FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 1, 2020
Reinvent Hampton Roads
Contact: James K. Spore, President & CEO
Statement of John O. “Dubby” Wynne, Chairman of Reinvent Hampton Roads
EVMS, ODU, Sentara and the Commonwealth of Virginia, with Reinvent Hampton Roads (RHR) as a fiscal sponsor, agreed to undertake a study earlier this year to identify opportunities and strategies to strengthen the Hampton Roads health care ecosystem. It should be noted that on November 30, 2020, EVMS advised Reinvent that it would withdraw from the study. That study has now been completed. The findings of the study reinforce several commonly known facts: that the health status of Hampton Roads lags the rest of the Commonwealth and is particularly poor for minorities, the less educated, and lower-income residents; that employment and GDP growth in Hampton Roads lags other regions of Virginia and most other metropolitan areas nationally; and that Hampton Roads attracts far less federal and industry funding for health sciences research than other parts of the state.
The study also finds that as a region, we have significant untapped potential to realize improvements in our health status and economy by strengthening the working relationships among key industry stakeholders. The current fragmented efforts of each of the region’s leading institutions do not have the level of coordination or scale required to design and implement the systematic health improvement interventions that are necessary. Fully realizing the potential for health improvement and economic development will require a far closer alignment of core interests among all stakeholders.
An important goal of the study was to identify means for providing EVMS with the financial capacity with which it has long sought to invest in realizing its vision. The study recommends significant incremental investment by Sentara, the Commonwealth, CHKD, and others to enhance EVMS’ capacity and grow the overall health sciences and clinical capacity to serve the region and improve health equity.
The study finds that progress towards these goals can be effectively realized by developing a new Health Sciences Center in collaboration between ODU, EVMS, NSU, Sentara and CHKD. A Health Sciences Center would create a unified organizational structure within ODU for all health sciences education and research programs; is the most likely to attract incremental funding from the Commonwealth, Sentara, CHKD, and other stakeholders; and will create the greatest opportunity for further growth.
An important recommended early priority is to advance the development of a joint school of public health between ODU, EVMS and NSU, building on significant capacity that exists today among these institutions to form the first fully-accredited school of public health in the Commonwealth. As has become clear this year, effective public health research, intervention development and translation to practice is more important than ever. Establishing a collaborative school of public health that can study, design and implement (in partnership with Sentara and CHKD) health interventions in Hampton Roads will allow our communities to rapidly realize necessary improvements in health status and serve as a cornerstone for future Health Sciences Center.
The purpose of the study was to stimulate dialogue within our health care community about opportunities and strategies that could be undertaken to make meaningful progress towards improving the community’s health status and economic potential. Reinvent encourages the continued dialogue and deliberation within our community needed for the stakeholders and others to evolve and align together in a new structure with new commitments. Pursuing the recommendations outlined in the study will take time, necessitate further deliberation, and will require the stakeholders to evolve and align together in a new structure and with new commitments.
The publication of this study is not the end of this work, but rather the beginning. Fully realizing the vision outlined in the study will take years, some elements will be realized sooner than others, and surely not every detail is correct. At each step along the way, we encourage the stakeholders to continue working together to refine and bring new ideas to the table. We will only be able to realize our full potential through continued dialogue and collaboration.
The final study is being released today. It is available on the RHR website.
About Reinvent Hampton Roads
Reinvent Hampton Roads is an outgrowth of a community leadership initiative of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation launched in 2012 focusing on regional economic competitiveness and became a 501(c)(3) non-profit in January 2016. Our organization serves as a community frame for game-changing activity that will improve the economic performance and profile of the region over time. The strategic focus of Reinvent Hampton Roads is creating more and higher paying jobs, building a culture where entrepreneurship can thrive and diversifying the economy. What we do is based upon sound research, an understanding that this is a long-term commitment, and that we will only succeed if there is collaboration, communication and an alignment of many efforts and initiatives throughout the region.