It has been our long-standing tradition, The Caring Tradition of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, to provide compassionate, high-quality care for anyone who turns to us for help. Regrettably, some in our community don’t have the same access to high-quality care that many of us may take for granted. A lack of health insurance or financial means, or a lack of general awareness and resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle, can limit access to the right care, creating health disparities for many in our community.
Health disparities are inequalities in health outcomes for certain groups, when compared to the general population, and are often associated with differences in socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, gender, or geographic location (rural vs. urban). Many of these inequalities can be prevented by increasing awareness, aggressively promoting education, identifying public health interventions, engaging in community collaboration to reduce barriers, and expanding access to all modalities of high-quality care.
One example of a national health disparity is the inability to afford medications. Locally, Sentara Martha Jefferson has partnered with the United Way to help support the RxRelief program, providing medications—many of them life-saving—and eyeglasses to people in our community with lesser means. We also actively support the Charlottesville Free Clinic and The Women’s Initiative, a Charlottesville-based organization that provides mental health services to women regardless of their ability to pay. Also, you can read about another special initiative, the Photovoice Project, which Sentara Martha Jefferson recently provided, in collaboration with other community organizations, for girls ages 11-15 to help them understand the health disparities in their own community.
Taking care of this community, together with many partners, is the fabric of our core values at Sentara Martha Jefferson. We participate in a variety of other outreach initiatives, including our support of the Sisters Keeper Collective, through the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, that supports about 45 African-American and Latina doulas who serve as advocates and birth sisters for women of color before, during and after the birth process. We also support the United Way’s Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring, bringing together individuals across the region to give back. Through these activities, we are able to advance our Caring Tradition beyond the walls of our organization.
As a community hospital, we recognize that it is our privilege to serve those in need, positively impacting the well-being of our community, and we enjoy sponsoring events that support our ability to advance our community’s health agenda. This includes spreading the word at community events such as Fridays after Five and our own Sunsets with Sentara, where the community can mingle with and get to know our team members on a personal level. You can read more about these events in this issue.
I would like to say how thankful I am for our entire team, for the work we do both inside the hospital and out in the community, and for the people who entrust their healthcare needs to our compassionate team at Sentara Martha Jefferson.
Wishing you a healthy, happy holiday season!
Jonathan Davis, FACHE, President, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital