Stories to Watch in 2021: Future Uncertain for Healthcare Partnership

by Leona Baker

On Dec. 1, 2020, a report by independent consulting firm Manatt Health Strategies was released on the ReInvent Hampton Roads website. Among other findings, the report notes that our region has “significant untapped potential to realize improvements in its health status and economy by strengthening the working relationships among Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), Sentara, Old Dominion University (ODU), Norfolk State University (NSU), the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) and other critical stakeholders.”

The report specifically recommends the establishment of a health sciences collaborative in which ODU, EVMS, Sentara, NSU and CHKD would be founding members charged with developing milestones and an implementation plan for a more synergistic and robust regional approach to public health and education, a goal made more urgent by the challenges of COVID-19. It goes on to outline structural options for achieving this, including a potential merger of EVMS, ODU and Sentara health sciences programs into one unified health sciences education and research center that would report to the ODU board.

However, citing conflicts of interest and a lack of transparency in the process, EVMS pulled out of the study after vote of no confidence from its board a day before the study was published. ODU, meanwhile, released a statement saying that its leadership believes “the region needs and deserves a School of Public Health and a better-aligned health sciences ecosystem to serve the needs of Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth” and going on to tout the significance its role in health sciences education.

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