Reflecting on the year that was with RHHD Director Dr. Elaine Perry

Hello, neighbors and friends, and welcome back to the RHHD weekly newsletter! If you’re like me, you’ve spent some time in January considering what lessons from 2023 might come with you into 2024. Here at RHHD, our reflections are guided by our mission statement, our vision for our region, and our core values, which we revised early last year:

  • MISSION: Protect health, champion equity, and partner to address local needs.
  • VISION: Thriving communities supporting health for all.
  • VALUES: Integrity, collaboration, equity, data-informed, innovative, strategic.

Our mission, vision, and values shaped RHHD’s approach to 2023, a year of transitions, challenges, and new beginnings.

  • In March, the FDA approved Narcan—a brand name for the opioid reversal agent naloxone—for over-the-counter use. Not needing a prescription for Narcan means that more residents can access this live-saving substance. RHHD’s remarkable Opioid Response team and Community Health Workers offer trainings to prepare our communities against overdoses.
  • On May 11, the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration came to an end. RHHD adjusted our services to ensure that residents would still have access to vaccines, resources, and reliable health information, especially after the arrival of this year’s updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine in the fall. You can still get information about COVID vaccines and testing by visiting or calling 804-205-3501.
  • In June, we grieved with the families of Huguenot High School following the fatal post-graduation shooting outside the Altria Theater and reaffirmed our commitment to a city free of gun violence as an integral part of public health. We continue to mourn with and support those who lost loved ones to gun violence across our region in 2024, particularly through our work with the Trauma Healing Response Network.
  • Throughout the summer, smoke from Canadian wildfires reached our communities in unprecedented ways, reminding us all about the importance of monitoring air quality and protecting respiratory health.
  • In August, the Flying Squirrels hosted the first ever “Knock One Out of the Park for Breastfeeding,” a night of baseball that highlighted the health and social benefits of breastfeeding for babies and parents. The night celebrated the work that RHHD’s WIC team and other community partners do to foster support for maternal and child health, particularly for Black mothers overrepresented in maternal mortality rates and underrepresented in breastfeeding support.
  • Thanks to effective partnerships with RPS, HCPS, and medical providers, RHHD spearheaded successful back-to-school vaccination efforts, including sports physicals. We also launched a School Health Hub to make sure that important health information is just a click away for all students and their caregivers!
  • In December, VDH launched a syphilis website and dashboard designed to address rising STI case numbers in the commonwealth. HIV/STI prevention and treatment are critical components of RHHD’s work. If you need information about testing or beginning preventative measures like PrEP, visit our website or call 804-205-3501.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the Richmond and Henrico Public Health Foundation—RHHD’s non-profit arm—which spent 2023 supporting the work of essential community partners through the Health Equity Fund.

2023 was an eventful year for public health, and I have no doubt that 2024 will be so, too. Our mission, vision, and values orient RHHD toward what matters most—our connections to the community, a hope for a region where all live healthy and full lives—so that we’re prepared to take on whatever comes next. We look forward to being in community with and of service to you in this year ahead!

-Dr. Elaine Perry