When U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine served as Virginia’s governor, one of his priorities was expanding a certain Virginia medical school.
“Today, that investment is paying off,” Sen. Kaine says. “I’m thrilled to see EVMS provide such an incredible boost to the Hampton Roads community and economy.”
He and other officials are still buzzing about an economic study of EVMS published last fall. It reports that the school now has a $1.2 billion annual impact in Hampton Roads, up from $824 million in 2012. And EVMS has grown into the region’s 12th-largest private-sector employer, up from 20th in 2012.
“EVMS unquestionably has established itself as one of the foremost economic engines in the region,” says the report’s author, James Koch, PhD, Board of Visitors Professor of Economics Emeritus at Old Dominion University. “What we are witnessing is the emergence of an ‘ed-med’ economic sector in Hampton Roads, and EVMS is central to this story.”
Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms recognizes EVMS’ impact in this new ed-med sector. “It’s essential in our quest to accelerate research and entrepreneurial activity in our emerging biomedical corridor in Princess Anne Commons,” Mayor Sessoms says.
Serving as the hub of a burgeoning industry is a long way from serving the 27 students EVMS opened with in 1973. “The economic trajectory of EVMS is astonishing,” Dr. Koch says, “given the institution’s relatively modest initial financial base.”
Today, more than 2,000 employees and 1,400 students can be found on the EVMS campus. About 800 of those students attend EVMS’ School of Health Professions, whose 21 degree programs act as a vital pipeline to the region’s diversifying healthcare workforce. Hampton Roads also benefits from EVMS’ education-based partnerships, such as an innovative MD-MBA program with William & Mary and a joint Master of Public Health program with ODU.
Sharing the spotlight
Another area of growth at EVMS — research — often brings national attention to the region.
For example, Paul Marik, MBBCh, the EVMS Foundation Distinguished Professor in Internal Medicine and Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, made headlines last year when he developed a possible cure for sepsis. L.D. Britt, MD, the Edward J. Brickhouse Chair in Surgery, the Henry Ford Professor of Surgery, and Chair and Professor of Surgery at EVMS, was named principal investigator on a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund the first national effort to quantify surgical disparities. EVMS research was featured on the cover of The Journal of Immunology last fall, and a team of EVMS cancer scientists recently had a study published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander says the school has been key in making Hampton Roads a healthcare destination for the mid-Atlantic. “We are grateful for the visionary leaders of EVMS,” he says. “Not only are they ushering critical innovations in medicine and helping us grow our economy, they are continuing to improve the delivery of healthcare and saving lives.”
Leading EVMS since 2013, Richard Homan, MD, President and Provost of EVMS and Dean of the School of Medicine, says that EVMS’ model as an academic health center “serves as a recruitment tool for high-quality faculty members that typical community hospital systems cannot recruit. That provides a great added value to the region and opportunities for our patients to receive highly specialized care by talented physicians and faculty.”
For Rick Weddle, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, EVMS is a huge driver of the region’s brand and enhances the area’s quality of life. By recruiting talented people from around the country, he says, the school adds to Hampton Roads’ intellectual capital and cultural diversity.
“That makes our region much more attractive when it comes to bringing in new firms and higher paying jobs,” Mr. Weddle says. “There are companies and investments that we wouldn’t be able to compete for if it wasn’t for the presence of EVMS.”