Ellen and David Turner’s relationship with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital began shortly after they moved to Charlottesville some 38 years ago. “Our youngest child was born at the former hospital facility,” recalls Ellen. “We were impressed with the quality of care we received then, and we’ve been impressed ever since.”
When Ellen decided she wanted to become a hospital volunteer about 10 years ago, Sentara Martha Jefferson welcomed her with open arms. Jackie Martin, head of community outreach at the time, enlisted Ellen as a volunteer and quickly trained her to go out into community public schools to teach Health Education Standards of Learning to students. Working in city schools, especially with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, was a great fit for Ellen. “My heart was in helping members of the community who had access to fewer opportunities. I had always felt that way, and Jackie was so supportive and helped channel my motivation so effectively.”
Over the years Ellen also has volunteered as a front-desk concierge at the hospital, which she enjoyed because of all the interaction that came with the position, and as a patient advocate. “I loved being a patient advocate,” says Ellen. “I enjoyed just sitting with patients and talking to them—sometimes that was just what they needed. Sentara Martha Jefferson’s emphasis on treating the whole person—and not just treating a medical condition—is really special.”
David agrees that Sentara Martha Jefferson offers a unique brand of comprehensive patient care. “We really like the hospital’s philosophy and what it stands for in the community,” he says. “A local hospital is a really important asset to its community, and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital complements the variety of medical services available in our region in a very rich way.”
Both David and Ellen were raised to value the opportunity to give back. “Being supportive of local institutions is something I grew up with and saw my parents doing,” notes David. “We are lucky to have such a wonderful resource here. I’ve gotten to know a number of the hospital administrative staff over the years, and I hold them in very high regard. They have developed a serving culture that is commendable, and they offer a standard of care that is both competent and personal. In my experience, that combination is rare.”
A real estate developer, David has sponsored the annual Martha Jefferson Champions Cup Golf Tournament for the past several years, and has helped build several of the regional Sentara Martha Jefferson medical practice facilities, including in Palmyra and Ruckersville. “I’ve been engaged from the construction angle, and I like that,” he says. “Hospitals and medical facilities have special needs, and I’ve enjoyed being part of the interaction among the architects, medical staff and administration—putting together clinics that combine all those interests and expertise, while remaining a patient-centered environment.”
The Turners envision a bright future of growth for Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. When asked what they would like to see as that future unfolds, both point out that they hope the Caring Tradition remains the same. “I hope they’ll be able to retain the integrity of a local-facing institution while adapting to a regional hospital culture,” says David. “We want Sentara Martha Jefferson to remain personal, with the integrity, caring culture and principles it has stood for over time,” adds Ellen.
“Volunteering is a real service to others,” observes Ellen. “Sentara Martha Jefferson emphasizes that in their philosophy of service. I feel like if you can, you owe it to your community to care for those who need help—whether that means donating financially, in terms of offering time, or otherwise. When you give, you receive so much more. I’ve certainly felt that with my time volunteering at Sentara Martha Jefferson.”