sentara cares dark blue


What it means to care

Fighting unprecedented challenges and long-standing inequities through an unwavering commitment to the communities we serve.

Download the Impact report
Download the Impact report
Howard Kern

Our True Calling

A deep commitment to the communities we serve has long been a part of Sentara’s DNA — and never has this commitment been more vital than in the past year and a half.

In the face of an unprecedented pandemic, we turned first to protecting our residents from this devastating virus. But we recognized from the beginning that this pandemic was more than a healthcare crisis. Indeed, it has both exacerbated and heightened awareness of the social, economic, and health inequities that have persisted for far too long in our communities.

Fighting these inequities is at the heart of Sentara Cares, and as you’ll read below and elsewhere throughout this site, we continue to make lasting impacts in every community we serve through intimate partnerships and catalytic philanthropy.

As you scroll through the following highlights of our past year, or as you take time to download and read our full print report, I hope you’ll feel inspired and welcomed to join us. And to those we’re already blessed to count as partners, thank you!

Howard P. Kern
President & CEO
Sentara Healthcare

By the Numbers

In 2020, Sentara invested nearly $256 Million in our communities.


Health and Prevention Programs


Teaching and Training of Healthcare Professionals


Philanthropic Giving


Uncompensated Patient Care

Meeting the Moment

As a nation, as communities, and as individuals, we’ve never navigated a year like 2020. But on the strength of our community partnerships, the tireless efforts of our team members, and an unflinching resolve to ensure the safety and well-being of all who call our communities home, we’ve weathered the worst and emerged stronger, together.

keeping our communities safe

Keeping Our Communities Safe

From the earliest stages of this pandemic, our communities have looked to us to keep them safe first and foremost, and we continue to answer that call through advanced testing and vaccination efforts.

By April of 2020, we had firmly established our in-house testing capability, and, within months, we were conducting more than 1,200 tests a day. On the strength of that capacity, we became one of only three health systems in the Commonwealth to join Virginia’s OneLab Network to increase statewide testing capabilities, which has allowed us to complete an additional 1,000 daily tests.

However, having testing capacity is one thing. Ensuring those tests and, now, vaccines get to the people who need them most is another. By leveraging our partnerships with nonprofit and faith-based organizations in our communities, we continue to stand up vital testing capabilities and vaccination clinics to ensure traditionally underserved communities and those at greatest risk have access.


Our robust testing capacity and vaccination efforts have helped ensure the safety of vital frontline workers and enabled health officials to better monitor spread, mitigate risk, and target resources.

Here is a brief look at our efforts to keep our communities safe in 2020:

More than 150,000 total tests conducted

1,200 tests conducted daily, with 24- to 48-hour turnaround

212,000 telehealth and virtual visits conducted

338,000 pieces of personal protective donated to local businesses, organizations, and community members

We are grateful to our dedicated staff who have been organizing clinics in all regions to vaccinate thousands of our patients and community members, preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Our tremendous partnerships with health districts, municipalities,and community organizations has contributed to the ongoing success of our vaccination efforts.”

– Mary Morin, Sentara COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Lead and Vice President of Sentara Healthcare

keeping our communities safe

Keeping Our Communities Safe

keeping our communities involved

Keeping Our Communities Informed and Assured

As cases and confusion mounted in March 2020, we launched our COVID-19 Call Center to provide a forum for concerned citizens and patients to access up-to-date information and receive guidance. In addition, throughout all of our service areas, Sentara has remained a fixture at town hall events with government and elected officials, and we continue to conduct monthly calls with faith-based leaders to provide up-to-date information and answer community questions.

We understand, however, that Sentara’s voice isn’t the only voice our communities need to hear. That’s why we devoted ourselves to telling the real stories of COVID-19 through a public service advertisement initiative spearheaded at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. These video messages featured six diverse COVID-19 patients from the community sharing their personal stories. Supported with funding from the Martha Jefferson Hospital’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, these videos were viewed more than 262,000 times from September to December 2020.

Through this initiative and a commitment to sharing testimonials from those who have been impacted by the disease, Sentara has worked not only to inform but also build trust.

PICTURED ABOVE: Wanda Bailey Smith was one of many community members served by Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital who graciously shared their personal battles with COVID-19 in an effort to spread awareness and protect their neighbors.

keeping our communities involved

Keeping Our Communities Informed and Assured

pivoting vital resources

Pivoting Vital Resources

As we all made the leap from in-person to virtual, preserving as much personal touch as possible became paramount — and nowhere is personal touch more important than with expecting parents.

Pandemic aside, the experience of preparing for birth and taking a child home, especially for first timers, is fraught with uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. Add a devastating virus whose impacts on pregnant mothers and newborns were widely unknown, and those already existing fears threatened to become paralyzing.

To ensure expecting parents had access to the services and information they needed, Optima Health and Virginia Premier, Sentara’s healthcare plan subsidiaries, pivoted its Baby Shower program to a virtual platform. There, our guest speakers and activities could educate women and their partners about having a healthy pregnancy and delivery, as well as connect them with services they may need, even the face of great uncertainty.

PICTURED ABOVE: Courtney Seaborne, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist at Optima Health, served as the organizer and event host for Optima’s first virtual baby shower event — which Optima and Virginia Premier continue to host regionally and sub-regionally on a quarterly basis.

pivoting vital resources

Pivoting Vital Resources

addressing food insecurity

Addressing Unprecedented Food Insecurity

As one of the root factors of health disparities, we pledged to fight food insecurity from the earliest planning stages of the Sentara Cares program. This commitment was immediately put to the test when the COVID-19 pandemic quickly doubled the number of those facing food insecurity in Virginia.

We needed to act quickly, and because we had already laid substantial groundwork in the fight against hunger through Sentara Cares prior to the pandemic, we stood poised to mobilize the resources we needed.

In partnership with Truist, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, and many other community-minded companies, Sentara spearheaded the “We Care” COVID-19 Virginia Emergency Food Support Plan. This initiative centered on providing five-day, shelf-stable food supply boxes containing 15 nutritious meals that could be more easily and safely assembled and distributed at the height of the pandemic.


The Need


Roughly 843,000 Virginians experienced food insecurity, including 233,530 children.

(Source: Feeding America)

From February through June 2020:

Food insecurity in Virginia more than doubled — from 9 to 22 percent.

(Source: Northwestern Institute for Policy)


447,000 more Virginians are projected to face food insecurity as a result of the pandemic.

(Source: Feeding America)


The Impact

Approximately 200,000 20-pound, five-day supply food boxes have been distributed through Sentara’s  “We Care” COVID-19 Virginia Emergency Food Support Plan.

“The ‘We Care’ initiative was a game-changer,” says Eddie Oliver, President of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks. “It allowed us to safely manage and meet unprecedented demand while also showcasing Sentara’s pivotal role in fighting food insecurity through innovative solutions.”

“As a human crisis, not just a healthcare crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the broader Social Determinants of Health — food security chief among them. No one should have to worry about where their next meal will come from, and the ‘We Care’ initiative is a poignant reminder that there’s help and there’s hope.”

– The Honorable Ralph S. Northam, Governor of Virginia

PICTURED ABOVE: In early August, Sentara volunteers were joined by volunteers from Truist and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam at Feed More in Richmond, Va. for a “We Care” packing event, where they assembled food boxes to serve their community. The event in Richmond (pictured here) was one of several “We Care” packing events that Sentara leaders and volunteers helped to organize throughout 2020.

addressing food insecurity

Addressing Unprecedented Food Insecurity

Addressing Root Factors

Our ability to affect lasting change in our communities hinges on our understanding that the direct care we provide addresses only a fraction of what we need to live our healthiest, most fulfilling lives. That’s why we actively partner with organizations and support initiatives to holistically advance our communities in a variety of areas to improve where we live, work, learn, play, worship, and age.

“Not only are we being focused and intentional about addressing health disparities and inequities, we’re also being vocal and calling attention to them. In the end, Sentara Cares is about providing the resources people need to live their happiest, most fulfilling lives, and our work won’t stop until everyone has those resources.”

Iris Lundy, Director of Health Equity

dad holding daugters hand in front of house

Accelerating Affordable Housing

For housing to be considered “affordable,” it should account for no more than 30 percent of a household’s monthly income, yet many residents in our service areas devote far more.

For example, in Hampton Roads in 2017, 52 percent of all rental households were rent burdened, according to the National Equity Atlas. And this burden too often forces people to choose between keeping a roof over their heads and keeping the lights on, or filling an essential prescription, or paying for childcare.

Excessive rent burden and threat of eviction perpetuates the socioeconomic and health inequities we’re called to address. Breaking that cycle is one of the driving forces behind Sentara’s partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

Through a combined $90 million in investment capital, Sentara and LISC will enable community development organizations like
the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation (VBCDC) to purchase and preserve existing properties, as well as build additional subsidized units to strengthen the community’s affordable housing stock. In addition, this investment will allow Sentara and LISC to incentivize private affordable housing development through low-interest loans and grants.

But supporting affordable housing isn’t just about building more. It’s about establishing support services around existing communities.

To that end, Virginia Premier, one of Sentara’s healthcare plan subsidiaries jointly owned by Sentara Healthcare and VCU Health System, continues to support the City of Richmond and the Richmond Police Department as they work to improve public health and safety in the city’s Gilpin Court public housing community though a variety of resident-centric programs. Virginia Premier employees are working closely with community service organizations to identify pressing neighborhood needs and to develop solutions in a mutual partnership.

“Eviction is so much more than just the loss of one’s home. It puts families at risk and makes it that much more difficult to gain your next foothold. The need for more affordable housing units is great, and it will be critical for us to integrate that housing into our communities and surround it with supportive services. That’s a vision we share with Sentara.”

Jessica Guglielmo, President and CEO,
Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation

dad holding daugters hand in front of house

Accelerating Affordable Housing


Serving Our Most Vulnerable Populations

While we’re proud of our investments to advance affordable housing initiatives, we’re acutely and painfully aware that too many call our communities home without having an address to list. In fact, on any given night pre-pandemic, there were 5,975 homeless individuals in Virginia, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. That number is climbing as a result of COVID-19, and we’re working to combat that increase through a variety of new and long-standing partnerships.

Healthy Hotel Project

Thanks to our partnership with the Norfolk Community Services Board (NCSB), Sentara’s medical group and home care division have been able to help the organization safely leverage hotel rooms converted into a safe and supportive shelter program. Through the Healthy Hotel Project, NCSB is providing temporary shelter for Norfolk’s most vulnerable homeless residents, while Sentara provides preventive screening, support, and chronic disease management services.

Strength in Peers

This project will serve as a pilot to assess whether providing temporary housing for high-risk homeless individuals following a period of hospitalization at Sentara RMH Medical Center will improve outcomes. Participants will receive hotel vouchers for up to four weeks, providing a safe and healthy environment to recover that does not require them to leave during the day as emergency shelters do.

The HELP Clinic

This free clinic in Hampton opened a single site shelter for the homeless with COVID safeguards. Sentara Careplex case managers are working with the HELP Clinic to ensure homeless individuals have access to these thermal shelters, where they can link the clients to more permanent housing solutions.

The Samaritan House

A shelter for victims of violence in Virginia Beach, the Samaritan House integrated a comprehensive substance abuse intervention and relapse prevention program into its current service model as result of its partnership with Sentara.

Do Something in Halifax

Sentara’s support has helped enable this organization to purchase and upgrade a transition center for homeless individuals in South Boston.

Suitcase Clinic

This collaboration among James Madison University and other community partners, including the RMH Foundation, works to overcome barriers to healthcare in the Harrisonburg community. Importantly, it supports health and wellness among the region’s homeless population through mobile health services.

Homeless Veteran Fund

As part of the Virginia Veterans and Family Support Program, this initiative aims to identify and help those in the process of finding suitable housing. This program provides help with rental move-in expenses (e.g., deposits, first month’s rent, application and hook-up fees), as well as ongoing rent and utility assistance, emergency housing support, and assistance with logistical barriers to housing (e.g., obtaining proper ID and birth certificate records).

“Everyone should have access to a safe environment where they feel taken care of. Our homeless populations are some of our most medically vulnerable, so connecting them with shelter and health support services, even temporarily, can serve as an all-important first step toward a more secure future.”

Sarah Paige Fuller, Executive Director,
Norfolk Community Services Board

PICTURED ABOVE: A volunteer packs lunches for homeless residents staying in unrented rooms as part of the Healthy Hotel Project — a partnership between Sentara and the Norfolk Community Services Board. .


Serving Our Most Vulnerable Populations

man at job fair

Building Better Careers and Financial Stability

Stable, rewarding employment is a hallmark of a healthy and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has cast doubt on the future job prospects of many. Problems of this magnitude require a strong response, and Sentara is committed to helping upskill members of our communities, strengthen workforce development pipelines, and build better financial support systems.

  • Taken together, the following initiatives represent enhanced opportunities for long-term wealth-building that can change lives, families, and entire communities for generations:
  • Sentara actively partners with the Hampton Roads Workforce Council (a nonprofit dedicated to administering workforce development programs), VA Ready (a nonprofit which aims to reduce the financial barriers to continuing education), the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), and the VCCS FastForward Workforce Credential Program. Through these partnerships, Sentara continues to support and re-equip workers for new roles in the Hampton Roads region’s high-growth sectors.
  • Sentara Healthcare, Optima Health, and the Educational Credit Management Corporation Foundation have invested $450,000 to develop a healthcare pathways pilot program, whereby community college students can earn credentials to land higher paying healthcare jobs.
  • Sentara is supporting the development of two Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) in partnership with the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) — one in south Hampton Roads and one on the Peninsula. Here, individuals receive financial coaching to sharpen their budget management skills, learn how to access social benefits programs for which they may qualify, and gain access to training programs for skilled careers and higher paying jobs. Each year, this model will serve 140 individuals in a cohort-style environment, where not only will they receive the benefits of personalized coaching and encouragement but also the camaraderie of sharing the experience with others in their community.
  • Sentara continues to support the Network2Work Initiative at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, which is committed to helping residents secure well-paying jobs in healthcare and establish self-sufficiency through access to wraparound services such as career counseling, transportation alternatives, childcare, and, most importantly, job skills training. To support this partnership, the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation has secured a gift of $300,000 to aid 30 students entering certification training programs each year for the next three years.

“This is one of those rare opportunities to improve lives on a very personal level while also supporting the economic development and advancement of entire communities, as a higher skilled workforce allows us to better attract and retain businesses while also supporting targeted growth.”

Shawn Avery, President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council

PICTURED ABOVE: Sentara’s active support of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council helps to strengthen events like the NextGen Pathways Opportunity Fair (pictured above) and the Hampton Roads Career Guidance Academy, which is a three-day program designed to give an inside look at in-demand careers and help provide educators and guidance counselors with a blueprint on how to best prepare the emerging workforce. (Photo courtesy of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council).

man at job fair

Building Better Careers and Financial Stability

volunteer at food bank

Fighting Hunger Every Day

Though Sentara has been able to marshal unprecedented levels of support to address critical food insecurity needs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight against hunger is ongoing. As a partner in that fight, we have renewed our commitment to a variety of long-standing and ongoing programs beyond the “We Care” COVID-19 Virginia Emergency Food Support Plan.

As a long-standing sponsor of Share Our Strength’s
“No Kid Hungry Virginia” campaign, we help the organization fight to end childhood hunger across the Commonwealth by increasing access to federal nutrition programs for school breakfasts, summer meals, and after-school meals.

In Eastern North Carolina, we continue to partner with the Food Bank of the Albemarle to offer our “Food Rx” program, which provides food insecure patients diagnosed with heart failure or diabetes a food box “prescription” containing tailored items and resources to mitigate those conditions, which disproportionately affect traditionally underserved communities. As a result, readmission rates for heart failure patients treated at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center have dropped from 11.2 percent in 2018 to 9.2 in 2020, and 4.1 percent to 2.5 percent for diabetes patients over the same timeframe.

In the City of Charlottesville and surrounding communities, the Sentara Starr Hill Health Center is working to increase food access by partnering with the Local Food Hub’s Fresh Farmacy Program and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to distribute thousands of pounds of fresh produce and nonperishable food. And in Southern Virginia, we’re working to grow our own food through the Healthy Harvest Community Garden located in Edmunds Park in Halifax, which we distribute to low-income individuals residing in food deserts, Virginia Cooperative Extension cooking classes, and the Serving Hope Food Pantry.

Finally, in 2019, Optima Health, one of Sentara’s health plans, expanded its fight for greater food security by offering a healthy food discount program, called HealthySavings®, for all members enrolled in its Optima Family Care Plan. HealthySavings provides monthly discounts on nutritious food products that rank in the healthiest one-third of foods typically found in a grocery store.

volunteer at food bank

Fighting Hunger Every Day

painting of state of virginia

Boosting Behavioral Health Services

Statewide Efforts

Even prior to the pandemic, a lack of access to behavioral health services was one of the top challenges our communities faced. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on this essential service delivery, as residents battle prolonged social isolation, economic instability, and related trauma from this crisis in ways we’re only beginning to understand.

Sentara has worked with the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) since its founding in 1992 to support the training and development of behavioral health professionals. Now, to help meet this critical need, Sentara has pledged $200,000 to the VHCF’s Conquering the Consequences of COVID-19 (CCC-19) initiative, which will fund the establishment and expansion of behavioral health services in the health care safety net. This support will also provide continued investment in training behavioral health professionals.

“The stresses and trauma many Virginians are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 have been substantial and will likely be long-lasting. In addition, they have exacerbated the pre-pandemic problem of a significant shortage of mental health services, and this shortage can’t be addressed with a vaccine. With Sentara’s partnership and support, however, we are making behavioral health services available in communities throughout the Commonwealth with a number of initiatives designed to ensure mental health and well­-being.”

Deborah Oswalt, Executive Director,
Virginia Health Care Foundation

Local, targeted initiatives

While VHCF’s approach will help address statewide need, Sentara and its partners in Charlottesville are envisioning a collaborative, connected approach through its novel “Health Mall” concept. This approach will allow for multiple wellness services to be housed under one physical location for those at risk of, or living with, chronic diseases — with a focus on overall wellness including behavioral health. Specifically aimed at reducing disparities among minority populations, a core group of Black clinicians and organizations was formed to develop the concept, including the Central Virginia Clinicians of Color, Birth Sisters of Charlottesville, Brave Souls on Fire, and Reimagine Mental Health Services. The concept includes holistic health, support of Black-owned businesses, fitness opportunities, food access, and social support.

In addition, the Community Services Board at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital provides therapists to lead quarterly crisis intervention team training with law enforcement leaders in the region. And Sentara Albemarle Medical Center and Sentara Medical Group have partnered with the Perquimans School District in Eastern North Carolina to provide resources to help local teachers better understand and identify trauma and implement strategies to connect with and support students who may be struggling on a behavioral health level.

Responding to Tragedy

While COVID-19 will undoubtedly present long-standing behavioral health challenges to address, Sentara is also there to help when unspeakable tragedy occurs in our communities, such as in the aftermath of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center shooting in late May of 2019. To address the needs of residents, city workers, and first responders affected by the mass tragedy, Sentara and the City of Virginia Beach established the VB Strong Center to provide behavioral health services free of charge.

PICTURED ABOVE: During open house events at the VB Strong Center, families, loved ones, and community members who were impacted by the Virginia Beach Municipal Center tragedy were asked to “Leave their Mark.” The grace and beauty with which they did so remains a testament to their strength and an enduring piece of art for all who visit to this day.

painting of state of virginia

Boosting Behavioral Health Services

Empowering Our Partners

Every community we serve throughout Virginia and Eastern North Carolina has its own unique vibe and spirit. To address disparities impacting each and to drive lasting outcomes for those who call these communities home, we actively tap into existing networks and elevate the important missions and work of partner organizations who know their communities best.

group photo with partners

Listening to Our Partners

Every community we serve throughout Virginia and Eastern North Carolina has its own unique vibe and spirit. To address disparities impacting each and to drive lasting outcomes for those who call these communities home, we must tap into existing networks and elevate the important missions and work of partner organizations who know their communities best.

“This is the very definition of grassroots. It’s about honoring the trust our communities have in their leaders and partnering with them to develop solutions together,” says Dana Beckton, Chief Diversity Officer. “That’s the only way we can ensure we’re meeting our communities where they are and addressing their evolving needs.”

That’s why we support organizations like the Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Hampton Roads or Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) in Northern Virginia’s Greater Prince William area.

In 2019, to celebrate ACTS’ 50-year anniversary, Sentara offered a $50,000 matching fund challenge grant to support its Hunger Prevention Center. In addition, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center partners with the organization on a variety of initiatives. For example, the hospital serves ACTS’ Beverly Warren Shelter through its mobile van twice a week and works with ACTS to provide support for the organization’s sexual assault programs by offering referrals and training for ACTS’ staff and volunteers.

Partnering in the Face of a Pandemic

In the immediate aftermath of COVID-19’s spread, as healthcare providers around the nation faced PPE shortages and a lack of beds, we knew we needed to be proactive, and we knew we had the partners to help. We immediately connected with several local companies to procure, repurpose, and even manufacture what we needed close to home, including Cupron Inc. and London Bridge Training Company for masks, and Leesa for mattresses.

We also established the Sentara COVID-19 Community Relief Fund, which to date has collected and distributed $705,000 in community charitable donations to provide critical resources and services.

PICTURED ABOVE: Since 2015, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center has been a proud partner with Action in Community Through Service (ACTS), which provides a wide range of relief services and supports self-sufficiency in the Prince William area. In addition to helping to sponsor ACTS’ annual fundraising event — iWalk for ACTS — Sentara recruits a team to participate in the 5K and participates in the post 5K community Family Fun Festival, where volunteers with the Sentara Family Health Connection mobile clinic provide free blood pressure screenings and educational materials. In 2020, the event transitioned to a virtual 5K.

group photo with partners

Listening to Our Partners

woman holding printouts in multiple languages

Connecting Partners to Ensure More Equitable Service Delivery

Our ability to make true and lasting inroads into underserved communities sometimes means being the grease, not the wheel. In that spirit, in January 2021, Sentara announced a $10 million investment to help ensure widespread service delivery through the Sentara Healthier Communities Fund. This investment will seek to:

  • Create and enhance the capabilities of partner universities to directly impact and improve public health and health equity in underserved communities.
  • Promote and enhance the collaboration between Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, and Eastern Virginia Medical School.
  • Support community organizations working to improve public health and address health inequities.
  • Support efforts to establish a School of Public Health in Hampton Roads, critical to ensuring the vitality of public health services in the region.
  • Promote long-term sustainability and continuity of public health and health equity activities and programs.

Ensuring equitable service delivery hinges on communication. Here, Patient Advocate Rachel Fobbs, SNGH, displays multi-language visual communication tools and devices used to help patients who are hearing impaired, or are not proficient English speakers, communicate with their care teams. These tools are used at all Sentara hospitals to ensure equitable care delivery.


University Grants
$2 million each to Old Dominion University (ODU) and Norfolk State University (NSU) to help develop a School of Public Health.

Collaborative Grants
Up to $3 million in support for joint efforts between ODU, EVMS, and NSU to address public health and health inequities in underserved communities.

Community Grants
Up to $3 million in support for community service entities who are working to address public health and health inequities in underserved communities within Hampton Roads that fall beyond the footprints of ODU, NSU, or EVMS.

PICTURED ABOVE: Ensuring equitable service delivery hinges on communication. Here, Patient Advocate Rachel Fobbs, SNGH, displays multi-language visual communication tools and devices used to help patients who are hearing impaired, or are not proficient English speakers, communicate with their care teams. These tools are used at all Sentara hospitals to ensure equitable care delivery.

woman holding printouts in multiple languages

Connecting Partners to Ensure More Equitable Service Delivery

doctor speaking with family member

Listening to Our Patients and Families

Before we even broke ground on what would become the Sentara Brock Cancer Center, we knew we needed to listen to our patients, families, and caregivers first.

A cancer diagnosis is one of the most devastating pieces of news for a patient, and while we’ve always stood ready to deliver state-of-the-art treatment with compassion, we wanted the design and function of our cancer center to truly reflect what our patients, families, caregivers, and community members felt it should be.

As a result, our Brock Cancer Center offers a holistic care experience where all diagnostic, treatment, and support services are housed under one roof to reduce the stress of shuffling to various specialty doctors and appointments in separate locations. Some of the many other Brock Cancer Center features include:

  • A calming environment that includes an outdoor Healing Garden and quiet family workstations for caregivers as they assist their loved ones at appointments
  • Support services for advanced illnesses, including Sentara’s first outpatient palliative care clinic in the Hampton Roads community
  • Complementary alternative medicine therapies, such as massage, art and music therapy
  • The Silhouette Mastectomy Boutique — a retail shop for wig services, headwear, and mastectomy products
  • A rehabilitation gym with two certified lymphedema therapists and fitness classes led by a certified cancer exercise specialist
  • An interdisciplinary care team composed of partnering experts from Virginia Oncology Associates, Eastern Virginia Medical School Medical Group, and other community providers

“I heard that dreaded phrase, ‘You have cancer,’ so I know how vital it is to have a comprehensive solution that treats the whole person as well as the disease. I relied upon an advanced clinical team to get me through survivorship. Now, everyone in our community will have access to our region’s community cancer partners in one location right here at home.”

Joan Brock, Philanthropist and Brock Cancer Center Namesake

doctor speaking with family member

Listening to Our Patients and Families

nurse in training

Supporting the Next Generation of Healthcare Leaders

Part of meeting the evolving needs of communities and extending service delivery to traditionally underserved populations means ensuring the next generation of care providers share our community-centered vision and have access to state-of-the-art educational resources.

Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) has been one of our closest partners in that regard, and we’ve supported each other’s missions and bolstered both patient care and healthcare workforce training in Hampton Roads for nearly 50 years. Now, with our $130 million, five-year renewal of our commitment to EVMS, we will continue to help one of our strongest partners advance medicine through new discovery, establish new academic programs, recruit leading experts to serve as faculty, and, ultimately, provide a greater level of care in the community.

But while EVMS may be our most long-standing partner, we’re committed to supporting the training of future healthcare leaders throughout our service area.

In Northern Virginia, for example, Sentara has contributed nearly $400,000 in the past 15 years to support the nursing educational programs and ensure more nursing graduates from George Mason University, Marymount University, Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), and Shenandoah University’s Leesburg Campus. Similarly, Sentara has consistently invested in NVCC, which has enabled the college to hire faculty for one of the few diagnostic medical sonography educational programs in the Northern Virginia region, ensuring a long-term pipeline of qualified professionals in the field.

In the Halifax/South Boston area, Sentara supports Project PRIME scholarships for employees and community members and the Dr. Jesse Bates Scholarship Fund for high school seniors pursuing higher education in the healthcare field. Sentara also provides clinical sites for students training at Longwood University, Averett University, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

On average, Sentara RMH Medical Center in Rockingham County hosts 650 nursing students per year for clinical rotations, and in 2020, it hosted 900 students. In addition, in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Sentara RMH launched the Sentara RMH School of Phlebotomy and the Sentara College of Health Science’s Patient Care Technician Program. Sentara RMH also operates the Sentara School of Histotechnology.

In Eastern North Carolina, Sentara Albemarle Medical Center provides financial support for the College of The Albemarle’s Nursing and Allied Health programs and hosts nursing students in the hospital for nursing labs and clinical observation.

And, finally, in the Charlottesville region, Sentara works extensively with Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) to provide scholarships, such as through the Wright Diagnostic Sonography Scholarship, and direct support to students pursuing healthcare careers, including Sentara’s new Network2Work initiative. With a pilot class launched in 2020 with eight CNA students, Network2Work aims to provide cost of living stipends and tuition support for 72 area students transitioning from low-wage jobs into healthcare careers at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. This partnership is being funded by the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation with generous support from Batten Family Fund at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.

PICTURED ABOVE: Thanks to our extensive partnerships, training opportunities at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center run the gamut — from proper charting and record keeping to diagnostics.

nurse in training

Supporting the Next Generation of Healthcare Leaders

nurse and female patient laughing together

Improving Lives Every Day

As an integrated health system, Sentara provides both care and coverage for our community members. In that regard, our health plan division, comprising Optima Health and Virginia Premier (a joint venture between Sentara and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System), allows us to live our focus of addressing the Social Determinants of Health on an individual level while we simultaneously work to address them on a community-wide level.

For example, through our partnership with Unite Us (an outcome-focused technology company that builds coordinated care networks connecting health and social service providers), we connect health plan members with supportive services in their areas that can help them mitigate the daily challenges they face.

Our health plan leaders also work hand-in-hand with faith-based and other community organizations to provide a variety of services, including Veterans Helping Veterans, Tidewater Community College, Portsmouth Parks and Recreation, 100 Black Men, YMCA Eastern Shore, National Partnership for Action, United Way (Project Inclusion), Petersburg Sheriff’s Office (Senior Resource Day), Lynchburg Boys and Girls Club, and Big Brothers Big Sisters Danville, among many others.

In addition to these supportive services, Optima Health addresses housing instability by partnering with local shelters and community organizations to provide Medicaid members with referrals regarding housing options, while also offering health screenings, educational information, and hygiene kits to the homeless. And our support of programs like the Job Seekers Boot Camp helps members create resumes, practice interview skills, and find employment.

“Optima Health and Virginia Premier realize that addressing our current health crisis takes coordination at many levels and have partnered with community organizations to offer meaningful solutions to improve health and lives across Virginia. It is our sincere hope that our partnerships will inspire other organizations to act with creative and innovative ideas to address the variety of social challenges facing our communities.”

Dennis Matheis, Executive Vice President and President, Sentara Health Plans

nurse and female patient laughing together

Improving Lives Every Day

Sustaining Momentum

We know that the substantive initiatives we’re undertaking through Sentara Cares will take time to bear fruit. To ensure we’re meeting not just long-term goals but also immediate needs, we’re proud to partner with an extensive network of organizations working to improve lives in a variety of ways every day.

View the Sentara Healthcare Community Impact Report

Download the Impact report
sentara cares impact report
Download the Impact report