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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.

There are two “waves” one Arlington analytics company is riding: the health care industry’s inefficient use of data and the need for the U.S. to get a handle on health care costs.

Virginia Square-based CareJourney was founded in 2014 and uses data analytics to help organizations understand their customers and efficiently grow as the industry focuses more on keeping people healthy rather than just treating ailments.

CareJourney started as a service advisory business, so it was providing management consulting to the first few customers, CEO Dan Ross said.

“Pretty soon we figured out that we were sending some of the same things to each customer and so it was kind of a hint that we were on to something that could be repeatable software,” he said. “And so one of the first things we did, you know, in about three, two years in, was to start to pivot into a software business.”

The CareJourney team (courtesy of CareJourney)

CareJourney has about 120 customers, including health care organizations and providers. Ross said the company’s growth has been fast, adding about 10 to 15 customers every quarter since it began focusing on software in 2017.

And last year, CareJourney began partnering with other companies as well. It recently announced a new partnership with Credo Health, which automates digital medical record retrieval. The partnership allows clients to grow more efficiently and manage care for an increasing number of patients.

“When you put the two pieces of technology together, in our case, our data with their software, it just allows their end customers to do more than they would have been able to do just with the Credo software,” Ross said.

CareJourney has about five partners similarly incorporating the CareJourney data into their services.

Ross attributes the company’s success to its hyper-focus on solving customers’ problems, and its hiring, developing and coaching employees, as well as building a good culture. He said it has about 100 full-time employees, mostly in the D.C. area.

When CareJourney was started, its founders — Ross, Aneesh Chopra and Sanju Bansal — lived locally and had already started other businesses in the area, so Arlington was a natural choice to locate the new company.

“We expected to be hiring a lot of tech-oriented people… Arlington is like one of the hotbeds locally of places to start and have a tech business,” Ross said. “So it’s kind of an easy choice, nearby and sensible.”

Ross said to start a high growth business, a company needs to be in an important and large space and “riding some waves.”

“The adoption of analytics, technology in health care, and also this like screaming need for more efficiency are two big waves that we ride,” he said.

As the health care industry increasingly transitions to focus on incentivizing health systems to keep people healthy — called value-based care — versus treating them for illness and ailments, the need for data analytics is also growing.

“The whole point of value-based care is not to pay for when someone’s sick, whatever that is, but instead to flip the incentives around and incent the health care delivery system to take care of patients, whether or not they are sick,” Ross said.

One example is when using CareJourney’s data, one of its clients noticed a high number of hospital admissions over a month or two stemming from a similar condition.

“And so using our data, they were able to go back and look and say ‘oh, well, people who hadn’t seen a urologist — as this is in the senior population — had this, like, unusually high rate of hospital admissions from UTIs,'” Ross said.

So the client implemented a urologist screening, and the data showed that it prevented hospital admissions.

“When you keep somebody out of the hospital, that’s just a huge win in health care,” Ross said. “That’s probably the number one thing we can do, is just, in general, keep people out of the hospital.”

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Sign outside of Virginia Hospital Center (photo courtesy Adam Dunham)

A pair of bills proposed by an Arlington lawmaker in the General Assembly could help bolster the ranks of health care workers and teachers stretched thin during the pandemic.

The bills introduced by state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) expedite the licensure process in both industries, allowing workers with licenses in other states to begin work upon being hired. The bills passed the Virginia Senate uncontested and will be considered in the House after the crossover deadline on Feb. 15.

Health care and education industries have dealt with staffing shortages during the pandemic as Covid patients filled hospital beds and teachers have dealt with cases in schools.

If Senate Bill 317 becomes law, hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis facilities would be able to hire workers who have licenses in other states as they await a Virginia license.

“Our facilities right now are having a very hard time staffing up, it is a quality of care issue when you don’t have enough nurses on your floor, our patients are not getting the attention they need,” Favola said to the Education and Health Subcommittee on Health Professions.

Similarly, Senate Bill 68 would allow teachers who are licensed to teach outside the United States to begin working under a provisional license for up to three years. The Department of Education would review the application and the individual could then start in classrooms, Favola told the Education and Health Subcommittee on Education.

“This is an effort to enable those who really have the ability and the interest and the talent to teach in an area that we right now are suffering incredible shortages,” she said. “Our school systems are struggling to keep teachers.”

Several educational associations spoke in favor of the bill, as well as someone who worked with refugee resettlement.

“We did have some concerns in the beginning but [Favola] addressed all those concerns, specifically with verifying those credentials… so we are in support of it,” said Shane Riddle, with the Virginia Education Association.

Favola confirmed there would be confirmation of licensure before they would be hired.

Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, chair of the subcommittee, said she hopes SB 68 will be a step toward addressing the shortage but also “be able to take professionals who come in with the skills and the knowledge, the credentials and be able to participate readily within our own school system.”

The health care licensure bill would put into state law what existed under emergency orders former Gov. Ralph Northam put in place last year. Gov. Glenn Youngkin has since also issued an emergency order, set to expire Feb. 21, that also allows a health care practitioner with a license and in good standing in another state to practice in Virginia.

Under the bill, the health care worker would work on a provisional license and within 90 days the Bureau of Health Professions would issue a Virginia license, Favola said. If the license is not issued within 90 days, there can be an extension of 60 days.

It would also allow for professionals practicing in states surrounding Virginia to get expedited requests for state licensure if their state enters a reciprocal agreement. The bill would take effect as soon as it becomes law.

Hospitals are in a staffing crisis and it isn’t going away anytime soon, said R. Brent Rawlings, Senior Vice President of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, in testimony before the subcommittee.

“We’ve had people leave the workforce and we need to have every tool in our toolbox to try to get folks at the bedside as quickly as possible and this would allow that to happen,” he said.

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Arlington County is negotiating a contract with a new medical care provider for the county jail — its most recent move in the wake of a series of inmate deaths.

The decision, announced yesterday (Monday), comes the same month that a man, who appears to be connected to the current provider, appeared in Arlington County General District Court on charges related to the police investigation into the in-custody death of Darryl Becton last year.

Also this month, a man named Clyde Spencer became the sixth reported in-custody death in six years.

The effort to find a new medical provider will cut short Arlington’s contract with Corizon Correctional Health, which was renewed last year through 2025. Corizon will continue to provide services until the new provider is slated to take over, on Monday, Nov. 15. Because the negotiations are ongoing, the Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, couldn’t reveal the name of the proposed new provider.

The county says it made the decision “after careful consideration” to ensure the medical safety of inmates.

“The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing the highest level of medical services to those in our custody and I take each individuals care very seriously,” Sheriff Beth Arthur said in a statement. “How we care for those remanded to our custody is a priority. We are committed to having a vendor that provides the level of medical service that reflects the high expectations of not only myself, but the Arlington community.”

Corizon was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.

Corizon has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care. In Arlington, it appears that local officials are investigating whether the way Becton was cared for in jail played a role in his death. The state medical examiner’s office ruled his cause of death to be hypertensive cardiovascular disease — caused by sustained high blood pressure — complicated by opiate withdrawal.

Nearly one year after Becton’s death, the Commonwealth’s Attorney issued an arrest warrant for a man who was charged with falsifying a patient record, a misdemeanor.

Although the office couldn’t add further details about the man at the time, a D.C. resident by the same name lists his occupation as a licensed practical nurse and his employer as Corizon Health, according to a LinkedIn profile.

And if the man who was charged is indeed employed by Corizon, his case is the second in which a Corizon correctional nurse has been charged with a crime involving an inmate in Arlington.

Another nurse was charged in 2014 with misdemeanor sexual battery and found guilty in Arlington General District Court. In an appeal to the Circuit Court, the inmate and the nurse reached a deal that allowed the nurse to avoid a jail time, according to Maj. Susie Doyel, the then-spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

The Arlington branch of the NAACP, which called for an independent investigation into Becton’s death last year, issued a statement after the news of the new medical provider was released.

“Although the Sheriff’s Office is seeking a new medical contractor, the issue remains that there have been six in-custody deaths in six years, as reported by the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office,” President Julius “J.D.” Spain, Sr. said. “The Arlington Branch NAACP’s position remains firm in seeking justice for those who have died while in the custody of the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.”

“Ultimately, the Arlington County Sheriff, the Command Staff, and Sheriff’s Office personnel are responsible for the health, care, and safety of the individuals in their custody,” Spain’s statement continued. “The Arlington Branch NAACP will continue to seek justice to find all who are responsible, complicit, and or negligent in the deaths of those in-custody and hold them accountable.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Ballston-based Evolent Health is set to expand with a $130 million purchase of telehealth company Vital Decisions. The company expects the deal to close later this year.

One of Arlington’s largest growth companies, Evolent Health was founded in 2011 — just in time to help medical providers adjust to the changes prescribed by the Affordable Care Act. Ten years later, it is still developing solutions to address the rising costs of healthcare in the U.S.

And now, it is bringing on Vital Decisions to target the high healthcare costs borne by people with serious illnesses and their insurance providers. The New Jersey-based company uses digital services to help such individuals find advanced care throughout their health journey, especially as they approach the end of their lives.

“We believe Vital Decisions is a strong strategic fit for Evolent,” said Evolent Health Chief Executive Officer Seth Blackley in a release. “We believe this transaction… unlocks patient engagement and telehealth as levers for ensuring patients with complex illness receive high-quality, coordinated care.”

Evolent logo at its Ballston office (file photo)

Evolent first expanded into specialized care in September 2018 when it spent $217 million to acquire New Century Health Management, which helps both healthcare providers and insurance companies provide better treatment for cancer or heart conditions while saving money. Vital Decisions will report to New Century after the acquisition.

“This acquisition will help ensure that the care plans created by our Vital specialists find their way into the hands of the providers responsible for ensuring these individuals receive the care they want as their illness progresses. New Century Health has developed a robust provider engagement platform and it’s a privilege to combine capabilities,” Vital Decisions CEO Leah Puccio said.

New Century Health CEO Dan McCarthy said the addition will help ensure that individuals with advanced illnesses have care plans that align with their personal preferences for the kinds of treatment and end-of-life care.

Since its launch, Evolent Health — headquartered at 800 N. Glebe Road — has grown from a startup into a publicly-traded company. After just four years in business, it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange, where it raised $195 million on the first day of trading. Shortly after, its market valuation hit $1 billion.

The company’s stock price has more than quadrupled since the start of the pandemic. After hitting an all-time low of $4.81 in March 2020, it rebounded to around $24 today.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

In 2017, while a graduate student at Georgetown University, Shavini Fernando’s heart suddenly stopped beating.

“I was working, and my friend started to scream that my entire face was blue,” said Fernando, who now lives in Arlington. “It didn’t even take one minute. I couldn’t breathe and my heart stopped.” 

Fernando managed to revive herself by self-administering CPR before the oxygen supply to her brain cut out, but the incident frightened everyone around her. Fernando’s doctor at The Johns Hopkins Hospital suggested that it was no longer safe to live on her own.

But Fernando, who was unwilling to let the condition control her life, refused. Instead, she decided to develop a wearable device that continuously monitors her flow of oxygen with the help of her graduate school program director and fellow students. Whenever Fernando’s blood oxygen levels fell below a normal threshold, the ear-worn device sends an emergency alert to her doctor.

“I’m sort of a rebel. When people tell me ‘you can’t do this,’ I want to show them that I can,” Fernando said.

OxiWear founder Shavini Fernando (courtesy of Shavini Fernando)

She channeled that fighting spirit two years prior, when a cardiologist told Fernando — who was 33 at the time — that she had just two years left to live. She flew from her home country of Sri Lanka to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a second opinion and treatment. There, she received medicine and equipment to help manage severe pulmonary hypertension, a condition in which the heart has trouble pumping blood through the lungs. The condition leaves people vulnerable to sudden and undetected drops in oxygen, known as silent hypoxia.

This condition makes it dangerous to live in high altitudes, so rather than return home to Sri Lanka, she settled in the D.C. area to keep receiving medical treatment and start her master’s degree at Georgetown. That decision ultimately set her up to establish OxiWear so that she could share the product that she wears to survive with others.

“Most of the deaths happen in the pulmonary hypertension and cardiovascular patient community because they don’t get the help in time,” Fernando said. “If they have an alert and a way of calling for help, these deaths can be prevented.”

By the end of this year, Fernando and OxiWear plan to launch a product to be used by the public for fitness. A medical device for those with heart conditions will come later, once it gets approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Both devices connect to a smartphone to show users their oxygen levels and enable them to contact emergency services during sudden drops.

A prototype of a forthcoming device from OxiWear (courtesy of Shavini Fernando)

OxiWear is now closing in on $1 million in funding since its launch in the spring of 2019. Most recently, after securing patents in the U.S, China and Japan, the company received investments from CIT Gap Funds and Tie DC. Before that, Fernando obtained funding through her connections at Georgetown and a crowdfunding campaign.

“Currently, there is no other device available to continuously monitor oxygen levels. OxiWear is a game changer for those affected by the complications of pulmonary hypertension, and could be the difference between safety and danger,” Tom Weithman, Managing Director of CIT GAP Funds, said in a press release.

Fernando says that investors and potential consumers initially expressed doubt about the importance of the product. As COVID-19 raised awareness of the dangers of silent hypoxia, however, OxiWear gained traction.

“Because of COVID-19, fundraising became really slow. At the same time, a lot of people started contacting us, asking, ‘Is there a way we can purchase this device?’ I’m like ‘I wish I could get it out fast, but we don’t have enough money,'” Fernando said.

In the early stages of the company, as funding dried up, Fernando and her employees went months without pay. Still, the OxiWear founder carried on.

“Even if it kills me, I will get this done. That’s why, even without funds, we’ve managed to get so far in such little time,” said Fernando. “For me, this is not about making money. It’s about helping those like me. Once you get silent hypoxia, even if you are recovered, you will end up with life-long after effects.”

Fernando and her OxiWear employees work remotely. The company’s address is publicly listed as a condo in Rosslyn.

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Falls Church-based nonprofit Capital Caring Health will be temporarily closing its Arlington clinic, the Halquist Memorial Inpatient Center, after 40 years of operating.

The 15-bed Halquist Center at 4715 15th Street N., one street over from Virginia Hospital Center, provides hospice and palliative care and is run by professional clinicians and volunteers. The facility, known for its calm atmosphere and volunteer-maintained gardens, is one of many that Capital Caring Health operates in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

According to Steve Cone, a spokesman for the nonprofit, the center — which opened in 1982 in the former Woodlawn Elementary School — needs some upgrades. The nonprofit will be launching a capital campaign to raise $10 million for renovations and expects Halquist to reopen in late 2023, he said.

“The facility needs an extensive renovation so we can offer the surrounding community the same state of the art hospice care, such as private patient rooms, that is expected by families today and is available at our other inpatient centers across the region,” he said. “Planning is underway for the New Halquist which will be the very best facility of its kind anywhere when it reopens.”

A letter to staff and volunteers from CEO Tom Koutsoumpas, however, opened with the financial reasons that contributed to the decision to close Halquist, noting that the facility also needed renovations.

“What has happened here at Capital Caring Health is we have experienced increased expenses due to COVID protocols and related operational issues while at the same time experiencing Medicare repayment challenges and reduced patient referrals over a period of many months,” wrote Koutsoumpas in the letter, shared with ARLnow.

A volunteer explained that pre-pandemic, terminal patients would get referred to hospice care options if, after going to the hospital, they opted to live at home — with in-home hospice visits and later a stay at the center — rather than pursue treatment options. With the virus spreading, people visited doctors less, resulting in fewer referrals.

“There is a general concern that last year they weren’t getting care, so then doctors were not putting them in hospice,” the volunteer said.

And nearly 90% of the nonprofit’s revenue comes from insurance reimbursements, according to its most recent annual report. Charitable contributions, meanwhile, make up 6.6%.

The volunteer said she was confident the $10 million will get raised because Capital Caring, and Halquist specifically, has a very loyal donor and volunteer base.

“If anyone has used it and gotten the services, they’re so grateful — the service is so good and people are so compassionate — that they continue to donate, in particular to Halquist, which is part of Arlington community,” she said.

To get back on track, Koutsoumpas said, the nonprofit had to reduce staffing levels and expenses and close the Arlington facility, as well as an assisted living and dementia care facility in Maryland called Arbor Terrace. Staff who could not be relocated were furloughed but could return if the nonprofit’s financial situation improves, the CEO wrote.

“These decisions were not taken lightly and [were] very difficult to make,” he said.

While Cone could not comment on staffing decisions, he affirmed that Halquist’s cadre of volunteers will be able to support patients and will continue maintaining the building and grounds “as if patients were still being cared for there.”

He said the Arbor Terrace facility, meanwhile, is closing because it “did not lend itself to the care surroundings we have high standards for.”

The nonprofit instead intends to staff a new inpatient center that the University of Maryland Medical Complex is planning to build on its campus.

Cone did not confirm the financial considerations Koutsoumpas mentioned but instead highlighted a number of expansions, including more opportunities to provide care across new facilities opening at D.C.’s Sibley Memorial Hospital in August, and in Northern Virginia in November and through an increased presence in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Still, the volunteer said the Halquist closure came as a surprise.

“I was stunned,” she said. “We [the other volunteers] had not heard anything about this.”

The nonprofit will keep the facility in Arlington open until the last patient leaves, according to communications with staff.

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Arlington could have the COVID-19 vaccine as early as the end of this month, but the first shipment of doses won’t be available to the general public.

Nearly a half million healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents across Virginia at risk of being infected will get the first doses from the Virginia Department of Health, and it is not yet known when the rest of the public will get the vaccine.

Arlington’s Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese told the County Board on Tuesday that there is still a lot of unknown information regarding the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that are undergoing Food and Drug Administration approval. He said that the number of vaccine doses that will arrive in Virginia (estimated at 480,000) is a moving target, that both vaccines require recipients to get booster shots within a month, and the effect on children and pregnant women is still unknown.

“The plan is that those health care personnel that directly care for COVID-19 patients, or are in support of that will receive top priority first,” Varghese said. “VDH is working with the Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association to prepare the health systems that have the ultra cold chain storage ability to receive these first shipments, because it has to be done safely and you don’t want to go through the expense of creating all of this, and then not maintain the vaccine at the appropriate temperature.”

On Saturday, the County Board will consider accepting $660,000 in state grants to prepare for mass vaccine distribution. The funds would pay for the hiring of temporary medical and non-medical staff, and cover travel costs, facility rentals and clinic operations, according to Arlington Public Health.

The vaccine will eventually be available at grocery stores, as well as chain and independent pharmacies, according to the VDH COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

Mass vaccine distribution will not necessarily mean that COVID restrictions will be quickly lifted in Arlington, however.

“The fact that we are going to enter a period where vaccination will be available doesn’t mean in any way that all the other precautions for COVID hygiene are going to be relaxed,” County Board member Takis Karantonis said.

There have been 7,062 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arlington since the pandemic began in March, along with 162 deaths and more than 600 total hospitalizations.

Below is Tuesday’s County Board work session discussing vaccination plans.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village. 

(Updated on 12/18/20 at 5:15 p.m.) Three years ago, David Fairbrothers was running out of ideas, and money, to boost his fledgling company. But he took a chance and booked the cheapest booth at a women’s health conference.

He and his business partner, both alumni of the University of Virginia, were developing a platform that would make it easier for doctors to use electronic health records systems. Without a singular field of medicine as its focus, however, the idea was languishing.

After settling into their booth at the conference for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, they met an executive who explained a pain point for ACOG: Whenever the organization releases new clinical guidance, it can take up to a decade for it to be consistently implemented.

That was when the idea for Dorsata was born.

“It was an accident and a stroke of good fortune,” Fairbrothers said.

In addition to helping ACOG get clinical guidance implemented, Dorsata — which is based in Clarendon, at 3100 Clarendon Blvd — improves the process of documenting patient visits. Before the next visit, Dorsata helps remind the doctor of the patient’s particular situation and creates a to-do list adapted to her needs.

“Part of the core problem is that electronic health record systems do not serve doctors especially well, and for Ob-Gyn doctors, it is really bad for documenting care,” Fairbrothers said.

Some electronic medical information systems are unwieldy, and doctors prefer taking freehand notes, but inputting the notes later is time-consuming and may not get done. Other times, without accessible documentation, changes mid-pregnancy might fall through the cracks if a patient is seen by multiple doctors.

The platform has gained a foothold in American obstetrics. Today, Dorsata has more than 1,600 clinical users in 19 states, and has served more than 113,000 patients and managed nearly 794,000 appointments. And this month, Dorsata signed expansion contracts with Privia Health and Women’s Health USA, which will increase the number of Ob-Gyns the company serves by 200 over the next two years.

Dorsata is not just growing its clientele during the pandemic: It is also finding new revenue sources and benefits for its users.

While the coronavirus cannot stop babies, it can grind elective surgeries to a halt. Providers saw gynecology appointments drop by 80% “overnight,” Fairbrothers said.

“Pregnancy has been their saving grace,” he said. But it does not make up for the lost revenue.

In partnership with providers, Dorsata shares data with researchers. Typically, medical researchers gather data at one academic hospital, limiting the scope of data geographically, he said. Dorsata is generating revenue by furnishing researchers with data gathered from every corner of the U.S.

“This allows providers to generate value, financial and scientific, from documenting their patients’ progress,” Fairbrothers said. “This is real world data that we stumbled into and we have a strong opportunity to corner the market.”

With the growth in clients and revenue, Dorsata itself is expanding. The company is planning to double the size of its workforce over the next year, Fairbrothers said.

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A 29-year-old Arlington resident has pleaded guilty to a multi-million dollar healthcare fraud.

Federal prosecutors charged Onkur Lal with bilking Medicaid, Medicare and the TRICARE military health care system out of $3.5 million by submitting fraudulent bills for non-existent prescriptions while working at a trio of local pharmacies.

Prosecutors say Lal conspired with the owner of the pharmacies in carrying out the fraud from 2014 to 2019. After the guilty plea, Lal now faces up to five years in federal prison.

More from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:

An Arlington man pleaded guilty yesterday to his role in a conspiracy to commit health care fraud that resulted in losses of over $3.5 million.

According to court documents, Onkur Lal, 29, worked in various roles at MedEx Pharmacy, MedEx Health Pharmacy, and Royal Care Pharmacy, which were all owned and operated by the same individual. From around 2014 to around 2019, Lal conspired with the owner and others in a number of different fraudulent schemes to defraud health care benefit programs, including TRICARE, Medicare, Virginia Medicaid, and Maryland Medicaid. Lal took part in a number of fraudulent schemes, including generating false prescriptions, billing health insurance companies for prescriptions that were never filled, and billing patients’ health care benefit programs for numerous high cost medications that he and his co-conspirators knew were not prescribed and/or never received.

Lal and his conspirators also submitted false invoices under the names of other pharmacies, in an attempt to circumvent audits. Further, Lal and another co-conspirator fraudulently posed as pharmacists by elevating their title and credentials within the pharmacy’s prescription software system. Lal and his co-conspirator then used these elevated titles to verify prescriptions, which they then submitted to health care benefit programs and pharmaceutical suppliers for payment. The various schemes resulted in health care benefit programs losing more than $3.5 million.

Lal is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 21, 2021, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Dermot F. O’Reilly, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations with the Defense Criminal Investigative Services, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Monika Moore, Carina A. Cuellar, and Jamar K. Walker are prosecuting the case.

Flickr photo by Joe Gratz

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Morning Notes

Northam Announces COVID Changes — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesdays that, starting today, Virginia residents can start having nonemergency surgeries and dental procedures again. The governor also announced that the state Dept. of Health will soon start releasing ZIP code-level coronavirus case data. [WTOP, @kamamasters/Twitter]

County Announces New Housing Director — “Arlington County has selected Anne Venezia to be the County’s new Housing Director… She most recently served six months as the Acting Housing Director and was the Housing Finance Manager for four years prior. Venezia joined Arlington County in 2008.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Pushing for More Census Participation — “Arlington government officials say the county’s census-response rate has passed 60 percent, and local efforts will now be made to reach out to low-response hotspots across the community… the 2010 response rate of 74 percent [was] slightly below the overall Virginia average that year.” [InsideNova]

County’s Memorial Page for Erik Gutshall — Arlington County has established a “Remembering Erik” page on its website, memorializing the late County Board member Erik Gutshall, who passed away earlier this month from brain cancer. [Arlington County]

Library Seeks Material for New Archive — “Arlington Public Library announces the COVID-19 Archives project, designed to create a comprehensive picture of Arlington during an extraordinary period in our history. The Center for Local History (CLH) seeks donations of journals, photos, and objects to help document this time of difficulty and struggle, but also of resilience and hope.” [Arlington County]

Overnight Crash on Carlin Springs RoadUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — “Video appears to show a car crash took down electric lines on Carlin Springs Rd near 7th St. S.” [@statter911/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

County Board Defends COVID-19 Response — “Arlington leaders continue to push back against accusations they could be doing more to address the COVID-19 crisis within the county’s 26 square miles. A number of civic-activists used the public-comment period of the County Board’s April 25 meeting (held ‘virtually’ after the government received state authority to do so) to rap officials for not imposing more aggressive regulation of daily life.” [InsideNova]

More Contributions for Small Biz Grant Fund — “The Arlington County Industrial Development Authority has joined Arlington Economic Development’s (AED) efforts to help small businesses… [The authority] approved a contribution of $326,000 of its own funding. Together with the $674,000 of funding from the County, and the recently announced contributions of $100,000 each by the Crystal City and Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts, total GRANT program funding has reached $1.2 million.” [Arlington County, Rosslyn BID]

Ballston Hotel Donates Rooms to Healthcare Workers — “The Ballston BID is collaborating with local organizations to coordinate free accommodations at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston for essential healthcare workers in the community. Chesapeake Hospitality, which manages the Ballston-based Holiday Inn on North Fairfax, is donating a complimentary block of 50 rooms per day… to frontline medical staff, their families, and those most vulnerable within the community.” [Press Release]

Arlington Gets Okay Social Distancing Marks — “Falls Church has a C+, Fairfax County has a C and Arlington gets a B- in social distancing grades from @Unacast. Virginia’s grade is D- and the U.S. as a whole gets a D+.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

New Deputy Chief for ACPD — “Arlington County Police Chief M. Jay Farr is pleased to announce the appointment of Captain Adrienne Quigley to the position of Deputy Chief of Police, effective Sunday, May 10, 2020. Deputy Chief Quigley will assume command of the Systems Management Division at a later date.” [Arlington County]

Historic Home and Huge Lot Not for Sale, Yet — “Long coveted by developers and planners for schools and parks, the home built just after the Civil War has stirred interest since the death in 2017 of owner Randy Rouse, the homebuilder and equestrian. But his widow still lives in the home. And this week, it appears that some speculation on marketing the house was premature, the chances that the county could purchase it almost nil.” [Falls Church News-Press]

COVID Case Shuts Down Credit Union Branch — “The Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is closing one of their branches after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the credit union announced Monday morning.” [Patch]

Bankruptcy for Hair Cuttery, Bubbles — “Ratner Cos., the Vienna-based parent company of hair salon chains including the Hair Cuttery, Bubbles and Cielo, has filed for bankruptcy protection after closing more than 80 locations across the country in March. The company and related entities, including Creative Hairdressers Inc., filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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