Category Archives: Public safety & health

Fewer Children Seeking ER Treatment for Cannabis Ingestion

Cannabis-Related Pediatric Emergency Department Visits by Month. Source: Virginia Hospital Association

by James A. Bacon

The number of pediatric patients visiting hospital emergency rooms in cannabis-related incidents fell 21.5% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period the year before, a decline that some attribute to bipartisan legislation regulating the production, sale, and potency of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana-related products.

A Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association analysis shows that the volume of cannabis-related visits among pediatric patients had been trending higher over the past several years, peaking in late 2022 and early 2023 before dropping sharply in June 2023.

“This law was introduced to protect Virginia children and families from being harmed by ingesting unregulated, intoxicating products that can pose serious health risks,” said Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, who sponsored the bill to regulate THC-infused products. “So, it is certainly welcome news to see that this policy change appears to be having a positive effect in terms of declining pediatric emergency department visits due to cannabis exposure.” Continue reading

Yes, MSNBC Morons, Virginia IS a Border State.

by Kerry Dougherty 

Remember back on the night of Super Tuesday when MSNBC’s far-left host Rachel Maddow and former Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki convulsed in laughter as they reported that the number one issue for Republican voters was the border?

“Well Virginia does have a border with West Virginia,” Maddow cackled, sending the panel of unserious pundits into more gales of laughter as they mocked both conservative Virginians and West Virginians.

It was a leftist twofer! The only thing missing was a crack about “deplorables.”

I guess it never occurred to these mindless cable creatures that 1,951 Virginians died of fentanyl overdoses in 2022, up 30% from the year before. In fact, according to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, more Virginians die every year from drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents and gun-related deaths combined.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia.

And how do most illegal drugs get into our country? From China, via Mexico and the drug cartels running our border.

But go ahead and yuck it up ladies. We’re such a bunch of rubes down here. Continue reading

“Blessed“ Is the Second RVA Casino Referendum

by Jon Baliles

Early voting has begin in Virginia and the Richmond casino advocates have gone all-in with the mayor and City Council to make sure the referendum got back on the ballot and now are betting the house with an absurd amount of money to make sure the referendum passes this time.

Jimmy Cloutier at Virginia Investigative Journalism has an interesting piece on the all out effort by the casino advocates to buy their way to a victory at the polls  this time around. He points out that two out-of-state companies (Urban One, based in Maryland and Churchill Downs, based in Kentucky) have already raised $8.1 million which “dwarfs the amount of money raised in every Virginia legislative race and ballot initiative in state history, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by OpenSecrets.” Continue reading

Virginia Deserves a Parole Board that Puts Public Safety First

Patricia West

by Kerry Dougherty

When Terry McAuliffe was governor he found a loyal Democrat lawyer to appoint to head Virginia’s parole board.

That was Adrianne Bennett, a failed candidate for the House of Delegates in 2011 and undoubtedly the most controversial parole board chair in Virginia history. She was a success if you believe, as McAuliffe apparently did, that the job of that board is to spring murderers and make Virginians less safe. Continue reading

Heat Wave? Here In Southeastern Virginia We Call It July.

by Kerry Dougherty

Stop the presses. It’s July 26th. And it’s hot. My trusty iPhone weather app says it will hit 91 today, 94 Thursday and 96 on Friday.

Who could have predicted such temperatures? Actually, all of us. It’s called JULY.

And yes, much of the country is in a record heat wave with far hotter weather. It’s not the first heat wave and it won’t be the last. But there is a new breed of “safetyist” afoot. Not the usual alarmists who feel it’s their duty to remind us every summer to wear light clothing, drink water — not tequila — and not to exercise at high noon, as if we are idiots.

This new bunch is raising the alarm on the dangers of temperatures — get this — above 90.
Continue reading

Past Time for Serious Sanctions for the Commonwealth’s Worst Nursing Homes

by James C. Sherlock

Effective May 1 of this year, Karen Shelton M.D. became Virginia’s Health Commissioner. Dr. Shelton is now the licensor and regulator of Virginia’s nursing homes.

By law, state-licensed nursing homes must comply with federal and state laws and standards. By regulation, the Health Commissioner “may impose such administrative sanctions or take such actions as are appropriate for violation of any of the standards or statutes or for abuse or neglect of persons in care.”

It is time.

I hope that she will pose a challenge to her Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC), of which I am a public admirer, that goes something like this.

Too many Virginia nursing homes are measured objectively by CMS (the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services) to be dangerous to the health and welfare of their patients through a combination of:

  • inspections that we ourselves conduct;
  • staffing measures linked to payroll data; and
  • medical quality measures from federal records.

Many have been that way for a very long time.

Current staffing far below CMS requirements seems to indicate that too many have no apparent path to improvement.

Come and see me in a couple of weeks with a list of the absolute worst of them.

And tell me why I should not shut them down to let the rest know that there are minimum standards beneath which they will not be permitted to operate in Virginia.

And one more thing.

Please let me know if there are organizations or individuals, current or recent, whose facilities have appeared regularly enough with the lowest staffing rating to indicate that understaffing may constitute a business model rather than a local exigency.

That too will not be tolerated.

We will take on those challenges here as if they are our own.

This article will identify the absolute worst of the facilities, using government records. The next will look at understaffing trends among owners. Continue reading

Virginia Nursing Home Regulations and Inspections – A Strategic Improvement Recommendation

By James C. Sherlock

Those who read this blog know that Virginia has far more than its share of bad nursing homes. They just do not know what can or should be done about it.

This third in a current series on Virginia nursing homes will take on a problem that is self-inflicted – the state’s nursing home regulatory structure.

Virginia’s nursing home regulations, upon which Virginia licensing inspections are based, are promulgated by the Board of Health.  They are at best redundant to federal requirements.

At worst they are different than federal standards, with no discernible gain in nursing home quality.  Operators follow the federal rules anyway, because they are almost inevitably stricter than those of the state.

Virginia can improve its nursing home regulations by conforming them precisely to federal regulations.  State law already requires them to be in “substantial conformity.”

This change, if accompanied by the combining of federal and state inspections which it would enable, would make everybody happy.  It would also go a long way towards fixing the staffing problems at Virginia’s inspection agency by reducing significantly their required efforts.

Continue reading

Note to Hybrid and EV Owners and Those in Collisions with Them – Don’t Try to Extinguish a Battery Fire

by James C. Sherlock

CNBC reported today as breaking news a concern about hybrid and electric vehicle fires that professional firefighters have known about for some time.

Vehicles with lithium-ion batteries can be especially dangerous when they catch fire.

CNBC offers a video showing smoke billowing from three electric pickups parked tightly together.

Moments later, flames shoot several feet above the vehicles, which were unoccupied.

Fires involving EV batteries can burn hotter and longer and require new techniques to extinguish, posing a growing challenge to first responders.

Hybrid electrics, which have both a high voltage battery and an internal combustion engine, have a 3.4% likelihood of vehicle fires according to a study, far higher than either internal combustion or electric alone.

Spontaneous combustion of an EV battery is unlikely, but collisions are a concern. Continue reading

Central State Hospital – the State’s Only Maximum Security Mental Health Facility, a Legacy of Jim Crow and Not Nearly Good Enough

By James C. Sherlock

I have written often about the state of mental health support in Virginia. The Governor has a major initiative to improve it.

But it does not go far enough.

The state maximum security mental health facility at Central State Hospital needs to be disbanded and the duties dispersed across the state.

The legacy of that hospital is indefensible, and carries over to today.

The video published showing the death in Central State Hospital (CHS) of Irvo Otieno showed an almost entirely Black group of people — victim, sheriff’s deputies, and CHS staff.

It turns out not to be an anomaly.

Before integration, Central State was Virginia’s Black mental hospital.

Based on records provided by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Central State Hospital, the state’s only mental hospital built to maximum security standards, is today:

  • a largely Black institution;
  • with a largely Black staff. Of 930 current staffers at CHS, 649 are Black; 77 are “other” races and 204 are White;
  • providing services to a largely Black patient population. Of 264 patients, 160 are Black, 80 white and 24 other races.

That arrangement is not working, even it you think it should, because in the current location it cannot.

And the victims of substandard treatment and their families, as in the death of Mr. Otieno, tend by the relative numbers of patients to be Black as well.

Continue reading

School Bullying and Victimization Data: Just the Facts

by Dr. Kathleen Smith

Earlier this week on Bacon’s Rebellion, James Bacon posted “The Fruit of School Disciplinary ‘Reform.’” Regarding the matter of bullying, I am adding a few additional statistics from the Youth and Juvenile Justice System 2022 National Report from the National Center for Juvenile Justice.

The abstract embedded in the report includes the following:

The report draws on reliable data and relevant research to provide a comprehensive and insightful view of youth victims and offending by youth, and what happens to them when they enter the juvenile justice system.

It offers empirically based answers to frequently asked questions about the nature of youth victimization and offending, and the justice system’s response.
Continue reading

The More Things Remain the Same

by Joe Fitzgerald

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The Hopewell chemical plant where Kepone was born and raised has been cited 66 times over the past eight years for releasing toxic chemicals into the air and into the James River.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch tells the story better than I do. What makes this latest stream of toxins so poignant is the release this week of the book Poison Powder: The Kepone Disaster in Virginia and its Legacy, by University of Akron history professor Gregory Wilson. (From the University of Georgia Press, or from Amazon.)

Wilson’s work is an excellent history that brings alive what so many of us remember from back then. People we knew, including my brother Tom, worked and suffered at the Kepone plant in Hopewell in the mid-1970s. The James River, the cradle of American settlement, was closed to fishing. People who couldn’t spell “ppm” could tell you how many parts per million of Kepone were in their blood.

Tom died last summer, age 67, of what some medical sites call a rare type of kidney tumor that had also attached itself to his stomach and bowel and maybe a couple of organs I’ve forgotten. Kepone? Nobody will ever know for sure. But Wilson’s book makes sure everybody who wants to will know what happened in Hopewell almost 50 years ago.
Continue reading

Continuing Turmoil at Danville and Martinsville Hospitals Raises Questions of Oversight – Again

Sovah Health Danville Hospital

by James C. Sherlock

Beckers Hospital Review reports that Sovah Health hospitals in Danville and Martinsville have eliminated the Chief Operating Officer (COO) positions at both hospitals.

Sovah announced that the responsibilities of those two positions will now be absorbed by “other members of the existing team.” Whatever that may mean.

Management turmoil at Sovah is hardly a new issue. But those changes just never seem to work.

Not even a little.

The timing and structure of these current changes are especially unusual given Sovah’s plea agreement with the Food and Drug Administration that is still in force. Seems employees were dealing drugs from the hospital supply.

Similarly unusual, unfortunate actually, are the weak-to-non-existent oversight activities of the Virginia Department of Health and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

You read that right.

Sovah Danville is a teaching hospital. Continue reading

We Have a Problem and It Reflects Poorly on Prince William County

by Kristina Nohe

Go to almost any parking lot in Prince William County and invariably you will see discarded gloves and masks, littered reminders of the pandemic we all lived through.

Litter tells others what the people in a community think about where they live. If someone walked into your home and there were chip bags scattered on the floor, a week’s worth of fast food containers piled in the corner, ripped-up notebooks in the sink and a few tires sitting next to the couch, it would make an impression – and not a very good one. The same is true for our community.

Litter comes from a variety of sources. There is, of course, the irresponsible person who throws trash from a car window or drops a soda bottle along the sidewalk, but a lot of the garbage that we see strewn about comes from other sources. Unsecured items in cars and trucks easily find their way onto the side of the street; anyone who lives along Route 234 near the landfill has seen evidence of this phenomenon.

We’ve all seen overfilled trash cans and recycling bins lining neighborhood streets from which a stiff breeze can blow items out onto the road. And if it’s not the wind, it’s animals looking for food who leave a trail of wrappers in their wake. Continue reading

Crime in Virginia — the Statistics of Race and their Causes

by James C. Sherlock

Crime, especially violent crime, is a constant topic in private conversations and in public politics, and thus here on Bacon’s Rebellion.

Comments on BR crime-related articles turn quickly to race, often without basis in fact.

I will offer below the actual crime statistics by race from 2021, the latest available year, in an attempt to cure that.

Then I will write about the causes.

I will almost certainly be called a racist. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Social Breakdown Update

Every so often you might read some uplifting story in the news — a woman is rescued from a burning car, a charity raises money to buy Christmas toys for homeless tots — that makes you feel better about the world. Don’t be gulled. We live in the wealthiest society with the highest level of education and the most advanced technology the world has ever seen. Yet things are getting worse! Signs of the times pulled from today’s headlines:

Virginia sees highest number of babies born with syphilis in several decades. Reports WAVY-TV: The number of syphilis cases in Virginia has rebounded to the highest level in years.  The rate among women has surged 159% between 2013 and 2021, which drives up the rate of syphilis in newborns.  The Virginia Department of Health reported 20 cases of congenital syphilis last year, the highest number in three decades. Up to 40% are born stillborn or die from the infection. Survivors can have deformed bones, an enlarged liver, blindness or deafness.

Meanwhile, the death rate of American kids is skyrocketing. Deaths of American kids spiked 205% between 2019 and 2020, the result of increased car wrecks, shootings and drug overdoses, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. According to Virginia Commonwealth University researcher Steven Woolf , even poisonings are up. Woolf said he has not seen an increase like this in his career. “This is a red flashing light. We need to understand the causes and address them immediately to protect our children.” Motor vehicle fatalities remain the highest cause of childhood death, but homicides and suicides are catching up. Continue reading