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VCU President releases statement on Trump’s DACA phase out

“We are a university community proudly grounded in core values of inclusion and compassion toward one another,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a statement.

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Earlier today the Trump Administration announced the six-month phase out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program allows nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to remain in the country.

DACA recipients could still be allowed to stay but that would require action by the Republican controlled Congress before the deadline of March 5, 2018.

Understandably this change has caused concern at local colleges that have DACA recipients as students.

VCU President Michael Rao released the following statement on the announcement:

The Trump Administration’s announcement today to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA, over the next six months leaves us with many unknowns. But we remain certain of VCU’s unequivocal support of our DACA students. DACA students are an integral part of our community, and VCU will continue to assist DACA students as they complete their educations and move on to contribute to our society.

We will continue to advocate for DACA students within the legal bounds that govern us as a public university. We are committed to safeguard their privacy and confidentiality to the fullest extent allowed by law.

We are reviewing the changes to DACA with appropriate state officials and will keep the university community advised as the policy and practical implications become clearer. For important resources and information available to the VCU community, please visit https://students.vcu.edu/resources/daca/.

We are a university community proudly grounded in core values of inclusion and compassion toward one another. We will use this occasion, once again, to demonstrate the values that define us, guide us and unite us as one university. VCU will embrace all of our people and help all of our people succeed.

Indeed, we are made stronger by the experiences and talents of all of our people, including those who enhance our educational experience with perspectives from around the world.

I appreciate the effort and commitment of so many people across VCU who help ensure that all members of our community feel welcome, safe and empowered. Thank you for embodying our greatest commitment: our commitment to one another.Sincerely,

Sincerely,Michael

Michael Rao

President, VCU and VCU Health System

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Government

City Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

RVAHub is not a city-run production but just like most of the city services we’ll be taking a break and be back on Monday.

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City of Richmond government offices, including City Hall, will be closing at noon on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 and will remain closed Thursday, November 26, through Friday, November 27, 2020 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. City offices will reopen at regular business hours on Monday, November 30, 2020.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities’ administrative offices will operate from 8 a.m. until Noon on Wednesday. All city community centers will operate from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday and will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Richmond Animal Care and Control is currently only available by appointment and will be closed Thursday and Friday. All city libraries will be closed Thursday and Friday. All library branches will resume normal scheduling on Saturday.

This closing will also affect the city’s Solid Waste Management Division. Refuse collection will take place on Wednesday off Thursday and Friday and resume on Saturday, November 28, 2020 at regular schedule from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The East Richmond Road Convenience Center will be closed Thursday and Friday and resume on Saturday, November 28, 2020 on a regular schedule from, 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

For more information on city services and schedules, please visit RichmondGov.com.

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COVID-19 amplifies struggles with mental health, substance abuse – what Henrico County is doing about it

Since the pandemic started in mid-March, communities across the country have seen sharp increases in drug overdoses, suicides and requests for services. The trends have played out locally, with Henrico County already recording 41% more drug overdoses this year than in all of 2019.

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The stresses and strains of the COVID-19 pandemic have been enough to test anyone’s well-being.

But the inescapable challenges – from social isolation and financial uncertainty to concerns about one’s health – can quickly overwhelm those struggling with substance use and mental health, said Leslie Stephen, a program manager with Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services (MH/DS).

“There have just been compounding issues,” she said. “When there are so many issues to deal with, a person’s capacity to take on more is reduced.”

Since the pandemic started in mid-March, communities across the country have seen sharp increases in drug overdoses, suicides and requests for services. The trends have played out locally, with Henrico County already recording 41% more drug overdoses this year than in all of 2019.

“These numbers understate the full problem because many overdoses are not reported,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said in a recent letter to the Board of Supervisors on plans to open a detoxification and recovery center. “In recent years, there have been more deaths in Henrico from overdoses than from car accidents, homicides or suicides – and this trend will be true again in 2020.”

Similarly, the number of individuals prescreened for hospitalization because of mental health concerns was up 13% from July through September compared with the same period last year.

In addition, orders to place someone in emergency custody rose by 15%. One of every five individuals held on temporary detention orders was later admitted to state facilities, instead of treated locally. That’s higher than normal, in part because fewer beds are available due to the pandemic’s need for physical distancing.

MH/DS bolsters mental health, substance use services during COVID-19

MH/DS, which serves Henrico, New Kent and Charles City counties, has been working to ensure its services remain available and accessible during the pandemic while the county also develops an enhanced treatment model for substance use.

Staff have been conducting appointments mainly by phone or video, although in-person meetings are available if necessary. For more information, go to henrico.us/mhds or bouncebackhc.com. To access services, call (804) 727-8515.

The challenges from COVID-19 have been particularly acute for those who rely on regular, face-to-face support from clinicians and peers. Now, many of those sessions are held virtually.

“You think about folks in recovery, it really is that interaction that makes a difference,” MH/DS Executive Director Laura Totty said. “It’s that daily support that they get. The isolation necessitated by COVID-19 has been a real challenge.”

For many, the pressures and strains will only intensify as the state has imposed tighter measures following a surge in coronavirus cases ahead of the holiday season, which is often a difficult time for those with mental health and substance use challenges.

“I worry that many people may struggle when they’re unable to engage in activities that have given them comfort and support in the past,” Stephen said.

William Pye, a peer specialist with MH/DS, leads a
virtual REVIVE! training session on the administration
of Narcan, a drug that can temporarily reverse the
toxic effects of opioids and save the life of someone
who has overdosed.

In September, the agency also began offering rapid access to medication-assisted treatment for individuals addicted to opioids. After their same-day access assessment, clients are connected with a prescriber for treatment with Suboxone, which curbs symptoms of withdrawal during detoxification.

MH/DS also is offering nine virtual trainings per week on REVIVE!, a free program on how to administer Narcan to save someone after an opioid overdose. Participants receive the medication by mail. To sign up, call (804) 727-8515.

To enhance its mental health services, MH/DS has partnered with the National Counseling Group to provide mobile support to individuals in crisis and avoid hospitalizations whenever possible.

Henrico advances new strategies to help those in recovery

Apart from its work in the pandemic, Henrico continues to look for new and better ways to help those struggling with substance use.

The county recently established a program to cover two weeks of housing costs for qualified individuals when they are admitted to a certified recovery home. So far, 13 recovery residences have applied for the program, which is known as CHIRP or Community-based Housing for Individuals in the Recovery Process.

“This gives the individual a chance to live in a safe, sober environment while they start to work on their recovery,” Totty said.

In addition, Henrico is advancing its plans to build a 24-hour detoxification and recovery center that would provide voluntary, medically supervised recovery services for adults.

The estimated 17,000-square-foot facility is planned on Nine Mile Road, near MH/DS’ East Center, and would have initially 12 to 16 beds. It would be licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and managed by MH/DS with support from public and private partners.

The center was recommended by the Recovery Roundtable, a county work group that spent eight months looking at ways to reduce overdoses and strengthen recovery resources in the community.

“The Recovery Roundtable concluded the lack of access to detoxification is a significant gap and a barrier to recovery,” Vithoulkas said in his recent letter to the Board of Supervisors. “In fact, our jail has become the default provider of public detox in the County, having performed nearly 2,000 detoxes last year.”

Henrico has issued a request for proposals for consulting services as part of its planning for the detoxification and recovery facility. Funding for design and construction are expected to be considered as part of the county’s fiscal 2021-22 budget.

With the pandemic causing so much disruption, Stephen said it has been inspiring to see MH/DS staff confront each challenge and find innovative ways to provide the services the community desperately needs.

“It’s also amazing to see our clients so committed to working on their recovery,” she said. “Even with all that COVID-19 has thrown at them, they are determined to clear the hurdles that are in their way.”

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Henrico County to begin 2020-21 leaf collection efforts week of November 9th

Henrico County will begin providing annual leaf-collection services Monday, Nov. 9, with both free and paid options available for county residents.

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Henrico County will begin providing annual leaf-collection services Monday, Nov. 9, with both free and paid options available for county residents.

Free collection of bagged leaves is scheduled through Feb. 13. Crews will work week to week in five zones; each zone will receive two pickups over the course of the program. Collection is provided automatically for residents living in designated zones. Residents living outside those areas can order free pickup of bagged leaves by calling (804) 727-8770.

Residents are encouraged to place their bags at the curb or road’s edge on the Sunday of the assigned pickup week; crews will begin collection at 7 a.m. Monday. Bags should be free of trash and debris and must be accessible from the street as crews are not authorized to enter private property.

Henrico also will offer vacuum leaf collection from Nov. 9 through Dec. 30 and again from Feb. 22 through March 31. Residents can order the $30 service by calling (804) 501-4275. Leaves should be placed at the curb or road’s edge and be free of trash, sticks and other debris.

Whether using the bagged pickup or vacuum service, residents are encouraged to avoid placing bags or loose leaves in traffic lanes, parking spaces, storm drains or ditches. In addition to creating a potential traffic hazard, misplaced leaves can block drainage and contribute to stormwater pollution.

Henrico’s public-use areas, located at 2075 Charles City Road and 10600 Fords Country Lane, offer residents another leaf-disposal option. Bagged leaves will be accepted at no cost from Nov. 9 through Feb. 13. Loose leaves and other yard debris are accepted year-round at no charge. The public-use areas are open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. except for certain holidays.

Additional information is available from the Department of Public Utilities.

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