Sentara Healthcare has donated $2 million to EVMS to support development of the first school of public health in Virginia. EVMS is teaming with Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University to establish the ONE (ODU, NSU and EVMS) School of Public Health. (In photo, representatives from Sentara were on hand to witness the signing ceremony last fall.) 

The new school will be vital to address pressing health disparities in the region, says Alfred Abuhamad, MD, Interim President and Provost of EVMS and Dean of the School of Medicine.

“We are grateful to the leadership of Sentara Healthcare for their generosity and recognition of the importance of establishing a school of public health in Hampton Roads,” says Dr. Abuhamad, also the Mason C. Andrews Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We know that health disparities plague our cities, and we have a moral responsibility to come together to address this issue. The new school is a shining example of the important work we can do when community partners collaborate.”

“Sentara Healthcare has had a long-standing commitment to medical education and improving the health of the communities we serve,” says Howard Kern, President and CEO of Sentara Healthcare. “We are proud to support EVMS as they participate with ODU and NSU in the development of a new school of public health. With the $4 million Sentara also contributed to ODU and NSU last year, we look forward to seeing the three partners collaborate to address community health disparities and focus on social determinants of health.”

Dr. Abuhamad and his fellow university presidents signed a memorandum of understanding Aug. 26, 2021, to develop Virginia’s first school of public health. Sentara Healthcare contributed $2 million to each of the community partners for a total of $6 million; state funding also has been set aside for the new venture.

Since EVMS opened in 1973, Sentara Healthcare has been a generous supporter and dedicated partner in the training of new health and healthcare professionals.

The gift to EVMS provides critical funding for the collaborative school, with a focus on equipping graduates with the knowledge and skills to minimize health disparities and improve public health in Hampton Roads.

The ONE School of Public Health will work to improve health outcomes in Hampton Roads, where significant health disparities exist in urban areas. Average life expectancies are markedly lower than state and national averages. The disparities are pronounced for underserved communities, particularly minorities.

The school will offer collaborative Master of Public Health and doctoral programs, continuing education opportunities, contemporary teaching modalities and educational opportunities through partnerships. It will develop research addressing important regional, statewide, national and global public health challenges. Students will conduct community-based research focused on health disparities, determining the best ways to support preventative health care messaging.

The resulting school will build upon the history of public health leadership at each institution. ODU currently offers accredited undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs related to public health programming. NSU offers an accredited Master of Healthcare Administration program, while EVMS has master’s degree programs in healthcare administration and public health.