economic opportunities as well.

The researchers developed a “Healthy Places Index,” known as HPI, to evaluate not only health outcomes (like life expectancy) in each community, but also to understand whether people have the opportunity to be healthy based on where they live. That includes evaluations of factors like air quality, access to healthcare, housing affordability, the availability of public transportation and education levels.

The study applies that index to neighborhoods across the D.C. area, examining communities using granular Census tract designations to detect patterns within counties and cities in the region. Though the group found that the overall health of the 4.5 million people living in the District and its suburbs is “excellent” and “well above the national average,” they also uncovered “islands of disadvantage” within even wealthy localities like Arlington.

Even though some of the more affluent, higher educated areas of the county rate quite highly in the study’s measure of health opportunities, others rank among the lowest in all of Northern Virginia. The researchers identified the Columbia Heights neighborhood, just off Columbia Pike, as having one of the “the lowest HPI scores in the region,” noting that about 23 percent of adult residents there live in poverty. Buckingham, located along Route 50, also posted poor HPI scores, and the study noted that its residents have a median income of about $38,125 annually.

“The researchers found stark contrasts in socioeconomic and environmental conditions in Northern Virginia, often between neighborhoods separated by only a few miles or blocks,” the VCU academics wrote. “As was observed elsewhere in the region, people of color were disproportionately exposed to adverse living conditions.”

To illustrate those points, the study compared McLean — one of the wealthiest and whitest communities in the area — to Columbia Heights. The former ranked among the top-scoring neighborhoods in the region on the HPI, a far cry from Columbia Heights’ own performance.

“The population in the McLean tract was predominately white (70 percent) and Asian (19 percent), the population in Columbia Heights was largely Hispanic (51 percent) and black (19 percent),” the researchers wrote. “More than half was foreign-born, and most immigrated during 2000-2009.”

While the researchers identify a whole host of factors that could be contributing to such a split, they also stress that it is impossible to ignore the impact of “institutional racism” in understanding why such a divide exists between the races when it comes to health opportunities. They note that discriminatory housing and economic policies mean that people of color are “more likely to live in racially and ethnically segregated neighborhoods that suffer from decades of disinvestment,” which can have a whole host of negative consequences for their health.

“As a result, neighborhoods of color often lack access to affordable high-quality housing, stores that sell healthy foods, green space, clean air and clean water,” the researchers wrote. “These communities are often targets for fast food outlets, tobacco and alcohol marketing and liquor stores. These conditions affect not only the health, economic opportunity, and social mobility of people of color, but they also weaken the health and economy of the entire region.”

Accordingly, the study recommends approaches recognizing that history to officials sitting on the Council of Governments, as they try to craft a response across the region.

“Real solutions require targeted investments in marginalized neighborhoods to improve access to affordable, healthy housing as well as affordable transportation, child care, and health care (e.g., primary care, dental care, behavioral health services),” they wrote. “Everyone benefits from this approach, not only the residents in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, but also the entire regional economy. Economic and racial inequity saps the strength of the economy. Everyone pays a price for inaction: persistent poverty and social isolation fuel discontent, unhealthy behaviors (e.g., drug addiction), crime, and violence.”

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Fresh off the high of securing expanded Medicaid coverage for thousands of Arlingtonians, advocates and healthcare professionals have a new challenge to confront: how to reach people newly eligible for health insurance, when they might have no idea about the change.

That’s a big part of why state officials and Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) convened a meeting of more than 100 people Friday (Oct. 26) at the offices of Arlington’s Department of Human Services, offering strategies for just how they can help ensure that everyone who now qualifies for Medicaid gets covered when enrollment starts Thursday (Nov. 1).

The program’s expansion, the result of a years-long battle in the General Assembly that culminated in a compromise signed by Gov. Ralph Northam this spring, will allow low-income adults without any children to access health coverage through Medicaid for the first time ever in Virginia.

It also bumps up the income caps for families and people with disabilities, meaning that roughly 400,000 people are now eligible for the program across the state. And in Arlington alone, roughly 7,000 people could join the Medicaid rolls, according to Anita Freeman, the county’s director of human services.

“It’s a really gratifying day that we’re at this point, talking about enrolling thousands of people to get healthcare who didn’t have it before,” Hope told the crowd. “It’s a long day in coming.”

The expansion is indeed a development welcomed with jubilation by Democrats, and even some moderate Republicans, but it won’t come without complications. Not only will the process of enrolling more people in Medicaid cost localities a bit more money, but state and local officials alike have to work to make people aware they actually stand to benefit from a program that’s long shut them out.

“We’re undertaking the largest expansion of health coverage in Virginia history,” said Dr. Jennifer Lee, the director of the state’s Department of Medical Assistance Services. “We’re all super excited about it, but there is a lot of change too.”

Over the course of the meeting, Lee outlined a variety of ways that her department, which manages Medicaid in the state, plans to start reaching people about their new eligibility. That includes work with Community Service Boards, organizations in each Virginia locality focused largely on overseeing mental health and substance abuse services, and even local and regional jails.

As Lee points out, many people who are currently incarcerated have their healthcare needs covered by the state, but could be shifted to Medicaid under the new rules. And for people looking to re-enter their communities, particularly after being convicted on drug charges, she wants to connect them to Medicaid to get them the tools they need to confront their substance abuse issues.

“We want to get them in to recovery, so that they aren’t constantly cycling in and out of the system due to their addiction,” Lee said.

State officials will also launch a series of mailers to people receiving other government benefits, like food stamps, who may be able to easily enroll in Medicaid coverage by providing a few more details to officials.

But Lee also implored attendees, many of whom came from nonprofits and other groups working with low-income people around the county, to help become “spokespeople” about the new Medicaid realities in their own neighborhoods. She’s particularly interested in finding people who can reach non-English speakers, as they might have the hardest time understanding the maze of new rules governing the program.

“The best message for folks is that the rules have changed in Virginia Medicaid,” Lee said. “If they’ve applied before, they should try again.”

Complicating matters further for Lee and her fellow healthcare advocates is that the rules surrounding the Medicaid expansion will change sometime in the future. That’s because the program will eventually require enrollees to prove that they’re employed, in school or pursuing a job in order to receive coverage, a stipulation insisted on by some state Republicans initially hesitant to back Medicaid expansion.

Yet Lee explained that the state will need to get federal approval before putting those requirements in place. She said her department will submit an application to kick off the process as soon as this week, but there’s no telling when the state will earn the green light.

“It could be next week, six months or two years,” Lee told ARLnow in an interview after the meeting. “And then there will be some ramp-up time once we get the approval, because these are complicated new rules we’ll have to put in place.”

Some Republicans have grumbled that Northam’s administration is taking too long to implement the new work requirements, and that they’ll likely contain too many “loopholes” to help people avoid working — applicants who can prove they have an illness or condition that prevents them from holding a job will be able to earn exemptions from the requirements.

But Lee believes the state’s work requirements are “right in line” with other recently adopted standards, like those in Kentucky and Indiana. She also vigorously disputes any implication that the state is dragging its feet in setting up the new requirements, noting that it’s pressing for federal approval just as quickly as it can.

“Indiana planned for years to put theirs in place,” Lee said. “When you look at other states, we’re actually pursuing an extremely aggressive timeline here.”

Yet, beyond all the complications and the political squabbling, Lee worked to stress just how valuable the Medicaid expansion will be for vulnerable Virginians.

She once worked as a physician in the emergency room at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, and told a story of encountering a woman who suffered an acute stroke and wasn’t able to walk, but initially declined to be admitted to the hospital because she was uninsured and feared she couldn’t afford treatment.

“She told us, ‘I can’t be admitted because I have to go to work tomorrow,” Lee said. “So don’t forget, this is real. This is for our friends, our family, who desperately need access to care, and can’t get it.”

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Morning Notes

Marine Corps Marathon Recap — A D.C. man and a Costa Rican woman were the winners of the 43rd annual Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. Meanwhile, the last “Groundpounder,” who had run every Marine Corps Marathon since its inception in 1976, announced his retirement on Saturday after deciding to withdraw from this year’s race. [RunWashington, Stars and Stripes, WTOP]

Arlington Gets Addiction Treatment Grant — “Arlington County has been awarded $250,000 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to help people with substance use disorders. The grant is part of the insurer’s nearly $2.1-million investment in community health organizations working to combat substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders.” [Arlington County]

Parking Concerns For Nauck Pool — “Nauck Civic Association president Portia Clark, whose organization supports” a planned pool in Nauck, “pressed county officials to make sure the neighborhood had a say on issues related to its development, including operating hours and parking. ‘Our community has some parking challenges,’ Clark said. ‘The community should be involved.'” [InsideNova]

‘Signs of Fatigue’ For Real Estate Market — “There was a pronounced drop in the number of homes for sale in Northern Virginia in September, and prices may be showing signs of topping out… The number of sales across the Northern Virginia region almost universally fell in September, with sales in Arlington County down 12 percent from a year ago.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photos by Eric and Kevin Wolf

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Del. Patrick Hope (D) will be hosting a town hall helping Arlingtonians understand Virginia’s new Medicaid expansion this On Friday, Oct. 26.

Hope is expected be joined at the town hall by Dr. Jennifer Lee, director of the Department of Medical Assistance Services, who will help explain who qualifies under the new regulations.

Many Virginians currently ineligible for Medicaid may be qualified under the new expansion. Childless adults were previously ineligible for Medicaid in Virginia, but those with an annual income at or below $16,754 may be eligible under the new regulations.

Eligibility for parents has been raised from those with an income at or below $6,900 to $28,677. Eligibility for people with disabilities has been raised from those earning $9,700 or below to $16,754.

An eligibility screening tool is available online to help Virginians discover if they can be covered by the new Medicaid expansion.

Applications to the state’s expanded Medicaid program can be filed beginning Nov. 2.

The meeting is scheduled for 2-4 p.m in the lower level auditorium of the Arlington County Department of Human Services (2100 Washington Blvd).

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Morning Notes

WeWork Coming to Rosslyn — Another coworking space is coming to Rosslyn. WeWork is reportedly coming to three floors near the top of the new CEB Tower. [Washington Business Journal]

Board Passes Four Mile Run Plan — Despite some dissatisfaction among those who live in a nearby community, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to adopt as-is the proposed Four Mile Run Valley Park Master Plan and Design Guidelines, which includes “a comprehensive Master Plan for Jennie Dean Park and Shirlington Park, with short and mid-term recommendations for maintaining and improving Shirlington Dog Park.” [Arlington County]

Memorial Bridge Closure Rescheduled — Due to high river levels, work on and the closure of the Arlington Memorial Bridge has been rescheduled to this coming weekend. [Twitter, National Park Service]

Salt Storage Structure Approved — “The Arlington County Board today voted to allow the County to build an interim salt storage structure before winter sets in, on County-owned property on Old Dominion Drive, between 25th Road N. and 26th Street N.” [Arlington County]

Scooter Injury in Crystal City — A woman on a motorized scooter reportedly suffered a dislocated elbow after she accidentally ran into a wall in the Crystal City area Friday evening. The safety of the electric rental scooters has been questioned both locally and nationally. [Twitter]

Coming ‘Flood’ of Medicaid Applicants — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to accept state funding that will help pay for additional staff needed to process an expected flood of new applications for Medicaid under the state’s expanded program, Cover Virginia… ‘Under the expanded program, we expect 3,000 more County residents will qualify. Childless low-income adults with no disabilities, a group previously excluded, and families and persons with disabilities whose income previously was not considered to be low enough to qualify will now be eligible for coverage.'” [Arlington County]

Packer Drops By Clarendon Day — Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, in town for Sunday’s game against the Redskins — the local team ended up upsetting the visitors 31-17 — dropped by Clarendon Day on Saturday. He also posed for a photo with Arlington County police. [Twitter]

APS Wires 40 Schools for Fiber Connection — “Arlington Public Schools (APS) is kicking off the 2018-19 school year with a brand-new connection–ConnectArlington. Thanks to a yearlong collaboration, 40 Arlington school facilities are now up and running on the County’s own fiber optic network. APS made the switch from a commercial provider to take advantage of ConnectArlington’s high-speed, dedicated network for digital telecommunications and broadband services.” [Arlington County]

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Arlington officials expect as many as 3,000 more people will be able to earn health insurance through the Medicaid expansion passed by state lawmakers this year — and now the county needs new staffers to sort through the paperwork.

The County Board could soon accept just over $277,000 in state funds to hire six new workers to process Medicaid eligibility applications, anticipating that Arlington will see up to 7,000 requests for coverage through the program when changes officially take effect next year.

The General Assembly approved the expansion this spring, after Democrats’ sweeping gains in the legislature set the stage for a compromise on an issue that had long roiled state politics. Now, Arlington and other localities around the state are preparing for an influx of applications from low-income and disabled workers looking to earn healthcare coverage under the program for the first time.

Starting Jan. 1, 2019, Medicaid benefits will be available for childless, able-bodied adults for the first time, so long as they earn no more than $16,754 a year. The income cap will be raised to the same level for adults with disabilities, up from $9,700 a year, while income limits will also be bumped up for families with anywhere from three to eight children.

Under those new standards, county officials project at least 2,904 additional people in Arlington will be eligible for the program, and staff fully expects that evaluating the incoming flow of applications will overwhelm county workers.

While income is one measure Medicaid officials will examine in determining if someone is eligible for benefits, the program will also require many recipients to hold down a job — Republicans insisted on including the work requirements as a condition for approving the plan, though it will likely entail complex reporting requirements.

Accordingly, hiring six new staffers would help the county better distribute work among its employees and “contribute to reducing the error rate and processing time for application and recertification processing,” staff wrote in a report prepared for the Board.

In all, the county expects to spend about $527,000 annually to afford those staffers moving forward, with the state covering just over half that amount. Staff are hoping to pay for the remaining $249,000 or so with its own money, then evaluate in future budget years if the county needs to maintain those positions.

The Board is set to sign off on the new hires at its meeting Saturday (Sept. 22).

Photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

County Board Lauds Medicaid Expansion — “We applaud the General Assembly for taking this critical step,” Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said in a county press release. “We are especially thrilled that some 7,000 Arlingtonians now will have healthcare coverage — this legislative action will improve outcomes for their health and welfare, strengthen our workforce, and help our community and the Commonwealth.” [Arlington County]

Local Man Charged With Punching Horse in Dewey — A 23-year-old Arlington man has been charged with striking a Delaware State Police horse during a late night brawl in Dewey Beach, Del. over Memorial Day weekend. The horse was uninjured. [Cape Gazette]

Meet Some of the Women of Public Safety in Arlington — “Women in Arlington County’s public safety agencies and departments take on a diverse array of roles, all of which will be on display at the second annual Women in Public Safety Outreach Event” this weekend. [Arlington County]

Nearby: Falls Church Releases Footage of Groping Suspect — Falls Church Police have released video surveillance footage of a man they said groped a woman after she walked into a business on the 700 block of W. Broad Street. [City of Falls Church, YouTube]

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