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Sun Gazette: Governor Issues Executive Order to Address Heart Issues in Newborns Print


Created:  Thursday, April 26, 2012 4:00PM

Gov. McDonnell proved true to his word, issuing an executive order as promised to address the screening of newborns for potential life-threatening medical conditions.

The executive order came after McDonnell vetoed legislation patroned by Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th) that would have set up a task force to facilitate the screening of all Virginia newborns for congenital heart disease.

Hope's legislation passed by large margins in both houses of the legislature, but was vetoed by McDonnell. In his veto message, the governor said the same result could be achieved administratively rather than by setting up a mandated task force.

With the assurance that the governor would move forward, Hope dropped the matter and the House of Delegates acquiesced to the veto.

Currently, about two-thirds of Virginia newborns are screened for critical congenital heart disease, which can result in abnormal blood flow and oxygen deprivation. About 3.7 of every 1,000 Virginia babies are diagnosed with one of the defects that cause congenital heart disease.

The executive order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to convene a work group that will assist the Virginia Department of Health in addressing the issue, and apply for federal funding to support it.

The governor's order directs the group to report back to him by Dec. 1, and to provide copies of the report to legislative leaders.