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Local nonprofit introduces prescription mailing program for vulnerable and low-income patients

The mail delivery program, which was designed and launched in just 30 days, aims to reduce the possible exposure to the virus for patients, clinic staff, and volunteers and ensures that patients with chronic conditions receive vital medication in a timely manner. It comes at no additional cost to partner clinics or patients and provides a 90-day supply of medication to recipients.

RVAHub Staff

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A Richmond-based nonprofit focused on increasing access to critically needed medications for Virginians with limited income, Rx Partnership, has launched a prescription mailing program that enables partner clinics across the state to send prescriptions directly to patients’ homes rather than patients picking up their medications in person.

The mail delivery program, which was designed and launched in just 30 days, aims to reduce the possible exposure to the virus for patients, clinic staff, and volunteers and ensures that patients with chronic conditions receive vital medication in a timely manner. It comes at no additional cost to partner clinics or patients and provides a 90-day supply of medication to recipients.

“Mail delivery was a part of our long-term strategic plan to further our mission of increasing medication access for vulnerable Virginians,” said Amy Yarcich, Rx Partnership’s Executive Director. “While the last four months have been extremely challenging for everyone, it has been particularly devastating for low-income and uninsured Virginians who already struggle to get their much-needed medications. Launching mail delivery now was essential.”

“Initially, our plan was for the program to run through July 31 but given its success so far and the ongoing need, we are excited to extend it until at least the end of the year.”

Rx Partnership works with 31 clinics across the state, including CrossOver Healthcare Ministry in the Greater Richmond Region. So far, ten clinics are participating in the program, which has given Virginia patients the opportunity to receive medications without putting themselves or others at risk.

“Under normal circumstances, transportation to pick up medications from the clinic can be a challenge for our patients; given the current climate, it’s been even more difficult to do so,” said Julie Bilodeau, CEO at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry. “This program is so valuable because it has allowed our patients to stay safe during the pandemic and still access the medicine they need to stay healthy.”

The prescription mailing program was made possible by generous donations from individuals and community partners in Richmond and throughout the state.

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The new on-campus college experience: self-isolation and distraction

Social isolation due to the coronavirus has become a stressor for many college students across Virginia, who report that studying is more difficult and their mental health is suffering.

Capital News Service

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By Hunter Britt

Social isolation due to the coronavirus has become a stressor for many college students across Virginia, who report that studying is more difficult and their mental health is suffering.

Shane Emory, a senior broadcast journalism major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, says he is experiencing this firsthand. While the dorms are quieter overall, there is very little opportunity to escape distractions. Emory says that his guitar and television are the top two things that draw him away from work.

Since the pandemic swept the nation, altered routines have become the new normal. Students who usually study in the library say that is no longer an option to consider lightly. Many students say the best option is to stay put and endure distractions and loneliness rather than risk contracting the virus or unknowingly endangering someone else.

Camryn Nesmith, a junior nursing major at Liberty University in Lynchburg, says that increased social isolation has taken a toll on her concentration and mental wellbeing. She also says that it is difficult to escape from loud noises and distractions in her dorm.

“There has been an effect on my school work because I don’t do well doing schoolwork in my dorm. I need to be in the library or somewhere like that,” she says. “I try to get my work done early in the morning when it’s quiet.”

Nesmith feels that Liberty prioritizes the safety of its students and that there are always people enforcing the rules and making sure everyone wears a mask. The university is currently reporting 184 total cases since Sept. 2. Almost 490 on-campus students are currently quarantined, along with 492 commuters and 139 employees.

Marian Woodington, a sophomore vocal music education major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, says via email that she initially attended in-person classes, albeit reluctantly. Cases quickly spiked at the Harrisonburg-based university, hitting over 500 the first week classes resumed.

“I did feel reluctant because, since there were not harsh regulations, anyone could have sat in the seat that I chose, and they could be sick,” she says. “The rooms were only cleaned at certain times throughout the day and you never know what someone else has touched when walking into a building.”

JMU classes were moved online about a week after starting after consultation with the Virginia Department of Health. As of Friday, the university has reported almost 1,400 total coronavirus cases since Aug. 17.

The pandemic has caused a significant mental health impact on students. More students are using VCU support services, according to Jihad Aziz, the interim executive director of VCU University Counseling Services. Students who have sought counseling this semester raise many concerns such as worry over family members and the fear of contracting the coronavirus, Aziz said in an email. The office has implemented some new methods in response, such as offering support groups for students that meet weekly over Zoom.

“We know that students are seeking connection and it’s important that they know that they are not alone during these difficult times,” Aziz says. “We have support groups specifically for students of color, those with chronic health issues, health professional students, and a few others.”

VCU initially experienced a spike in cases when a cluster of 44 positive cases connected to VCU Athletics was reported in the second week of classes. The university has reported a total of 251 cases since Aug. 17.

COVID-19 and the accompanying economic recession have negatively affected the mental health of many people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. A Kaiser poll taken in mid-July reported that 53% of U.S. adults say their anxiety levels have increased significantly due to stress associated with COVID-19. Adults also reported difficulties sleeping and eating due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.

Rickaya Sykes, a junior theatre performance major at VCU, has a different perspective on how staying inside has affected her mental health. She considers herself an extrovert, but says that prolonged periods indoors have improved her concentration and time management.

“I’m able to relax knowing that I don’t want to go out because of the virus,” she says. “I can stay in and cook, I can watch movies, and I don’t feel pressured to be on the go all the time. I find it soothing to not have plans to go anywhere.”

According to the CDC, taking time to relax and unwind can be a good way to cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like Sykes, Emory also is taking time to relax. When the call of his guitar becomes too loud to ignore, he puts down the books and picks it up.

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Kroger donates $55,000 towards Feed More’s mobile pantry program

Feed More’s Mobile Pantry, powered by Kroger, distributes thousands of pounds of food each month to people where they live.

RVAHub Staff

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Grocer Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic operations recently donated $55,000 to Feed More in continued support of the food bank’s mobile pantry program. Feed More’s Mobile Pantry, powered by Kroger, distributes thousands of pounds of food each month to people where they live.

The program provides each household with perishable and nonperishable food items, including a lean protein, fresh produce, bakery items, and other shelf-stable items and reaches both rural and urban communities throughout Central Virginia. The Mobile Pantry serves approximately 5,400 individuals each month, averaging over 101,000 meals and 122,000 pounds of food in a typical month. In the last year, Feed More’s Mobile Pantry distributed nearly one and a half million pounds of food to children, adults, and seniors, greatly improving their access to healthy, nutritious food.

Kroger initially contributed to the mobile pantry in May 2018, donating a $120,000 refrigerated box truck. This enabled Feed More to deliver more fresh food to underserved communities and neighborhoods with limited access to grocery stores across Central Virginia. The support is in line with Kroger’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste campaign, a company-wide commitment to end hunger and eliminate food waste by 2025.

“When Feed More identified the mobile pantry as an area where they need continued support, we didn’t hesitate,” said Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager at Kroger Mid-Atlantic. “This initiative is incredibly important to reach people who would otherwise not have access to nutritional food, and we know that need has only increased with the pandemic.”

“Food insecurity has become a reality for far too many of our neighbors. We are grateful to have partners like Kroger who bring solutions to the table and do everything they can to help fight hunger,” said Doug Pick, CEO of Feed More.

Kroger Mid-Atlantic has supported Feed More for nearly 20 years and has donated more than one million dollars to the non-profit to help end food insecurity and over 4,000,000 pounds of food to Feed More’s network of area food pantries since 2010.

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Four-legged assistant at Sheltering Arms is helping change lives

Motivation and support come in many forms, including a cold nose and a warm heart. Sheltering Arms Institute has welcomed its newest team member, Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dog, Clara.

RVAHub Staff

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Motivation and support come in many forms, including a cold nose and a warm heart. Sheltering Arms Institute, a collaboration with VCU Health, has welcomed its newest team member, Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dog, Clara. Clara will assist handler Dr. Cynthia Rolston, Director of Psychosocial Services and Inter-Professional Science, in her work with patients.

Clara is a two-year-old Lab/Golden Retriever cross and has been training since she was eight weeks old. After being carefully matched with one another, Clara and Dr. Rolston spent the last two weeks working with professional Canine Companions instructors to prepare for their new roles. Training consisted of intensive lectures, hands-on practice and simulations, and multiple examinations in order to acquire public certification.

In just her first few days on the job, Clara has already acclimated to the many changes in her life and settled into her new home and work environment, bringing smiles to our patients’ faces.

“This is a new and exciting program for all of us, and I can’t wait to see how Clara helps our patients achieve independence,” Dr. Rolston said. “We will be working together as a team as we integrate Clara into patient therapy sessions at Sheltering Arms Institute.”

Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised, and expertly trained assistance dogs in more than 40 commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire patients with special needs. Clara can pull toy wagons, push drawers closed, and retrieve all kinds of items. She has specific commands that allow her to interact with patients in a calm and appropriate way.

“We have full confidence Clara will be an exceptional facility dog for Sheltering Arms Institute and bring a host of skills and smiles to the halls daily. She will assist the patients with their therapies, help patients practice their activities of daily living, and bring an added psychological assist,” said Debra Dougherty, Northeast Region Executive Director for Canine Companions for Independence.

Canine Companions for Independence enhances the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 6,000 assistance dogs with program graduates. Canine Companions depends on the support of tens of thousands of donors and volunteers to match our facility with an assistance dog like Clara entirely free of charge. The support for staff training and Clara’s ongoing needs is being provided by generous Sheltering Arms Foundation donors.

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