EVMS, ODU and Sentara sign health center agreement
Institutions plan cooperation to improve region's health care
Eastern Virginia Medical School, Old Dominion University and Sentara Healthcare entered into a memorandum of understanding Friday to work toward a collaborative academic health center.
Officials from each institution will cooperate to improve health care disparities in Hampton Roads and to seek more consistent funding of EVMS from public and private sources, leaders said at the signing held at ODU.
ODU President Brian Hemphill, EVMS interim President and Provost Alfred Abuhamad and Sentara President and CEO Howard Kern signed the agreement, which comes four months after ODU, EVMS and Norfolk State University signed an MOU to form the state’s first school of public health. According to Kern, the Hampton Roads region is the largest metropolitan area in the nation without an integrated, state university-based medical school.
Hampton Roads is “leading in all the wrong categories,” with high rates of heart disease, diabetes, infant mortality and cancer, Hemphill said. Average life expectancies are also lower in Hampton Roads than other urban areas across the commonwealth.
“Health care is already at crisis levels in terms of talent development and workforce,” Kern added. “Strengthening our ability to train and deploy health professionals here in Hampton Roads is essential. Access to federal and private funding for medical and biomedical research is critical to our future economic development, as it has done in Richmond, Fairfax and Roanoke.”
Abuhamad said, “We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the health disparities in our cities, especially in Norfolk and Portsmouth. And we have a moral responsibility to come together to address this issue.”
As part of this agreement, each institution will appoint executives to meet regularly to discuss the potential of creating an academic health center, ways to further collaborate and methods to develop a sustainable financial model for local health education.
At the start of next year, the executives will produce a joint report to their respective boards, and the data will be used to prepare a progress report to the governor and the chairs of the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee and Virginia Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee by Feb. 15.