Our View of the Legislature: COVID Issues and Reporting

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In July of 2017, lawmakers passed legislation to allow dLCV to receive serious incident reports from community providers licensed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) that provide services to individuals with disabilities across the Commonwealth.  These providers include adult and children’s private hospitals, group homes, substance abuse treatment programs, intermediate care facilities, and residential treatment providers.

Since then, dLCV has reviewed tens of thousands of reports.  We review about 100 per day.  dLCV has formed a Coalition comprised of DBHDS partners, providers, and individuals with disabilities to help address issues we’ve seen in these reports that impact the safety of individuals with disabilities living in the community.

We’ve sought reform on many issues, including accurate and consistent reporting from DBHDS-licensed providers; transportation safety, especially the issue of safe transport of individuals in wheelchairs; and lack of psychiatric beds for adolescents which has led to days-long waits in emergency rooms.  We continue to analyze all reports regarding issues with REACH; to track all instances of excessive police force and to actively monitor all instances in which an individual with an intellectual disability is admitted to a state-operated acute psychiatric hospital.  Critically, during 2020 and this year, we have used these reports to track COVID-19 outbreaks in DBHDS-licensed providers.

Tracking all COVID-19 outbreaks identified in these reports has allowed dLCV to ensure individual safety and robust provider emergency response plans across providers in Virginia.  A key trend identified in December of 2020 centered on day support programs as hubs of infection for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health support needs.  As a result, dLCV began to analyze how many infections were stemming from specific sites.  Our teams have been following up with these sites to ensure protection from harm for individuals receiving services at these locations.

There are two bills in play this year that would increase dLCV’s access to provider reports.  HB 1808, from Delegate Orrock, and SB 1154, from Senator Favola, will give dLCV access to all investigations of abuse and neglect, whether or not the allegation is substantiated.

dLCV has additionally worked to educate policymakers on legislation regarding COVID-19 that impacts Virginians with disabilities.  This session, dLCV worked with Delegate Kathy Tran and various stakeholder groups to support HB 2162, which requires every general hospital, outpatient surgical hospital, or hospice licensed by the Department of Health (DOH) to allow a person with a disability who requires assistance to be accompanied by a designated and chosen support person at any time during which health care services are provided.  This bill passed out of the House and is headed for the Senate!  dLCV has also helped advocate for Delegate Tran’s Budget Amendment #313 #15H, which provides funding for individuals enrolled in a 1915 c waiver Home and Community Based Waiver to receive personal care services in an acute care hospital setting for up to 30 days of a hospital stay.

Please continue to check back here for updates as the session proceeds, and let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following.  Contact us at info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.


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