This week I discuss two recent conferences, talk about ways you can help the community this Thanksgiving season, and reflect on Transgender Remembrance Day. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and staying informed about the current happenings around Virginia Senate District 10.
Conference on Chronic Kidney Disease
Last Thursday, I hosted a virtual conference with the National Kidney Foundation to discuss chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its impacts on Virginians and our healthcare systems. This conference brought together several experts who provided amazing insights on the causes and concerns of CKD, what it is like to face the fatal consequences of CKD and regain quality of life through kidney transplant, and how in-home and mobile dialysis options are available across the Commonwealth.
Almost 1,000,000 adults in Virginia are living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), but 850,000 remain undiagnosed. Even more alarming, more Virginians will die of complications from CKD than will have the privilege of receiving treatment for kidney disease. Significant disparities exist in CKD, with communities of color disproportionately impacted by kidney disease and its many impacts.
People most at risk for CKD are those living with diabetes and hypertension, yet routine testing to detect and diagnose CKD is very low, with only 15.4% being tested annually in Virginia. Delays in diagnosis and referral for specialty care contribute to high rates of mortality and utilization of in-center dialysis treatment and limit the use of more effective therapies such as kidney transplant or use of home dialysis modalities.
I will be introducing legislation this General Assembly Session to improve access and opportunities for individuals with CKD. This legislation will also help to address the high costs that undiagnosed CKD has on our healthcare and hospital systems.
Thank you to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) for their exceptional work in collaborating on this project, and special thanks to all of our presenters: Elizabeth Montgomery (NKF), Dr. Tushar Chopra (UVA), Manish Agarwal, and Dr. Amal Agarwal (Humana). If you were not able to participate in the virtual conference, you can watch the recording.
“Less Debt, More Degrees” Panel at NCSL
Earlier in November, I attended the National Conference of State Legislatures and was honored to join a panel with Dr. James Kvaal, Under Secretary for Education in the Biden Administration, to discuss ways in which the federal government might be a more effective partner with state governments in supporting higher education.
In particular, we examined how the burden of student debt impacts the lives of students and their families. Reducing student debt through more effective financial aid packages, expanded Pell grants, and tuition-free community colleges are some of the proposals that we discussed.
The Holiday Season
There are many opportunities to get involved and serve our community this holiday season. If you are able to donate your time or make a financial contribution, a number of organizations across Senate District 10 can certainly benefit from your assistance. Here are a few sites that may help you identify ways to volunteer or donate:
It’s also important to acknowledge that this holiday season comes at a challenging time for many in our community. Know that there are resources to help you during difficult times and year-round:
The Virginia Rent Relief Program provides financial assistance for rent payments to eligible applicants. You can learn more about the RMRP and apply to the program online here.
211 Virginia is a resource that helps connect you with resources in your area. These resources include rental assistance, heating assistance, access to food, and other services. You can access this service by calling 2-1-1, or by visiting their website here.
Food assistance can be found in your area using the Feed More agency locator here.
Free and low-cost healthcare assistance can be accessed at the Free Clinic of Powhatan. For City of Richmond and Chesterfield County residents, clinic information can be accessed here.
I encourage you to share either the volunteer resources or aid resources with those you know so that we can spread the word.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
This Saturday, we commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance where we mourn the lives lost to anti-transgender violence and continue to fight for justice for transgender people across the Commonwealth and across our nation. More information on the history of Transgender Day of Remembrance can be found on the GLAAD website.
I continue to have one-on-one meetings with constituents and organizations. If you want to schedule a meeting, on Zoom or in person, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. As a reminder, email is the best way to contact us. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also schedule a meeting through our easy scheduling app.