Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health in partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s largest community development organization, were joined by Governor Ralph Northam and other Virginia leaders to announce a $100 million investment to address social determinants of health in underserved communities across the Commonwealth. This investment builds upon Sentara’s commitment to create healthier communities and improve the quality of life for Virginians most in need.

Sentara partners with LISC to announce $100 million community investment

Investment will improve housing, create economic opportunity and drive community wellness

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Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health in partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s largest community development organization, were joined by Governor Ralph Northam and other Virginia leaders to announce a $100 million investment to address social determinants of health in underserved communities across the Commonwealth. This investment builds upon Sentara’s commitment to create healthier communities and improve the quality of life for Virginians most in need. The announcement was made at the Sentara Heart Hospital.

Sentara will contribute $50 million to advance these goals in partnership with LISC, which has committed to assembling an additional $50 million from public and private sources to complement Sentara’s investment.

Sentara and LISC’s partnership will create housing and economic opportunities to address some of the most fundamental issues in public health. Beyond traditional health care, research has shown that social determinants of health, the conditions in which people live, work and learn, have a significant and lasting impact on health outcomes. According to county health rankings, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, about 80 percent of a person’s health can be explained by factors such as income, education, neighborhood conditions, and the health behaviors shaped by these circumstances.

“Addressing these social issues is usually not possible inside the walls of a health care facility. If we want to reduce the need for emergency or medical care, we must have a positive impact on our patients and health plan members in their communities,” said Howard P. Kern, president and CEO of Sentara Healthcare. “Sentara’s mission is to improve health every day, in partnering with LISC, this investment has an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on public health for generations.”

As part of this investment, LISC will open a local office in Hampton Roads to drive programmatic action and capital deployment, in partnership with its national team. LISC Hampton Roads will complement LISC’s long-standing program office in Richmond and its unique Rural LISC investment program, which has supported efforts throughout the Commonwealth.

“We know from both data and experience that when we catalyze opportunity for residents and communities, we can help people live longer and healthier lives,” said Maurice A. Jones president and CEO of LISC, which is in the midst of a 10-year, $10 billion national effort to connect community investments to health gains. “By partnering with an integrated health system like Sentara, we can push aside barriers to health care, housing, education, and employment, while supporting a shared prosperity throughout the Commonwealth. We are grateful for Sentara’s commitment to the people of Virginia and to innovative approaches to community health.”

In 2017, more than 250,000 children in Virginia lived in poverty and over 50 percent of those children lived in households that spent more than half of their income on housing, leaving families with little room to spend money on transportation, exercise, medical care or healthy and nutritious food.

Sentara and LISC’s alliance will address these factors by facilitating the development and construction of new affordable housing, including supportive housing units for individuals with mental and behavioral health needs, as well as promote health care access and social services for residents. LISC and Sentara’s partnership also aims to prepare people for quality jobs in growth industries through training and coaching, as well as providing support to local entrepreneurs, with the goal of improving individual incomes and expanding local employment.

“As a physician, I know the critical role that communities play in determining health outcomes. Sentara and Optima have long been strong community partners dedicated to giving back and improving the health of Virginians through innovative, value-driven, and high-quality clinical care. This new partnership demonstrates a clear recognition of the importance of treating patients in a holistic way, and I am certain that this investment will be vital to our efforts to address the most pressing health challenges for generations of Virginians to come,” said Governor Ralph Northam.

“In line with Sentara’s integrated care model, this partnership embodies the Sentara mission ‘we improve health every day,’ propelling our communities forward by transforming housing, creating economic opportunity and empowerment and driving innovation and partnership,” said Dian Calderone, chair, Sentara Healthcare Board of Directors. “As a private, not-for-profit health system, we not only care about the communities we live in, but we also take action to make them healthier.”

“This investment builds on our legacy of commitment to people and communities across the Commonwealth,” says Dennis Matheis, president of Optima Health; executive vice president, Sentara Healthcare. “With this partnership with LISC, we’re positively impacting social determinants to improve wellness and quality of life for thousands of Virginians.”

For decades, Sentara has played an instrumental role in improving health outcomes across Virginia by providing routine charity care and contributions to local community organizations. In 2018, Sentara provided $390 million in community benefit and earlier this year announced $6.5 million to support local community health clinics and food banks.