Eastern Virginia Medical School, Old Dominion University, and Sentara Healthcare are assets to the Hampton Roads community. Yet, each could achieve more and provide greater impact for the region and the Commonwealth of Virginia if they develop stronger partnerships (perhaps including mergers of functional areas) and better align their efforts. ReInvent Hampton Roads contracted Manatt Health to conduct a study as to how this alignment might best proceed. EVMS participated in that process in good faith, expecting transparency in the process and opportunities for robust discussion amongst participants. Unfortunately, this did not occur. As a result, the EVMS Board of Visitors delivered a vote of "no confidence" in Manatt Health and withdrew from the existing process.
EVMS, however, remains committed to improving the health of Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth. EVMS also believes that stronger partnerships between EVMS, Sentara and ODU are still possible through a process that employs significant discussion and engenders trust among those parties. Achieving this outcome, much less taking the first steps, will require putting the needs of Hampton Roads first and committing to an unprecedented level of transparency among the three anchor institutions. Success also will require an understanding and acceptance that each institution must experience meaningful benefits from the final result and that each institution will be required to compromise and embrace significant changes for the good of all three anchor institutions and the Commonwealth.
The Path Forward proposal provides an opportunity for a “hard reset” of the process. The previous recommendations resulted from an attempt to move far too quickly to adequately address the inherent difficulties of closely aligning three complex organizations. The previous process ignored critical elements (such as accreditation requirements and impacts, assured funding mechanisms, and sustainability of enduring partnerships). Perhaps most importantly, the process lacked transparency and actual dialogue between all parties.
This proposal provides an expanded timeline (three phases spaced over seven years) in which to address difficult, yet critical, operational issues. It provides a starting point (not a final model) to inspire genuine dialogue and actual engagement. Crucially, it provides a realistic time horizon in which all parties can build trust and move confidently forward. Importantly, the three anchor institutions need not wait seven years to begin experiencing benefits. Incremental changes provide not only an opportunity to build trust and align cultures and policies but also an opportunity for each partner to feel the benefits of closer alignment in the interim.
As a school founded by the community, for the community, EVMS remains committed to improving the health of Hampton Roads and the state overall. Despite problems with the previous process, EVMS also remains committed to operating in good faith and doing the difficult work of finding a mutually rewarding model of collaboration with Old Dominion University and Sentara Healthcare. We invite these anchor institutions to join us in this commitment and find a path forward that engages not only the three anchors but other community and state-level entities in building a more robust health ecosystem for Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth. Read the Path Forward recommendations.