Sentara Healthcare invested $254 million in Virginia and North Carolina communities in 2021

May 10, 2022

Community engagement and impact dollars are working to care for the uninsured and underinsured, tackle health inequities and address social determinants of health

In 2021, Sentara Healthcare invested $254 million to support Virginia and North Carolina communities, including $23 million in health education and prevention programs, $48 million in teaching and training opportunities for healthcare professionals, $16 million in community giving, and $167 million in uncompensated patient care. These investments build upon Sentara’s commitment to create healthier communities through partnerships with organizations, individuals, and their families by meeting them where they live, work, worship and learn.

Sentara committed $50 million to its Sentara Healthier Communities Fund in 2021 to address health disparities magnified by the impact of COVID-19 and to bolster regional health sciences programs. To date, Sentara has distributed more than $16 million – $2 million of which was directed by Sentara employees – to 170+ partner organizations to improve public health and reduce health inequities. These funds are working to address pressing needs identified through Sentara’s Community Health Needs Assessments, listening sessions with community and faith-based leaders, and prevailing research around social determinants of health. The remaining funding is earmarked for increasing access to care, conducting preventative health screenings and developing behavioral health services in underserved communities, capacity building of nonprofit partners and scholarships for future healthcare professionals.

“Sentara’s support for the communities we serve is about helping people to live their healthiest, most fulfilling lives,” said Howard P. Kern, president and CEO of Sentara Healthcare. “We are actively working to address health disparities and improve access – not only to needed care – but to the services and resources that will drive lasting change in our communities. We have found that partnering with other like-minded organizations and individuals helps us expand our reach into the areas that need it most.”

Sentara’s 2021 Community Engagement and Impact Report, released today, highlights the many ways in which Sentara is collaborating with community partners and faith-based leaders in Virginia and North Carolina to care for those who need it most. These initiatives aim to improve the health and well-being of community members beyond traditional healthcare services, with an elevated focus on behavioral health services, affordable housing, workforce training and career development, food security, and social determinants of health.

“We went into 2021, as we do every year, with our ears and our hearts open,” said Sherry Norquist, director of community engagement and impact at Sentara. “These initiatives are the result of us listening to what our communities are saying and using our capacity at Sentara to amplify the work of trusted and established organizations to improve more lives and inspire hope for the future.”

Sentara Community Engagement and Impact Highlights

Advancing Health Equity: Sentara partners with educational institutions to address health disparities, foster collaboration, and build a stronger pipeline of providers. Sentara recently contributed $6 million to support Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, and Eastern Virginia Medical School in the development of a school of public health. This year, Sentara provided an additional $3 million to support collaboration among the three university partners as they work to strengthen programs around health disparities and focus on critical issues such as behavioral and maternal health.

Sentara also contributed $850,000 to Hampton University in 2021 to extend care into under-resourced neighborhoods and support development of an education program designed to diversify the healthcare workforce. The gift was designated to provide nursing scholarships to help bolster and diversify the regional talent pipeline through academic and professional development initiatives, and to establish a community care mobile center – a new model of care that will bring preventative care services directly to some of our most vulnerable community members.

Sentara provides “micro-grant” funding to support community-led health equity programs developed by local organizations to improve public health. These micro-grants of up to $15,000 support initiatives that uniquely address social determinants of health within communities that have historically been socially and economically disadvantaged.

Increasing Access to Care: To address gaps in behavioral health services and lingering stressors of the pandemic, Sentara provided $200,000 to support the Virginia Health Care Foundation’s Conquering the Consequences of COVID-19 (CCC-19) initiative. This statewide effort is focused on increasing the number of behavioral health providers and expanding services for low-income and underserved Virginians. Sentara also provided $150,000 to the Virginia Veteran’s Services Foundation to assist homeless veterans and to support behavioral health initiatives, including suicide prevention.

Sentara is partnering with Tri-County Community Action Agency in South Boston to ensure better maternal health outcomes through access to prenatal and postpartum care while promoting positive, nurturing, and responsive parenting.

Fighting Food Insecurity: Sentara continues to partner with food banks across its network to fight food insecurity. In 2021, Sentara contributed $75,000 to support the Food Bank of the Albemarle in Eastern North Carolina in the expansion and construction of a teaching kitchen that will provide nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, and healthy recipes to partner agencies and clients. Sentara is also partnering with Cultivate Charlottesville to rebuild and reclaim urban spaces for embedded community gardens that can support grassroots access and education.

Additional Sentara Impact

Since the onset of the pandemic, Sentara has supported more than 550 community COVID-19 vaccination clinics, registering 30,000+ volunteer hours. The team administered nearly 200,000 vaccinations, with 43 percent of those vaccines going to minority populations. Sentara also invests in its team of more than 29,000 employees, with a $185 million investment in 2021 and more than $125 million in pay increases and enhanced benefits in 2022.

To learn more about Sentara’s commitment to the communities it serves, view Sentara’s 2021 Community Engagement and Impact Report.