Tricia Delano Re-elected Secretary to NACBH

Patricia H. Delano, President and CEO of Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services was recently re-elected Secretary of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health (NACBH).

NACBH is a national organization dedicated to enhancing the availability and delivery of services for children with emotional and behavioral disorders and their families. For over three decades, NACBH has been a force for change to help mentally ill children.  It leverages the knowledge and expertise of its members to serve as leaders to impact legislation and policy decisions regarding children’s mental issues.

With thirty-two years of experience, Ms. Delano has served as the CEO of Jackson-Feild since 2007. She has guided JFBHS through some of its most challenging times in its 161-year history especially during the COVID pandemic.  Jackson-Feild is more viable and meaningful than ever before thanks to her leadership.

Delano has helped Jackson-Feild become a major player on the national level. She is respected by her peers on the NACBH board and has rendered valuable service to its members.

Thanking Our Professors

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Time and time again, SVCC students and graduates talk about the ways instructors have contributed to their successes. With that in mind, I want to take a moment as we begin a new academic year and to publicly honor the hard work of our dedicated faculty.

Listen to Louise, who began her postsecondary education at SVCC before transferring to Longwood University. She recalls, “I had wonderful instructors who were dedicated and very nurturing in helping me decide on a career. My classes were small and, therefore, the instructors were able to provide individualized assistance when needed.”

SVCC professors also demonstrated their willingness to do whatever was necessary to maintain quality instruction when pandemic-related changes shifted many classes to online environments. Meeting needs for flexible learning situations still requires adjustments depending on requirements within individual disciplines. Our faculty members have proven themselves fit for the challenge.

Nussy experienced this first-hand. “Chemistry was a class I dreaded taking, especially taking it online. I not only maintained high marks, but I actually loved it and found it very interesting. I am so grateful I had such a helpful and patient teacher. I would recommend Dr. Smetana to anyone who has to take chemistry. Before this class, I always had a hard time with math, but Dr. Smetana found a way to make it fun, interactive, and easy to follow.”

SVCC has 138 full-time and 145 adjunct faculty members. Martha Reed, Assistant Professor of Biology, speaks for them all when she says, “Teaching at a community college as compared to a larger university gives me the opportunity to get to know my students on a more personal level.”

This type of personal connection was especially important to Chelsea, a student in SVCC’s cosmetology program. Chelsea reported, “The instructor is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but goes the extra mile to make sure I have the hands-on experience to feel confident in what I do.”

These important connections don’t end with graduation. Andrew, who currently serves as lead welder with Buckingham Branch Railroad, remembers the strong foundation he received from his welding instructor, "Mr. Braun taught me the fundamentals that I still use today as a welder.  He was instrumental in helping me decide that I had a future career in welding, and eight years later I'm still perfecting my craft."

William, who serves as a sergeant with the Virginia State Police Training Division in North Chesterfield, says, “SVCC was instrumental in helping me start a career in law enforcement. I am still in contact with several of my former professors, and I would not be where I am today without their tutelage.”

Denice, who works for VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital, likewise reports, “I was fortunate to have been taught and mentored by intelligent and passionate instructors. They were the fundamental driving force behind all that I have accomplished as a registered nurse today.”

Teachers are the life’s blood of our country’s educational system. Without hardworking and dedicated teachers, we have no future. In Southside Virginia, public and private schools at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through senior postsecondary institutions, traditionally begin a new academic year in August. Here at SVCC, our doors for the Fall 2021 semester will open on August 23. It seems a most fitting time to offer a big “Thank you!” to all teachers everywhere.
Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.

Virginia Will Provide Third Doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines for Immunocompromised People

(Richmond, Va.) — Today the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that Virginia will make third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines available for moderately and severely immunocompromised Virginians, starting as early as August 14. This move comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its vaccination guidelines to recommend third mRNA doses for people who have significantly compromised immune systems. Vaccines are readily available throughout Virginia, and vaccine providers are expected to make third doses available over the next several days as they adapt their processes.

“This is important additional protection for people who have impaired immune systems,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “As COVID-19 cases rise across Virginia and the country, everyone who is eligible should get appropriately vaccinated as soon as they can.”

The CDC’s move is the final step in the authorization process for third doses of the mRNA vaccines for some eligible populations. Studies have shown that people with a compromised immune system can have a weak response to the standard vaccine regimen, and that a third dose is needed to strengthen immunity in these persons and protect them from serious COVID-19 complications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluated those studies and recommended the change to the CDC on Thursday.

Only Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, and therefore the FDA has not recommended additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Additionally, the FDA has not recommended booster vaccines for the general public. Those immunocompromised who have already received two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech should wait at least 28 days after their second dose before receiving their third dose.  The third dose should be the same manufacturer as the previous two doses when possible, but this is not required.

This EUA expansion is estimated to  include approximately 3% of people in the United States. Immunocompromised persons are those whose immune mechanisms are deficient because of certain immunologic disorders or immunosuppressive therapy.  As of today, approximately 4,144,080 Virginians have received two doses of an mRNA vaccine and approximately 124,322, or 3% of these Virginians, may be immunocompromised and therefore be eligible to receive a third dose. Individuals with questions about whether they are significantly immunocompromised should consult their healthcare providers.

While available evidence shows that a third dose provides a modest benefit to improving the immune response to mRNA vaccination, it is important to remember that immunocompromised persons might still not have a strong level of protection against COVID-19, even after receiving a third dose of vaccine. Additional COVID-19 precautions remain important for this population. These include wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance from others outside of the home, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider.

Persons who are significantly immunocompromised should also discuss the possibility of monoclonal antibody treatment options with their healthcare provider in case they get infected with or are exposed to COVID-19. Household members and other close contacts of significantly immunocompromised persons should get fully vaccinated to provide increased protection to their loved ones.

VDH, physicians and healthcare workers, and vaccine providers across the Commonwealth stand ready to assist this vulnerable population to obtain the added protection a third vaccine dose will provide against COVID-19.  Just like previous EUA authorizations and CDC ACIP approvals, additional clinical considerations have been published that provide more detailed guidance. These clinical considerations will provide necessary guidance to assist COVID-19 providers in implementing these new  recommendations. In Virginia, providers may begin administration of third mRNA doses for this vulnerable population across the Commonwealth in accordance with these clinical considerations.

For more information on COVID-19 in Virginia, visit vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus. Anyone age 12 or older can find free vaccination clinics near them by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).

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