Back row, left to right: Lou F. Rossiter, Chair, WHF Board of Trustees; S. Duke Storen, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Social Services; Rick Verilla, Director of York-Poquoson Social Services; Clarence A. Wilson, Chair, WHF Annual Awards Committee Chair and Trustee. Front Row: Rebecca Vinroot, Director, Social Services James City County; Carol L. Sale, WHF President and CEO; Wendy Evans, Director, Williamsburg Human Services.
WILLIAMSBURG – On October 30, 2019, the Williamsburg Health Foundation hosted over 150 people at its annual awards breakfast to highlight the impact of Medicaid expansion on the community. The guest speaker was Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner, S. Duke Storen. The event also gave special recognition to local Departments of Social Services for their work to enroll residents in health insurance.
“We hope the 2019 annual awards will raise awareness of the importance of the Medicaid program and its positive impact on the lives of our hard-working neighbors,” said Carol L. Sale, President and CEO of the Williamsburg Health Foundation. Sale noted that 4,200 people in the cities of Williamsburg and Poquoson and the counties of James City and York have enrolled in Medicaid since expansion.
Commissioner Storen spoke of the state-wide impact of Medicaid expansion in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance (DMAS), statistics as of September 6, 2019 show more than 314,000 individuals are newly enrolled in Medicaid; and, of those, more than 256,000 have seen a primary care provider. The number of newly enrolled individuals seen for chronic conditions include: Cancer (3,293); Diabetes (20,000); Hypertension (32,000); Serious Mental Illness (30,000); Heart Disease (11,000).
In a video featured at the breakfast, Greater Williamsburg Medicaid recipients, social workers, and healthcare executives all explained the impact of Medicaid expansion from their personal and professional perspectives.
Beth Shisler, a Williamsburg-area mom and medical aide who suffered with debilitating migraines, used her newly acquired Medicaid to see physician specialists. “I found out I was allergic to gluten and soy and yeast,” she said. With a diagnosis and maintenance medications, Shisler can now control her migraines. “I’m more capable, and so much happier,” she said.
Lynette Diaz, a social worker with James City County noted “when individuals are able to receive the care that they need, there’s less incidence of a ripple effect of other needs. What we see in our work, is that if the physical health and the mental health is being addressed it lays the foundation to be able to address things like employment and housing stability.”
Speaking about new Medicaid recipients, Mary Slade, RN, a home-visiting nurse with the City of Williamsburg pointed out that if parents have access to healthcare “feel better, they have greater energy to take care of their children. The children are sick less, the children go to school more, and they get to participate in outside activities. It just creates a more vibrant community for everyone.”
The Williamsburg Health Foundation serves the cities of Williamsburg and Poquoson and the counties of York and James City. The Foundation has a corpus of 121 million dollars and distributes an average of five million dollars annually. The Foundation also works with multiple partners to reach its vision of “individuals making healthy choices in a community with health opportunity for all.” For more information about the Williamsburg Health Foundation, visit its website at WilliamsburgHealthFoundation.org. To watch the video shared at the annual awards event, visit youtube.com/user/WburgCommunityHealth