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Health roundup: Chesapeake Regional’s first open-heart surgery; Preparing for Florida’s abortion ban; Virginia kids getting weed-sick

Chesapeake Regional removed a sign advertising open-heart surgery coming to the hospital after performing the first open-heart procedure April 30.
Photo by Ryan Murphy
Chesapeake Regional removed a sign advertising open-heart surgery coming to the hospital after performing the first open-heart procedure April 30.

Health news from Hampton Roads and Virginia in May.

Virginia Planned Parenthood sees more clients as Florida abortion ban goes into effect

Virginia is now the only southern state that has not imposed additional restrictions on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, said Paulette McElwain, Chief Executive Officer of Virginia League for Planned Parenthood

“In the midst of this crisis, we are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of our patients and supporting our highly skilled providers and healthcare teams,” she said during a press call in May.

In 2022, only 3% of Virginia’s clients came from out of state. By the first week of May 2024, 30% of the people making new appointments at Planned Parenthood were from out of state, McElwain said.

Virginia’s Planned Parenthood was anticipating the influx. It has added new staff at its clinics in Richmond, Hampton and Virginia Beach.

Read more

Chesapeake Regional performs its first open-heart surgery

Chesapeake Regional Medical Center performed its first open heart surgery April 30, the culmination of a five-year fight that went all the way up to the state Supreme Court.

“This is the beginning of a new era for Chesapeake Regional,” Chesapeake Regional President and CEO Reese Jackson said in a press release. “An open-heart surgery program is a natural next step to complement our award-winning cardiovascular services. It also addresses a critical need in the region.”

Edward Coleman, medical director of the cardiothoracic program, performed the bypass surgery with the hospital's open heart surgical team.

The procedure restores blood to blocked arteries and is a life-saving and “life-extending” procedure, Coleman said.

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The hospital at Langley becomes site of a new VA clinic.
Photo by Steve Walsh
The hospital at Joint Base Langley-Eustis now includes a clinic for veterans.

VA opens a new clinic inside Langley

A new VA clinic opened inside the hospital at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in May.

The clinic will serve as many as 10,000 veteran patients, providing primary care and outpatient services.

The Veterans Health Administration has to expand quickly in Hampton Roads as the number of new patients surge – the region has roughly 108,000 veterans and has grown nearly 20% in the last five years.

Read more

Virginia launches ‘surveillance system’ for kids sickened by cannabis

Virginia State Health Commissioner Karen Shelton said her agency received enough reports of minors getting sick from products containing CBD and THC that the state was establishing a “special surveillance system” to keep tabs on the issue.

In a letter to clinicians, Shelton specifically asked local health departments be made aware of any cannabis-related hospitalizations in patients under 18 years old and any “clusters of adverse events” affecting multiple minors.

“After a hospitalization or cluster is reported, VDH staff will collect information about the illness(es), possible exposures, and laboratory results,” the letter says.

Earlier this year, Gov. Glenn Youngkin pointed to health risks to children as one of his reasons for vetoing legislation that would have legalized retail sales of marijuana for purely recreational use.

Read more from our media partner the Virginia Mercury

Thousands in northeastern North Carolina gain health insurance under Medicaid

More than 7,500 North Carolinians in the northeastern part of the state have enrolled in Medicaid since it was expanded last year, according to updated state data.

Most of those have been in Pasquotank county — 1,999 newly covered people — followed by Dare County with 1,138 people who now have state-subsidized health insurance.

"From the day we launched Medicaid expansion, we’ve been committed to getting people covered and getting them care as fast as possible," North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley said in a press release.

"We are doing that even faster than expected and ensuring North Carolinians receive the health information, support and care they need to help them stay healthy.”

Read more here.

Mechelle is News Director at WHRO. She helped launch the newsroom as a reporter in 2020. She's worked in newspapers and nonprofit news in her career. Mechelle lives in Virginia Beach, where she grew up.

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