Issue 6 Stories

Keswick Couple Believes in Sentara Martha Jefferson's Caring Tradition

Shortly after moving to Keswick in 2001, Thelma and Ray Murphy stopped by Martha’s Market. The fundraiser, sponsored by The Women’s Committee (TWC) of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, raises money for women’s health services. A breast cancer survivor, Thelma was impressed with the event and drawn to TWC’s mission. She became involved with TWC in 2004, first as a volunteer helping out with events, and then becoming a member in 2005. She has been a board member since 2015.

“I decided to join The Women’s Committee because of the organization’s focus on women’s health,” Thelma says. “I have three sisters, a daughter, a mother, two grandmothers and lots of aunts—so women’s health is important to me. I wanted to be involved in helping the women in my community.”

The Murphys, who have been married 45 years, consider themselves community advocates for Sentara Martha Jefferson. For more than a decade, they have been dedicated volunteers and generous donors to the hospital, offering their expertise, time and resources to support and enhance its services.

Ray, a retired McKee Foods executive, serves on the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation Board and the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Blue Ridge Regional Board, and previously served on the Martha Jefferson Hospital Board of Directors. A certified public accountant, he also serves on the Sentara Healthcare Finance Committee in Norfolk. The Murphys are both avid golfers, and Ray helped launch the Martha Jefferson Champion’s Cup, the hospital’s successful annual golf tournament.

Beyond his work with Sentara Martha Jefferson, Ray has been a volunteer and donor with the Charlottesville Free Clinic and has served on the boards of visitors for Virginia State University and James Madison University. Both Ray and Thelma are active in their church, and with the local food bank and Meals on Wheels.

“I enjoy staying busy, being productive and giving back to the community,” Ray says. “In retirement I have more time to give, and I’ve been able to expand my service to community organizations. I enjoy doing things to keep my mind sharp, and this keeps me healthy.”

The Murphys, who have two adult children and three grandchildren, speak highly of the Sentara Martha Jefferson staff and the quality of care delivered at the hospital. A strong community hospital is important to them, Ray says, because “we all need medical attention at some point.” While Charlottesville has a number of superb healthcare options, the Murphys believe that Sentara Martha Jefferson fills an important niche, providing a wide range of outstanding services delivered in the Caring Tradition.

“It’s never pleasant to have to be in the hospital, but the staff at Sentara Martha Jefferson makes it as positive an experience as possible,” Ray notes. “There’s a culture there that fits with every staff member’s goal of providing compassionate care. You can’t manufacture that—people are born with it, and that’s what the employees at Sentara Martha Jefferson demonstrate every day.”

Ray’s prior service on the hospital board got him involved with the decision to build the new hospital on Pantops, and later with the decision to affiliate with Sentara.

“These have been positive changes,” Ray says. “We had outgrown the downtown facility, and it would have been difficult to modernize and continue to deliver the latest standards of care in that location. And the affiliation with Sentara made sense because both organizations have similar attributes when it comes to high standards in safety and patient care. It was a marriage that has paid dividends in quality, safety and patient satisfaction.”

For Thelma, helping out with TWC’s Breast Cancer Screening Day has been particularly rewarding.

“When the patients leave after having their free mammograms, they make positive comments and have smiles on their faces,” Thelma says. “It just gives me a good feeling to see that.”

“We’ve been blessed,” Ray adds, “so it’s important for us to help others who don’t have the resources to take care of themselves. Anything we can do to help build up our medical institutions is good for society.”

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