Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 28 reorganization allowed for there to be unification of local decision making and for Program Directors to focus on broader programmatic issues. The agency’s services continue to be largely organized in this manner with the addition of two Senior Managers each of whom has supervisory responsibilities for three Regional Offices. During the late 1980’s the Commission for the Blind was renamed to the Department for the Visually Handicapped and then again in the late 1990’s to its current title, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired. The current Azalea Avenue Complex began the first phase of construction with the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired (VRCBVI), which opened its doors in 1972. VRCBVI was comprised of an administrative activities building, recreation building, dormitory and a cafeteria. The original property included a stone house which remains on the property. Initially the stone house was the home for the VRCBVI director. In 2021, the Virginia Enterprise Team moved into the newly renovated stone house. The central office was built next door to the Rehabilitation Center in 1981 relocating from the original property on Parkwood Avenue. In 1994, the Library and Resource Center (LRC) was constructed. In 2017, the Maintenance Building was the last facility built on the Azalea Avenue complex. Since 2008, all of the buildings have been renovated except for the LRC, which will be completed in the near future. In addition to the facilities on the Azalea Avenue complex, there are two other facilities owned and operated by the Agency, the Virginia Industries for the Blind (VIB) facilities in Charlottesville and in Richmond. The Charlottesville manufacturing facility is the original property purchased by the Virginia Association of Workers for the Blind that became property of the Commonwealth in the 1930’s. The Charlottesville facility was completely renovated in 2002. The Richmond VIB facility has been occupied for over fifty years and a renovation was completed in 2012. Prior to the current Richmond location, production in Richmond was at the Richmond Rehabilitation Center on St. James Street. While over the years there have been program changes, including periods of growth and reduction in staff, DBVI has remained focused on its primary mission to provide services and resources, which empower individuals who are blind, vision impaired, or deafblind to achieve their desired levels of employment, education, and personal independence. It is the intent of the Agency to continue its mission of service into the next 100 years. Jessica Collette, VCA, is Staff Assistant, Dept. for the Blind & Vision Impaired. For many Virginia nursing home residents, their lives are not happy ones. Nearly 30,000 people call Virginia’s 287 nursing home facilities home. More than 115 Virginia nursing homes are on a watch list for providing substandard care, among the highest number in the nation. During the 2022 Virginia General Assembly, a House Health, Welfare and Institutions subcommittee postponed action on a bill for at least another year that would have required nursing homes to comply with minimum hourly staffing standards. House Bill 646 would have required nursing homes to provide at least 4.1 hours of direct care per resident per day from nurses and certified nurse aides (CNAs), with at least .75 hours being provided by a registered nurse (RN). We were encouraged to hear President Biden describe in his State of the Union address new actions to ensure that residents in nursing homes will receive the safe, high-quality care they deserve. AARP urges the federal government to act swiftly to ensure minimum staffing standards, increase transparency, and hold nursing homes accountable when they do not provide quality care. The potential federal action doesn’t let Virginia lawmakers off the hook. The General Assembly has considered and declined to pass legislation creating minimum nursing home staffing for 19 consecutive years. It’s time the state holds Virginia nursing homes accountable. We were profoundly disappointed that the subcommittee postponed acting on the concerns of the hundreds of people who have called and emailed their legislators and submitted written or in-person testimony in support of this measure. The continued failure of the General Assembly to help Virginia’s most vulnerable residents and their families is even more discouraging because they rejected an opportunity at compromise that would have brought the state closer to enacting a common-sense solution overwhelmingly supported by voters in the state. In an attempt to make progress, AARP Virginia and other consumer advocates had agreed to a compromise that would have phased in the standards over 8 years. We will not give up on the residents of the state’s 287 nursing homes, many of whom are suffering from poor quality care due to understaffing. We also will fight for fair wages and benefits for the hardworking nurses and certified nurse aides who take care of the most vulnerable seniors. Nursing homes are responsible for the lives of frail seniors and adults of all ages with disabilities that prevent them from living independently. The facilities owe a duty of care to nursing home residents and their families, as well as accountability to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which provides the facilities with billions of dollars from the state Medicaid program. It is unfortunate that lawmakers postponed voting on a solution to the obvious problems in facilities caused by understaffing. Advocates have been fighting for appropriate staffing levels in nursing homes for two decades. We aren’t going away, and lawmakers will be hearing even more from us, our members, and the public in the future. House Bill 646 was introduced by Del. Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), andDel. KayeKory (D-FallsChurch) is a co-sponsor. The measure was postponed on a voice vote of the subcommittee. The members of the subcommittee are Chairman Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt), Del. Cliff Hayes Jr. (D-Chesapeake), Bobby Orrock (R-Thornburg), Del. Roxann Robinson (R-Chesterfield, Del. Kathy Tran (D-Springfield), and Del. Wendell S. Walker (R-Lynchburg). With nearly 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth. In recent years, AARP Virginia has successfully fought to expand health coverage for more Virginians, protect older people against financial exploitation and empower family caregivers. Joyce Williams is AARP Virginia State President. To learn more, visit, or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media. To learn more about AARP Virginia, like us on Facebook at and follow @AARPVa on Twitter at Lawmakers must act to protect nursing home residents By JOYCE WILLIAMS Service for Virginians who are Blind Celebrates 100 years from page 27 V V