© 2024 WHRO Public Media
5200 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk VA 23508
757.889.9400 | info@whro.org
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Health roundup: Masking in hospitals, sickle cell treatments, sustainability and more

(Courtesy: Shutterstock)
(Courtesy: Shutterstock)

RSV vaccines still scarce

Media partner VPM reports that the Beyfortus vaccine for infants is in short supply this month. It helps prevent infections with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). 

Children's Hospital of Richmond got just over half of the 200 vaccines it requested from its supplier in October, and by January, many of those were gone. Hospital staff estimated a year’s supply of vaccines would be around 3,000.

RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization nationwide.   

The CDC expedited the release of 77,000 additional doses of Beyfortus in November, but it’s unclear when those vaccines will be available to administer to babies.

Hampton Roads hospitals ask for masks inside

Area health care providers want patients and visitors to begin masking again due to an uptick in cases of flu, COVID and RSV across the state.

Dale Gauding with Sentara Health said healthcare providers don’t want cases to rise here.

“We think that it is strongly advisable for people to take reasonable precautions anytime they’re in a healthcare facility, to protect other people and themselves by wearing a mask,” Gauding said.

Right now, it’s only a strong recommendation — not a mandate.

Read the full story here.

Recent WHRO program covered new sickle cell disease treatments

Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that affects around 100,000 Americans, most of them Black. Two gene therapies approved by the FDA in December would eliminate symptoms, but prices for each one-time treatment are in the millions.

WHRO current affairs program “Another View” took a look at both the benefits and prohibitive costs of these treatments in their latest episode.

“You still would have to travel more than likely, you have a hospital stay … there's all these other things that doesn't, at this point in time, make it the miracle drug that the headlines may have presented,” host Barbara Hamm Lee said.

The disease disproportionately affects Black Americans and damages quality of life. 

“It's time sensitive tissue injury on the level of the bone and in the vessels,” said Dr. Simone Uwan, a guest on the program who lives with the disease. “Anywhere that blood flows and it can be blocked by these sickle cells, you can have tissue injury.”

Listen to the episode here.

Sentara tackles going green with new sustainability director

Lisa Darger is Sentara Health’s first director of sustainability. One of the first things she’ll work on is where the health system can cut energy costs without sacrificing quality of care.

“If we reduce our energy costs, let's say by switching out to LED lighting, you're not compromising patient care, temperature or anything like that, but you are saving bottom line dollars. So in turn, you can reinvest that,” she said.

Darger said one of the most gratifying parts of her job is what she calls the “warm and fuzzy” side of sustainability work.

“It's the engagement of employees and the community to help people understand how small things in their day-to-day lives can make an impact on our environment. The healthier our planet, that means our patients are living in a more healthy environment,” she said.

Read the full story here.

Measles rears its head in Northern Virginia

Travelers at both Dulles International and Reagan National airports in Northern Virginia may have been exposed to measles earlier this month.

The Virginia Department of Health says a traveler with a confirmed case of measles was at Dulles on Jan. 3 and Reagan National on Jan. 4.

No confirmed Virginia cases have emerged, but people whose travel plans overlapped with the infected patients should test, according to the health department.

Symptoms like fever, red eyes, congestion don't typically show up until after two weeks of exposure — which makes it doubly important to monitor and test.

The world changes fast.

Keep up with daily local news from WHRO. Get local news every weekday in your inbox.

Sign-up here.