Our History: Early 1900s

About Sentara Healthcare

About Sentara Healthcare

Early 1900s: Paving the way for the future

Martha Jefferson Sanitorium

Martha Jefferson Sanatorium in 1916.

As the years passed, new hospitals opened in Hampton Roads to meet the community’s growing demand, including Sarah Leigh Hospital which was founded by Dr. Southgate Leigh in 1903 (now Sentara Leigh Hospital). As the Norfolk Retreat for the Sick was thriving, it moved to a new location and was renamed Norfolk Protestant Hospital.

Meanwhile, future Sentara member hospitals began making history. In 1903, Martha Jefferson Hospital (then the Martha Jefferson Sanatorium) was founded by seven Charlottesville physicians; the new 25-bed hospital opened its doors one year later. Rockingham Memorial Hospital opened in Harrisonburg in 1912, in conjunction with the RMH Training School for Nurses (later renamed the RMH School of Nursing). In 1913, Albemarle Hospital was founded by Dr. Oscar McMullan and Dr. John Saliba, as the first hospital in Northeastern North Carolina. The hospital opened its doors one year later in Elizabeth City, NC, in 1914.

Advances in techniques, concepts and training were gradually introduced over the years, such as the method of departmentalization in 1926, which meant that the more than 40 physicians on staff at the then “Norfolk Protestant Hospital” (Sentara Norfolk General) could specialize in specific conditions instead of being overwhelmed with all aspects of care. Martha Jefferson Hospital also reorganized in 1929, moving into a new state-of-the-art hospital building in downtown Charlottesville and transitioning to a not-for-profit community hospital. In 1936, Sarah Leigh Hospital became Leigh Memorial Hospital.

Many changes happened as new hospitals emerged, while others continued to grow. In 1937, Rockingham Memorial Hospital opened a new pediatric wing and modern operating room, becoming the fifth largest hospital in Virginia. The first hospital in Virginia Beach, General Hospital of Virginia Beach, opened at the Oceanfront in 1948.

View a photo slideshow from this period:

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