The power of partnership
Reflecting on a year of unprecedented grassroots engagement, coalition building, and collective impact to address the most pressing needs of our communities.Download the Impact report
By the Numbers
In 2021, Sentara invested nearly $254 Million in our communities.
Health and Prevention Programs
Teaching and Training of Healthcare Professionals
Uncompensated Patient Care
In 2021, Sentara and its partners focused on administering life-saving vaccines, reducing barriers to essential healthcare services, and connecting more residents to the resources they need to thrive.
Consistent presence helps Sentara understand community needs from the ground up.
Walking door to door to sign residents of Norfolk’s Young Terrace Neighborhood up for COVID-19 vaccinations and getting only one taker the first day might cause some to simply move on. Others might return a second or third time. And some, like Dr. Geoffrey Van Guns, Senior Pastor at Second Calvary Baptist Church in Norfolk, might not rest until they’ve knocked on every door and brought along a Sentara nurse
to help administer shots.
“If you just go once, then people think you weren’t really that interested in helping to begin with,” Dr. Guns says, which is why he and Sentara made sure they were there the same times on the same days every week — so people knew exactly when and where to find them.
Dr. Guns and other faith leaders were active in staging and supporting large-scale vaccination events through education and outreach — even registering and driving residents to appointments. However, as more widespread availability of vaccines lessened the need for these events, door-to-door outreach became a natural progression.
“The challenge then became how to reach people beyond those events,” Dr. Guns says. “That means connecting with individuals where they are.”
And as Sentara Director of Health Equity Iris Lundy, RN, BSN, contends, faith leaders like Dr. Guns were the natural torchbearers for that kind of outreach.
“There was a lot of vaccine hesitancy, and for good reason,” Lundy recalls. “But if you want to do something in the community — any community — you need to find that trusted voice, and you need to listen.”
“Yes, we were talking about vaccines, but we were also doing blood pressure checks and other screenings,” Dr. Guns adds. “We were talking about ways to escape the gravitational pull of these forces that keep people locked in poverty — that keep them shackled to poor health.”
And for Lundy, those are the conversations Sentara is committed to continuing long after COVID-19.
“If we want to focus on what our communities need, we need our communities to trust us enough to tell us what those needs are,” Lundy says. “I can tell you what the research says, but we need to pair that with what people are experiencing, so we know we’re moving in the right direction. That’s why I’m so grateful to Dr. Guns and other leaders like him for coming alongside us and helping us build that level of trust.”
“Consistency is what makes Sentara an ideal partner,” adds Dr. Guns. “[In October] there was a shooting in the community — unrelated to anything we were doing, but it occurred — and one of the concerns people had was whether Sentara would continue with the project. But Sentara remained committed, and that was key.”
“Staying or leaving in that situation sends a message,” Lundy says, “and the message we sent by staying was that we’re going to show up, even when it’s difficult, because that’s what all of our communities deserve.”
550 vaccination clinics
Sentara hosted 550 vaccination clinics in its communities in 2021.
In 2021, Sentara administered 200K vaccines, 43% of which went to traditionally underserved communities.
“If we want to focus on what our communities need, we need our communities to trust us enough to tell us what those needs are…That’s why I’m so grateful to Dr. Guns and other leaders like him for coming alongside us and helping us build that level of trust.”
– Iris Lundy, Director of Health Equity, RN, BSN
Partnering to Deepen Trust
BUILD A STRONGER PIPELINE OF PROVIDERS
Sentara partners with educational institutions to address health disparities and foster unprecedented collaboration.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to put a magnifying glass on health disparities, Sentara set its sights on convening higher education partners to address gaps in service and outcomes in both the near and long term.
Announced in January 2021 with Sentara’s $6 million funding commitment and formally launched with a Memorandum of Understanding in August, the ONE School of Public Health takes its name from its three member institutions: Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, and Eastern Virginia Medical School. With each school bringing its unique expertise, educational offerings, and community knowledge to the table, the ONE School will take aim at health disparities through a blend of education, research, and service.
The school will offer collaborative graduate and doctoral programs of study in public health, as well as other continuing education opportunities, with classes available at all three institutions.
The school will conduct regular research into important public health challenges on the local, state, and national levels, while also performing deep dives into local health disparities and how best to address them.
Through the enhanced partnerships between these institutions and community organizations, students and faculty will have more significant opportunities for service-learning and to improve cultural competency skills.
Growing the Number of Diverse Healthcare Providers
In addition to its support of the ONE School of Public Health, Sentara also established a partnership with Hampton University to boost its recruitment, retention, and continued support of nursing students of color.
Sentara’s commitment will enable the university to reduce the burden of cost on students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, launch a mobile skills-building program, and provide stronger mentorship and career placement supports to ensure long-term success.
ABOVE: In December, leaders from Sentara, EVMS, and ODU also signed a separate MOU to enhance collaborative efforts through an affiliated health sciences center and to investigate opportunities to leverage collective resources to better address regional health disparities.
BUILD A STRONGER PIPELINE OF PROVIDERS
MEET HEIGHTENED BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NEEDS
Providing peace through a pandemic, low-income and uninsured Virginians have accelerated access to behavioral health professionals and resources.
The Need We All Face
Across all populations and age groups, two years of pandemic living have resulted in record levels of stress, depression, and anxiety — all compounded by national and statewide shortages in practitioners.
With Virginia ranked 37th in access to behavioral health services in the nation, Sentara continues to tackle gaps and barriers to service through its network of community partners.
Conquering the Consequences of COVID-19
Now in its second year, the Virginia Health Care Foundation’s Conquering the Consequences of COVID-19 (CCC-19) initiative continues its work to increase the availability of mental health service providers in areas of Virginia that need it most. In 2021, for example, the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner scholarship program supported 39 individuals with full scholarships to pursue training in one of the most in-demand behavioral health fields. Once their studies are complete, these individuals will then commit to two years of practice in areas with an identified shortage of professionals. In addition, more than half of the recipients so far have been people of color — a critical factor in building trust with individuals in underrepresented communities.
Focusing on Our Most At-risk Communities
In South Hampton Roads, 13.6 percent of adults report dealing with frequent mental stress, which is higher than the national average. Yet, according to the most recent Greater Hampton Roads Community Index data, the region has a lower behavioral health care provider rate than the rest of the state and the nation.
While efforts such as CCC-19 and Sentara’s total scholarship commitments work to boost the number of practitioners in the field over time, Sentara also maintains deep and continued relationships with organizations like The Up Center to ensure delivery of critical behavioral health services needed now. In fact, in 2021, The Up Center provided mental health counseling and services to 837 individuals — with 73 percent reporting improved stress symptoms — as well as substance use services to 108 individuals.
MEET HEIGHTENED BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NEEDS
FIGHT CRITICAL DISPARITIES
Reducing gaps in maternal health and early childhood outcomes starts with ensuring greater access to services and support.
Like much of the U.S., mortality rates for Black mothers in Virginia and North Carolina are more than double that of white mothers. From inequitable access to health insurance to maternity care “deserts” to the reluctance of expectant mothers to seek care or report problems for fear of law enforcement involvement, Sentara and its partners continue to address barriers to maternal care through a variety of initiatives.
Bringing Care (and Baby) Home
“Too many newborns have lost their mothers to uncontrolled hypertension, particularly women of color, who are three to four times more likely to die in the postpartum period,” says Trish O’Brien, President and CEO of Children’s Health Investment Program of South Hampton Roads (CHIP).
To extend postpartum care into the home and reduce the risk among women discharged from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with hypertension, CHIP and Sentara partnered in 2021 to launch the Moms Matter program, which will be extended in 2022 to include Sentara Obici Hospital.
As part of the program, CHIP nurses make weekly virtual visits to ensure moms are taking their medications and receiving necessary follow-up care. They also provide health education and screen for postpartum depression and other factors that complicate life after childbirth, including food and housing insecurity and transportation barriers.
In-home visits are also the driving force behind Sentara’s partnership with the Tri-County Community Action Agency in South Boston, which works to ensure better maternal health outcomes through access to prenatal and postpartum care while promoting positive, nurturing, and responsive parenting. Similarly, Sentara’s partnership with the ReadyKids Mental Health Initiative will help provide more mental health screenings and intensive weekly in-home counseling for pre/postnatal depression and anxiety for at-risk pregnant women and mothers of young children in Charlottesville and the surrounding area.
Access and Education — One Member at a Time
Through a proactive approach to outreach, Optima Health and Virginia Premier, Sentara’s health plan subsidiaries, continue to ensure increased access and utilization of prenatal and post-partum care, as well as case management and referrals for social determinants of health factors that can complicate pregnancy and early parenthood.
With a successful pivot to virtual platforms in response to COVID-19, our baby shower program continues to provide education on a variety of topics, including breast feeding, how to apply for WIC and other supports, safe sleep practices, and what to expect at maternity wards.
Meanwhile, through outreach specialists, we screen daily for health risks and refer to community-based organizations who can address both maternity needs and social determinants of health needs.
Trusted Spaces and Faces
Sentara’s partnership with Birth Sisters of Charlottesville aims to amplify the organization’s ability to support women of color at every stage of the birth journey. While virtual training sessions and services helped to overcome COVID-era restrictions, increasing the organization’s capacity to train doulas and lactation specialists hinges on securing a convenient physical space for expectant mothers to access these culturally responsive services and support.
Similarly, Sentara is also partnering with CrossOver Healthcare Ministry’s Women’s Health Program to expand its direct OB and prenatal care service to more medically underserved, uninsured, and Medicaid enrollees in the Richmond region.
“No Wrong Door” to Receive Help
Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) data shows pregnant and parenting women with substance use disorder (SUD) are more likely to delay or avoid prenatal and postpartum care for fear of being reported to government or law enforcement authorities — further increasing the risk of poor outcomes for both mothers and babies.
But if women battling SUD aren’t seeking care or reporting struggles with use, connecting them with the services and support they need becomes an ever-increasing challenge.
“Sentara Norfolk General Hospital sees the most at-risk pregnancies in our region, so they know this issue intimately,” says Cynthia Romero, M.D., FAAFP, Director of the Eastern Virginia Medical School Brock Institute for Community and Global Health. For that reason, Sentara is investing in Romero’s vision for a “no wrong door” person centered pathway for connecting these mothers with the services they need.
Developing that pathway, Romero says, hinges on building bridges, collaborating with Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University, and leveraging Sentara’s work in the community. These bridges will allow partnerships to flourish with other stakeholders who will be vital to preventing these women from slipping through the cracks, such as the criminal justice system, community services boards, nonprofits, and departments of health and social services.
FIGHT CRITICAL DISPARITIES
CONNECT VITAL RESOURCES
Optima’s early adoption of tools like Unite Us helps effectively screen and refer for social determinants of health services.
When it comes to uncovering the needs of patients and families beyond any medical conditions with which they may present, Sentara has always had a trained ear and a deep bench of partners to whom it could refer.
But until recently, it was difficult to know whether a patient or family ever made it to the food pantry or connected with a service agency.
Now, through Sentara’s relationship with Unite Us, a more coordinated network of care and community partners is taking shape. Initially embraced by Sentara’s health plan division, Optima Health, in 2019, this technology platform has allowed health plan enrollment specialists at Optima to not only more efficiently screen and then refer for social determinants of health needs directly, but also to see whether referrals have been opened (and take appropriate measures when they haven’t been acted upon).
As Sentara and Optima worked to scale the platform in 2021, this capacity is now at the fingertips of more professionals who interact with patients and plan members every day.
About Unite Us
The Unite Us network in Virginia is built in partnership with the Office of the Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, the Virginia Department of Health, Partnering for a Healthy Virginia, Kaiser Permanente, Virginia Mental Health Access Program, Virginia Department of Social Services, and Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.
CONNECT VITAL RESOURCES
ENSURE CONNECTIONS TO CARE
Reducing access barriers hinges on increasing points of contact and providing navigational services.
As healthcare providers privileged to serve diverse communities throughout Virginia and Eastern North Carolina, we know the term “access” can mean different things depending on the neighborhood. But, as exemplified by the two partnerships below, increased presence and personalized support remain at the heart of Sentara’s efforts to ensure all have equitable access to care and services.
Building Navigational Capacity
With three locations in Northern Virginia, CASA has established itself as a leading voice serving Hispanic, Latino, and other immigrant communities — many of whom come from lower-income backgrounds, have limited English proficiency, are often uninsured or underinsured, and lack familiarity with health and human service systems in the U.S.
Sentara’s partnership with CASA will allow the organization to further expand its reach in these communities through an embedded Health and Human Services team comprising service navigators and community health advocates. These team members will be drawn from the communities they serve to help connect community members with critical insurance enrollment and healthcare services, as well as assist with building English proficiency, address rent burden, and navigate the social safety net system.
Building New Points of Care
From a long-standing organization in Northern Virginia to a start-up in the Blue Ridge, Sentara’s partnership with the Blue Ridge Free Clinic will support a vital new entry point of care for the community.
Through this partnership, the clinic will be able to increase access to behavioral health services on site, hire a social services navigator, and provide program coordination and support with other area organizations offering dental services, health literacy education, medication assistance, and healthy cooking classes.
ENSURE CONNECTIONS TO CARE
In 2021, Sentara supported programs and initiatives to confront unprecedented behavioral health needs in our communities and allow residents to take that all-important next step — whether it be into an educational pathway, rewarding career, or a safe and stable home.
Pave Pathways to Success
Through Sentara’s support of workforce partners, residents have access to tailored plans to build better careers and financial futures.
Patricia Aughtry had been retired for seven years when COVID-19 hit. And while she felt content after serving 26 years as a Personnel Specialist and ending her U.S. Navy career as Senior Chief, seeing so many in her community struggle in the face of the pandemic made retirement no longer an option.
“It’s the most important time in our lifetimes,” Aughtry says. “And I just felt I had to help — that I had something to offer.”
So, Aughtry became a Financial and Career Counselor at the Newport News “Bridge 757” Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) — one of two FOCs in the region made possible through Sentara’s partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Hampton Roads, the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, and the Urban League of Hampton Roads.
At its core, Bridge 757 helps low- to moderate-income individuals land and advance in local growth industry sector jobs through a personalized approach to career services, financial coaching, and income management skills building. For coaches like Aughtry, “personalized” is the operative word.
“No two people are alike, so my first priority is meeting them where they are and appreciating who they are and where they want to go,” Aughtry says. “From there, we build a plan together.”
For those looking for a new and better career, the plan may revolve around connecting them with training and education providers. For those who have just completed a certificate or credential program, the plan may involve researching together the jobs for which they now qualify.
Regardless, Aughtry says the key to making any plan stick hinges on identifying and addressing the barriers that may have prevented people from succeeding on the job or in the classroom before — such as lack of child or elder care, transportation barriers, or rent and utility assistance.
“After all,” Aughtry says, “if we don’t knock out those obstacles, then that training or that new job isn’t going to lead where they want it to lead.”
But Aughtry cautions that the success of the FOC model and approach isn’t “doing for” but rather “doing with” — by empowering participants to navigate their financial landscapes with confidence.
Whether it’s creating a monthly budget and savings plan, learning how to pull and interpret a credit report, or better understanding the terms of a car loan or credit card application, Aughtry says the everyday blends with the long-term to create a truly holistic strategy — not only to put more residents on a path to success but also to keep them there.
Did you know?
In addition to workforce development initiatives like “Bridge 757”, Sentara’s investment in and partnership with LISC seeded the opening of the local office in Hampton Roads. Thanks to Sentara’s support, the organization has:
- Worked with the City of Virginia Beach and United Way of South Hampton Roads to administer small business relief grants through the VBThrive Business Relief Grant Program, which in 2021 awarded grants to 700 business owners impacted by COVID-19 and will award $10 million in total grant funding;
- Supported the launch of the Hispanic Resource Center of Coastal Virginia — a first-of-its-kind resource connecting the region’s Hispanic and Latino communities with vital health and social safety net services, as well as civil and human rights services; and
- Built the capacity of community-based organizations working to increase access to affordable housing and resident services.
Building a Stronger Workforce: Bridge 757 & VA Ready
While “Bridge 757” turned its sights in 2021 on the Hampton Roads community by enrolling 147 individuals in its program, Sentara also partnered with VA Ready to help Virginians who were economically impacted by the pandemic. In its first year, VA Ready enrolled 2,178 Virginians and helped 703 achieve credentials that can lead to higher-paying, more stable careers in industries experiencing the greatest labor shortages, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and cyber security.
Also, as part of its partnership with VA Ready, the Sentara College of Health Sciences launched a training and employment pilot as part of its Patient Care Technician program. Of the VA Ready participants who completed the program, more than half are employed with Sentara.
“Our partnership with Sentara allows us to better extend the resources and expertise LISC is able to bring to the table, while also allowing us to better engage partners outside of Sentara to impact and enrich communities that have historically been impacted by under-investment.”
— Naomi Gunnell, Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Hampton Roads Deputy Director
Partnering to Pave Pathways to Success
Fulfill Lifelong Dreams
Scholarships help provide the freedom and drive to pursue passions.
As a 10-year-old watching her mother attend nursing school, Taylor Schwartz envisioned her own career path.
“It’s been my dream since then to be a nurse,” she says.
Following high school, Schwartz earned her CNA licensure and worked at a local nursing home while taking nursing classes at Piedmont Community College. Her goal was to move into a hospital setting, and in 2019 she joined the medical-surgical intensive care unit at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.
But the stress of keeping up with the demands of the job and paying for her education mounted until she mentioned her frustrations to a coworker, who pointed her to Sentara’s scholarship resources.
“I was really grateful because it meant that I wasn’t going to struggle to pay for school,” she says. “It took a lot of worries off of my financial state.”
With those financial worries weighing less, Taylor was able to devote more energy to helping members of her community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a frontline worker caring for numerous ICU patients suffering from COVID, many of whom did not survive, Taylor admits that the experience took an emotional toll. And, while it did cause her to momentarily question whether to stick with nursing, in the end, the experience only solidified her resolve.
“Being a CNA through COVID has been a lot, but it opened my eyes and brought me full circle,” she says. “I am good at my job, and I do belong here.”
“If you want your patients to have the best care, you want people like Taylor,” says Clinical Manager Tiffany Fick, BSN, RN. “Taylor was on the verge of not doing nursing, and the scholarship was one thing that took care of her and gave her the push she needed to stay in the profession. She will definitely be a benefit to the nursing profession.”
Supporting Future Healthcare Professionals
In communities throughout Virginia and Eastern North Carolina, Sentara partners with local secondary and post-secondary institutions to support students in our communities with a passion and desire to pursue health careers.
For example, in 2021, the Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital Foundation continued a 30-year partnership with Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) with a $100,000 commitment to fund BRCC’s healthcare education programming. This initiative will help ensure a pipeline of homegrown providers in the Shenandoah Valley for years to come.
In addition to scholarships for community members and educational programming, Sentara also provides host sites for students completing hands-on practicum training in a variety of fields at nearby colleges and universities.
By 2028, the Virginia Employment Commission projects a need for:
7,746 New Registered Nurses
2,550 Licensed Practical Nurses
ABOVE: Thanks to Sentara’s scholarship commitments, people like Taylor Schwartz, CNA, have the ability enter and advance in healthcare professions in their communities.
Fulfill Lifelong Dreams
Support those Who Serve
Through Sentara’s support for veterans and their families, life after service and sacrifice presents new opportunities and hope.
Veterans and their families face many uncertainties when transitioning from military service. Navigating this transition requires a network of partners and providers who understand many veterans’ unique complexities.
Whether it be through behavioral health support and referrals, education opportunities, medical care for service-related injuries, peer support groups, or homelessness prevention programs, Sentara and its partners remain committed to helping veterans and their families start the next chapter.
Virginia Veteran and Family Support
At its most recent point-in-time count, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that there are 395 veterans experiencing homelessness in Virginia on any given night. As COVID-19 eviction moratoriums came to an end in 2021, this number has likely grown since.
To that end, in 2021, Sentara’s partnership with the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation (VVSF) and the Virginia Homeless Veterans Fund helped to ensure that veterans who are chronically unhoused or at risk of losing their homes had short-term assistance to pay for deposits, rent, and utilities.
In addition, through the VVSF, Sentara remains a vital partner in closing gaps in services not covered through state and federal support. As such, Sentara’s support helps to provide a critical link for more veterans to receive direct, personalized care coordination, financial assistance, peer-to-peer mentoring, caregiver skill-building support, and access to behavioral health support systems.
Did you know?
Sentara is a proud supporter of the Virginia Values Veterans program and the Army’s Partnership for Youth Success program. In 2020, Sentara hired the most military medics and corpsmen in Virginia.
From Service to Scholars
Through Sentara’s partnership with Western Governors University (WGU), low-income veterans in Hampton Roads are receiving a sustainable education-to-career pathway through Sentara’s Service to Scholars Program. This program includes an academic boot camp to prepare participants for the rigor and challenges of continuing education, hands-on help with the application process, and, once enrolled, one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, and group sessions to keep enrollees on track. Veterans also receive a matching $500 stipend for the first two terms, and WGU provides funds for three more terms.
Support those Who Serve
ENHANCE HOUSING SERVICES
Partnerships aimed at building capacity help connect our most vulnerable residents and plan members to healthcare, shelter, and support services.
When it comes to supporting members of our communities who are unhoused or at risk of losing their homes, Sentara knows that as long-term solutions for the development of more housing units take root, immediate attention must be paid to better connecting residents not only with shelter, but with the services they need to mitigate conditions contributing to unstable housing situations.
Boosting care and referral options
Virginia Supportive Housing: Optima Health launched a two-year pilot program with Virginia Supportive Housing to support members with housing instability and an acute mental health condition. Through this partnership, Optima will help identify permanent stable housing situations, obtain appropriate care for chronic and behavioral health conditions, and work to reduce non-emergency department visits and non-emergency psychiatric acute inpatient visits.
The Union Mission and Strength in Peers: As a long-standing partner with The Union Mission, Sentara sends a dedicated primary care provider to the shelter each week to treat guests. Sentara also partners with both organizations to ensure that those without housing have a safe place to recover following discharge from local hospitals — a place where they can also receive case management services, behavioral health support, and hands-on education for chronic disease management.
Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodgings & Provisions (HELP): Sentara’s relationship with HELP has similarly run the gamut — from providing funding to enhance shelter services during the winter of 2020-21 as demand and costs rose, to supporting on-site treatments at HELP’s day center. Now, Sentara is working with the organization to establish a full-time benefits navigator, which will be a joint venture with the City of Hampton’s Paramedicine Program.
Piedmont Housing Alliance: Sentara’s partnership with this manager of affordable housing units in the Charlottesville region will allow the organization to boost resident services by adding a Resident Wellness Manager. The partnership will also advance three priority program areas: eviction prevention, healthy food resources, and access to mental and behavioral health services.
PIN Ministry: Sentara’s partnership with PIN Ministry will allow the organization to expand its counseling and part-time casework capabilities to help clients access wraparound services for employment, housing, healthcare, and basic needs. Similarly, the addition of an exam room will allow PIN to provide medical care until a client is stable, as well as free over-the-counter and prescription medicine.
ENHANCE HOUSING SERVICES
Build Brighter Futures
Meeting the behavioral health needs of children and teens requires a deep bench of partners.
Whether coping with the loss of a loved one to COVID-19, adjusting to an entirely new model of learning on the fly, or temporarily losing access to school-related supports, resources, and activities, the past two years have brought a variety of stressors to children and adolescents in our communities. How we mitigate the long-term effects of these stressors and daily challenges hinges on our partners’ abilities to meet more children where they are.
ChildSavers: Sentara’s partnership with ChildSavers will allow the organization to serve more youth who live in Richmond’s East End, a nexus of health and racial disparities in the city. ChildSavers’ model helps build resilience to trauma through a blend of immediate on-site response and interventions, as well as ongoing psychiatric, outpatient, and school-based clinical services.
Youth for Tomorrow: In Northern Virginia, Sentara’s partnership with Youth for Tomorrow will allow the organization to expand counseling services at its Woodbridge Behavioral Health Office.
Empowerment Center for Children, Youth and Families (ECCYF): Through its partnership with Sentara, ECCYF will further its reach in Norfolk’s Park Place community through the expansion of out-of-school programming. This programming includes the Sentara Scholars daily after school program, Saturday Academy weekend recreation-themed early career exposure, Sunday Funday cultural field trips, mentoring, athletics, faith training, and family enrichment.
Southside Boys and Girls Club: With an explicit focus on youth who are transitioning to adulthood in the Berkley/Campostella communities of Norfolk, this partnership will allow the Southside Boys and Girls Club to expand the reach of its Emotional Wellness program to build the social and emotional skills necessary for academic, professional, and personal success.
New Vision Youth Services: Also focused on helping young adults transitioning into adulthood, Sentara’s partnership with New Vision Youth Services will allow the organization to expand its reach in Chesapeake through life skills and case management services, educational advancement opportunities, and housing and employment assistance.
More than 15% of Virginia youths have experienced a major depressive episode within the past year.
Source: Mental Health America
Build Brighter Futures
Secure Second Chances
Sentara’s support helps ensure access to mental health services for nonviolent offenders.
According to a survey of 57 Virginia-based jails, one in four inmates suffers from some form of mental health disorder. Meanwhile, many of the violations leading to their incarcerations stem from those same illnesses.
Behavioral Health Docket programs implemented at the General District Court level in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia, look to upend this dilemma by providing personalized treatment for defendants charged with nonviolent crimes and helping them achieve stability and self-sufficiency.
In the opening months of the program, participants focus on developing and implementing treatment plans and regular check-ins through therapy sessions, after which they visit with a judge every other week. But as Charvalla West, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Community Impact for United Way of the Virginia Peninsula (UWVP), told The Daily Press when the program was announced, many who could be helped by the program simply lack the transportation necessary to participate. To combat this barrier, Sentara has partnered with the UWVP to help transport participants to court sessions, treatment appointments, and work.
“I know that I can be there to help these individuals through a very difficult time and to help them find the coping skills to be positive and successful members of society,” General District Judge Matthew W. Hoffman also told The Daily Press. Now, they have the means to
Secure Second Chances
In 2021, Sentara committed to grassroots organizations working to meet the needs of our communities every day and enhance the lives and potential of every person we reach.
Expansion of service helps prevent one of the greatest risks to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder — and one of the greatest worries for parents.
Every parent knows the feeling. One second, your child is at your hip. The next, they’re out of sight. Worry grips the mind, panic floods the heart, and the frenzy builds until they’re back in your arms.
But as universal as that experience is — and as ultimately harmless as many of those instances are — wandering literally keeps parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) up at night. In fact, 60 percent of parents rate wandering as the most stressful of ASD behaviors, and 40 percent report losing sleep because of it, according to the National Autism Association (NAA).
The reason? It isn’t just that children on the spectrum wander more frequently. It’s that they wander into danger — particularly around water. And with NAA also listing drowning as the leading cause of accidental death among children with ASD under the age of 14, Eliza Hope Foundation Director Aimee Darby and Sentara have joined forces to ensure children on the spectrum build the skills they need to be safe in the water.
90% of accidental deaths in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are accidental drownings, and nearly a third of parents report having had a “close call” with a possible drowning.
Source: National Autism Association
“In a place like Hampton Roads, we’re surrounded by water —
it’s a part of life,” says Darby, who founded the Eliza Hope Foundation in 2018 to provide consolidated access to physical, speech, occupational, and applied behavioral analysis and social skills therapies. Until 2021, however, swimming wasn’t on the menu.
“Instincts like lifting your head in the water, grabbing for the side, or pushing off from the bottom don’t come naturally to these kids,” Darby says, “so the Eliza Hope Swim Stars isn’t necessarily about getting them to swim the length of a pool. It’s about getting them comfortable and ensuring they can save themselves if they get into a situation.”
And that place of comfort isn’t just peace of mind for parents. It’s a springboard to joy.
“I did not expect my son to enjoy this experience like he did, because I have had some not-so-great experiences with activities like this before with different facilities that do not take into consideration personal challenges,” says Kitanya Jean-Louis, whose six-year-old son Sloan recently completed the Swim Stars program.
“However, this program was different. I was able to tell from the very first moment based on how the coaches interacted with the children. They were equipped to handle behaviors in the water, and they got to know each child’s strengths and weaknesses by giving undivided attention.”
“Our hope has always been to offer more than just ‘therapies,’” Darby says, “because we know how difficult it can be to watch your child struggle to do some of the ‘typical’ things you see other kids doing. It can be incredibly overwhelming and lonely, and there’s no handbook — only community and understanding.”
Indeed, Darby is quick to recall her own confusion and isolation after her daughter Eliza was diagnosed. When Eliza passed in 2016, building that community and alleviating the burden of juggling multiple therapy appointments for other parents became Darby’s life’s work.
“That’s what makes it so special,” adds Jean-Louis. “Yes, the services are amazing and easily accessible. But since my husband is in the military and often gone for long periods, being around other parents with children on the spectrum is huge. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or unsure, there is always someone to give advice, recommendations, or just a hug.”
As a long-time partner in providing occupational and physical therapy services for the foundation, Sentara has witnessed firsthand the power of community Darby and her team have helped to build. Now, through this deepening of the partnership, and together with Lynnhaven Swim and Dive in Virginia Beach and Swim Angelfish in Connecticut, Darby and her team have the resources to train and certify instructors to work with children on the spectrum and offer a new resource in the region.
Not only can this resource make the difference between life and death, it also can help to ease one of the most significant emotional burdens families of children with ASD face.
“Since my husband is in the military and often gone for long periods, being around other parents with children on the spectrum is huge. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed or unsure, there is always someone to give advice, recommendations, or just a hug.”
— Kitanya Jean-Louis, Eliza Hope Swim Stars Parent
Partnering to Bring Hope
Elevate Equity through Food
Targeted access and education help eliminate barriers to healthy, locally sourced food.
As COVID-19 demonstrated, too many Americans are only one crisis away from food insecurity. While Sentara partnered with food banks in 2020 to meet crisis needs through our We Care initiative, in 2021 we turned our attention to making equitable, sustainable access to healthy foods a reality for more communities.
Getting Mobile — and Local
In communities surrounding the Jefferson School in Charlottesville, where close to 94 percent of school-enrolled children qualify for free or reduced lunch, Sentara’s partnership with the Local Food Hub will allow the organization to expand its “Fresh Farmacy” program. This program consists of bi-weekly deliveries of locally sourced food options, along with farm information, storage tips, and easy-to-follow recipes. In addition, Sentara’s partnership will allow the organization to pilot two pay-what-you-can farmers markets in the Jefferson School parking lot.
Similarly, in Hampton Roads, Sentara is partnering with Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture (HRUA) to serve residents with diabetes, or those at risk of developing the disease, through vouchers they can use to shop for fresh, organic, locally grown produce at HRUA’s Mobile Markets. Here, participants will also receive instruction on healthy cooking techniques, meal prep strategies, and even how to grow food.
Growing Food — and Skills
With its network of 150 partner agencies, 19 mobile food pantries, and numerous access and education programs, the Food Bank of the Albemarle considers itself more of a “nutrition bank.” Now, with Sentara’s help and in partnership with the Pasquotank County North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, the organization is doubling down on its nutrition education offerings through the construction of an on-site teaching kitchen. Here, community members and agency partners will have access to cooking demonstrations, as well as nutrition education and recipe resources.
Education is also at the heart of a recent “Tower Gardens” initiative spearheaded by the James E. Newby Jr. Foundation and supported by Sentara in the Ingleside community of Norfolk, a predominantly African American community that suffers from high levels of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Using aeroponic technology that allows for more plants to be grown in less time, “Tower Gardens” will be installed at two schools that will serve close to 600 students, giving them the ability to grow, interact with, and learn about healthy foods during the school year, rather than only during growing seasons.
Finally, Sentara is also partnering with two organizations — Healthy Suffolk and Cultivate Charlottesville — who are working to rebuild and reclaim urban spaces for embedded community gardens that can support grassroots access and education.
Elevate Equity through Food
Build an Enduring Symbol of Care
Hampton Roads moves one step closer to “beyond cancer.”
Bringing a first-of-its-kind — and one-of-a-kind — cancer resource to a community takes more than dedicated healthcare providers. It takes more than dedicated loved ones, caregivers, and survivors. It takes everyone because cancer touches everyone.
Though the Sentara Brock Cancer Center carries the name of prominent philanthropist and cancer survivor Joan Brock, in the center’s healing garden, you will also find the names of many others who have fought the disease and those who have stood beside them in that fight.
Every year in Hampton Roads, more than 10,000 people hear the words, “You have cancer” — which is not only a devastating diagnosis, but also a disrupter of daily life. Until the Sentara Brock Cancer Center opened, patients and their loved ones were forced to shuffle to different appointments across the region (or even outside the region) to get the care they needed.
But the center is more than a one-stop-shop for holistic, comprehensive, and state-of-the-art care and services. It’s the embodiment of a community coming together to move beyond cancer.
ABOVE: The Healing Garden at the Sentara Brock Cancer Center allows patients and visitors to gain strength and inspiration while honoring those who help in the fight.
Build an Enduring Symbol of Care
Support the Whole Family
Good health and prosperity are at the heart of three Hampton Roads partnerships.
Hampton Roads Community Action Program (HRCAP): By coordinating educational resources for children with employment resources for their parents, HRCAP’s Two Gen/Whole Family Program currently serves low-income families of preschool-age children where one or more parent is unemployed or under employed. Through Sentara’s partnership, HRCAP will expand this program to serve families with children of any age. In addition to broadening the number of families served, program expansion will allow for the hiring of a certified community health worker and increased engagement with local public health organizations.
Greater Norfolk Medical Society: Through its partnership with Sentara, the Greater Norfolk Medical Society will tackle health inequities in the Western Tidewater region by implementing a year-long education program with 12 monthly topics. With a curriculum designed for longitudinal learning, participants will receive ongoing exposure to healthy behaviors while self-monitoring their own health progress through various indicators.
YMCA of the Virginia Peninsula: Through its partnership with Sentara, the YMCA of the Virginia Peninsula will expand the reach of its “Y in Motion” programs to make greater impacts in underserved communities. These programs empower children, their caregivers, and 55+ populations through nutrition education, mental and physical development opportunities, and lifestyle change interventions.
Support the Whole Family
Enhance the Cultural Fabric of Communities
When COVID-19 threatened a local landmark, Sentara helped preserve its place in the community.
The Prizery, a nonprofit arts and cultural center, serves as a hub for the small-town community of South Boston, Virginia. As such, it remains a key partner for Sentara, as it had been for Halifax Hospital.
Located in a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Prizery includes a welcome center, hosts performances in its 250-seat theater, exhibits art, provides venues for events and rentals, and offers a wide range of music and art classes. But when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, The Prizery, like many nonprofits, was hit hard. Programs and performances were halted. Staff was laid off. And the entire organization was shuttered.
Joe Orenstein, who works as a clinical social worker at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital’s outpatient behavioral health clinic, first became acquainted with the organization when he and his wife auditioned for a local production. Currently, he serves on the executive committee as a past president of the board.
“It was a good way to become invested in a vital part of this community,” he says. “[But after COVID], it was like a bomb going off. We went into a waiting game.”
To play that waiting game, The Prizery needed partners who could cover operating expenses until it was safe to host events again — a role Sentara was happy to fill.
And for Melanie Cornelison-Jannotta, The Prizery’s Executive Director, that ongoing relationship with Sentara “means everything.”
“Look around the Southeast United States landscape, and you’ll see that there’s almost nothing like The Prizery in a town the size of South Boston,” Cornelison-Jannotta says. “It makes all the difference to residents to have this. It’s not just a place to come see shows; it’s a community gathering place.”
ABOVE: As a local landmark and gathering place, The Prizery provides residents in South Boston opportunities to see live music and theatre, as well as participate in enriching cultural programs and classes.
(Photos courtesy of The Prizery)
Enhance the Cultural Fabric of Communities
Expand Our Impact close to Home
Team member and local supplier engagement hit new heights in 2021.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team members have sacrificed to meet challenge after challenge with the care and compassion our communities have come to expect from Sentara. In 2021, for example, our team members logged 1,226 volunteer shifts and donated more than $271,000 to the H.O.P.E. Fund to help fellow team members in need.
The year 2021 also witnessed the implementation of Sentara’s Fidelity Charitable Match Program, whereby team members can amplify the support they give to the causes nearest and dearest to them. And, since they know their communities in and out, our team members’ votes also helped Sentara direct $2 million in year-end gifts to 60 organizations they feel provide the greatest impact to their communities.
Finally, in 2021, Sentara also made strides to build resiliency into its supply chain by establishing a Supplier Diversity Executive Council (SDEC) tasked with broadening and diversifying Sentara’s base of suppliers while emphasizing smaller, local vendors.
“We learned from the pandemic that there are local and regional vendors who can compete on quality, price, and reliability. We want to grow those relationships,” says Jennifer McPherren, vice president of supply chain and chair of the SDEC.
To that end, Sentara began offering education sessions to help smaller suppliers navigate the bid process. As a result, in 2021, Sentara awarded more than $76 million in local contracts in its communities.
$76m In local contracts awarded
$2m team member-directed giving to community nonprofits
$1.5m In employee contributions to United Ways in Virginia and North Carolina
1,226 Volunteer shifts taken by team members
Expand Our Impact close to Home
Built to Last
In 2021, we committed to partnership on an unprecedented scale and engaged a record number of organizations in program development. But as we reflect on the theme of this report, we know that truly powerful partnerships are those that are built from a place of shared understanding — and sustained through active dialogue and collaboration.
After all, when we send a nurse with a pastor into a community, we’re there to listen, not just to administer a vaccine. And it’s when we open our ears that our hearts open as well — that hope finds its way in.
And hope is truly at the center of every partnership we embraced and every program we supported in 2021 — hope that health disparities and inequities can be addressed, that opportunities for better careers can continue to expand, that healthy food can make it to every table.
We know these hopes are high, but we know we’re not the only ones who hold them. And if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that even when hope comes in small doses, it can last a lifetime.
Sherry Norquist, MSN, RN-ACM
Director of Community Engagement & Impact
Sentara is proud to support organizations working to address prominent social determinants of health factors like housing, food security, behavioral health services, skilled career training, and equitable access to care. Here is a list of our 2021 Grant Recipients.
2021 Grant Recipients
- ACTS – Action in the Community Through Service
- African American Pastors Council of Charlottesville and Vicinity
- Albemarle Alliance for Families and Children
- Albemarle Regional Health Services
- Albemarle Hopeline
- Alliance for Freedom, Restoration, and Justice
- American Cancer Society
- American Diabetes Association
- American Heart Association
- American Red Cross of Coastal Virginia
- An Achievable Dream
- AVA Care of Harrisonburg
- Birth Sisters of Charlottesville
- Black Brand
- Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
- Blue Ridge Community College Educational Foundation, Inc.
- Blue Ridge Free Clinic
- Boys & Girls Clubs (Prince William, Harrisonburg, and Virginia Peninsula)
- Capital Area Food Bank
- CASA Inc.
- Center for Child & Family Services, Inc.
- Center For Global Diplomacy
- Charlottesville Free Clinic
- Chesapeake Care Inc.
- Child & Family Services of Eastern Virginia, Inc., DBA The Up Center
- Children’s Harbor
- Children’s Health Investment Program, Inc.
- ChildSavers – Memorial Child Guidance Clinic
- Church World Service
- City of Hampton
- Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk
- Community Investment Collaborative
- Community of Faith Mission, Inc.
- CrossOver Healthcare Ministry
- Cultivate Charlottesville
- Eastern Virginia Medical School
- Empowerment Center for Children, Youth and Families
- Faith & Victory Christian Church
- Faith Works Coalition, Inc.
- Federation of Virginia Food Banks
- Feed More
- First Step
- Food Bank of the Albemarle
- Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore
- ForKids, Inc.
- FREE Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment
- George Mason University Foundation, Inc.
- Giving With A Golden Hand
- Gloucester Mathews Care Clinic
- Greene Care Clinic
- Habitat for Humanity (Elizabeth City, Greater Charlottesville, South Hampton Roads, and Tri River)
- Hampton Roads Community Action Program
- Hampton Roads Ecumenical Lodgings & Provisions, Inc.
- Hampton Roads Prostate Health Forum
- Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture
- Hampton University
- Healthy Community Health Centers
- Healthy Living Center
- Hearts Full of Grace, Inc.
- Hope Family Village
- Hope House Foundation, Inc.
- Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond Inc., DBA The Doorways
- House of Esther Organization
- Impact United Methodist Church
- James E. Newby Jr. MD Foundation
- James Madison University
- Jefferson Area Board of Aging Inc.
- Kids First Inc.
- Kingdom Investing Outreach Center
- Lake Country Area Agency on Aging
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
- Local Food Hub
- MaxStrong Memorial Fund in Honor of Max Salzman
- Mercy Chefs Inc.
- National Alliance for Mental Illness
- National Kidney Foundation Serving Virginia
- New Hope Christian Community Center
- New Vision Youth Services, Inc.
- Norfolk Alumni Chapter Save Our Youth Foundation
- Old Dominion University Research Foundation
- Olde Towne Medical & Dental Center – Free Clinic
- Olivet Medical Ministry, Inc.
- Orange County Free Clinic
- Parents in Need
- Park Place Health & Dental
- Patient Advocate Foundation
- Peninsula Agency on Aging
- Piedmont Housing Alliance
- PIN Ministry
- Port Discover
- Portsmouth Museums Foundation
- Prince William Area Agency on Aging
- Prince William Public Library Foundation
- Racing for Heroes
- Rx Drug Access Partnership, DBA Rx Partnership
- Safe Harbor
- Samaritan House, Inc.
- Second Calvary Baptist Church
- Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia
- Senior Connections – The Capital Area Agency on Aging
- Serving Hope
- Share Our Strength
- Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula
- Southside Behavioral Health
- Southside Boys & Girls Club
- SPARK – The Education Foundation for Prince William County Schools
- Street Light Community Outreach
- Strength In Peers, Inc.
- Suffolk Christian Fellowship Center
- Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, DBA Healthy Suffolk
- Suffolk Public Schools
- The Blue Ridge Free Clinic
- The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors
- The Eliza Hope Foundation
- The Greater Norfolk Medical Society of South Hampton Roads
- The Mariners’ Museum and Park
- The Union Mission
- Tidewater Arts Outreach
- Tri-County Community Action Agency, Inc.
- United Way (Albemarle Area, Greater Charlottesville, Greater Richmond, National Capitol Area, Harrisonburg & Rockingham, Southampton Roads, Southwest Virginia, and the Virginia Peninsula)
- Valley Program for Aging Services
- Virginia Arts Festival
- Virginia Beach Rescue Squad Foundation, Inc.
- Virginia Children’s Chorus
- Virginia Headwaters Council Boy Scouts of America
- Virginia Health Care Foundation
- Virginia Peninsula Food Bank
- Virginia Veterans Services Foundation
- Wesley Community Service Center
- Western Governors University
- Western Tidewater Free Clinic, Inc.
- Williamsburg Area Faith In Action
- Williamsburg House of Mercy
- WINKS – With INtentional Kindness and Support
- Women’s Initiative
- Workhouse Arts Foundation
- YMCA (Greater Richmond Area, South Boston/Halifax County, Piedmont Family, South Hampton Roads, and Virginia Peninsula)
- Young Investors Group
- Your Wellness Inc.
- Youth For Tomorrow New Life Center Inc.
- YWCA South Hampton Roads
View the Sentara Healthcare Community Impact Report
Download the Impact report