Issue 5 Stories
Presidents Letter

What It Means to Be a Community Hospital

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” —Coretta Scott King

Sentara Martha Jefferson is often, and rightly, called a community hospital. I myself frequently refer to it as such, but sometimes this term can be used too easily, causing us to lose sight of what it truly means.

This is the first issue of Sentara Martha Jefferson Magazine since the Aug. 12 protests in Charlottesville, so I want to take this opportunity to talk about the emotional connection that is a part of delivering quality health care, to talk about how that day reminded us of what it means to be a community hospital.

During the week leading up to the protest, more than 30 members representing various departments throughout Sentara Martha Jefferson met daily to discuss the staff’s ongoing preparations. Our plans were in place.

Early on the day of the protest, team members came in to make final preparations. And until 11 p.m. that night, the leadership team worked from a central command area to coordinate our efforts and ensure that we were prepared to handle whatever protest-related scenarios might arise—scenarios that, unfortunately, became all too real as the day progressed.

The day was challenging for everyone at Sentara Martha Jefferson—not due to the injuries we encountered in our Emergency Department (we handle serious emergencies every day), but because our team wasn’t immune to the heartbreak of seeing what was taking place in the community so many of us call home.

After helping provide medical care to several of the individuals who were struck by the car on the Downtown Mall, our caregivers were some of the first to learn of the police helicopter that crashed, killing two officers. Tears were shed as the heartbreaking news just seemed to keep coming.

Reflecting back on that day, the events of Aug. 12 serve as a strong reminder that the team at Sentara Martha Jefferson doesn’t just provide healthcare services to the people in our community—we are a part of this community.

At the unity-driven Concert for Charlottesville on Sept. 24, Stevie Wonder said something rather poignant: “Don’t talk about it, be about it.” I took this statement to be a call for all of us to be involved in our community. I try to live that sentiment personally by being active in Charlottesville’s Boys and Girls Clubs, the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Senior Center, and I encourage all of you to do whatever you can to make a difference as well.

A community isn’t just something made up of streets and buildings—it is created by groups of people who contribute to our ecosystem in one way or another to make it a special place. Teachers and police officers and rescue squad members. Volunteers who give of their time. People who help feed the hungry, and those who minister to the spiritual needs of others.

At Sentara Martha Jefferson, we work to improve health in our community every day. We are a part of this community, and we feel blessed to be able to serve it. To serve you. That is our role, and it is one we take seriously every single day.

Warm regards,

Jonathan Davis, FACHE

President, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital

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