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Virginia Rural Caucus Meeting Focuses on Health Care

Richmond, Va. – Health care was the focus of the February 14 Rural Caucus meeting, which welcomed Dr. Daniel Carey, VA Secretary of Health and Human Resources as a guest presenter.

Carey began with some remarks on the problem of addiction and the successful results being seen from the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) program.

He also gave an update on the launch of the Same Day Access Program, which is facilitating same-day access to behavioral health services at the Community Service Board (CSB) level.

“It’s incredibly important, because if you’re given an appointment to be seen in three weeks, your likelihood of not making that appointment or deteriorating and ending up in the emergency room is pretty high,” said Carey.

Carey said that in 2017, phase one of same day access funding reached 18 of 40 CSBs, enabling a citizen in those regions to undergo a mental health assessment the very same day they first reach out for help.

Pointing to a map, Carey said that funding targets “mirror the addiction issue, and were designed to address those areas that had the highest needs in terms of addiction and other behavioral health issues.”

Preliminary data shows that the same day funding has been very successful in decreasing the backlog of cases, increasing show rates, and decreasing no-show rates. Plans are in place to fund the other 22 CSBs.

“The goal is that it shouldn’t matter if you live in Richmond, or Fairfax County, or in rural areas of Virginia,” said Carey. “You should expect similar services from your Community Services Board.”

Following Carey, the Rural Caucus welcomed Shelly Smith, DNP, APRN-BC, who is Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the DNP Program in the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems at VCU.

Smith provided attendees with an overview of HB 793, which seeks to help lower barriers to practice for Nurse Practitioners in Virginia.

In addition to reducing a 10,000 hour requirement, HB 793 aims to address concerns around the process for validating a transition period, grandfathering existing NPs who have already practiced for the required years, endorsing NPs coming from other states, and instructions given to Joint Boards in promulgating new regulations.

“The proposed 10,000 hour nurse practitioner transition period requirement would perpetuate Virginia’s status as an outlier,” said Smith.

Smith added that 22 states and Washington D.C. have full practice authority for nurse practitioners and of those, only 9 require any transitional period.

Smith indicated that HB 793 would help alleviate a lack of providers in rural areas.

“Many Virginia counties have a ratio of over 6,000 patients to one primary care provider,” Smith said.

Virginia Rural Caucus meetings are held each Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Senate Subcommittee Room #2, located on the 5th floor of the Pocahontas Building. For more information, visit the Center for Rural Virginia Events Calendar here. For more information, visit the Center for Rural Virginia Events Calendar here or contact Executive Director Kristie Proctor at or (804) 512-1453.

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