Today Manatt Health Strategies released the results of a review convened by ReInvent Hampton Roads to explore potential opportunities across higher education and health care organizations to strengthen the region's health care ecosystem.

The report from Manatt outlined opportunities to increase collaboration with regional stakeholders to create a multi-institutional health sciences partnership that systematically addresses the social determinants of disease; disease prevention and health promotion programming; access to care; and health care outcomes.

The centerpiece of the effort going forward is establishing the first accredited School of Public Health in Virginia, which can coordinate disease prevention and health promotion efforts and attract significant federal funding to improve population health in Hampton Roads. Old Dominion University already has many of the required elements in place for accreditation of a School of Public Health and will partner with all willing collaborators on this important initiative.

"The health disparities that exist in Hampton Roads, especially among underrepresented populations, remain too critical for EVMS, Norfolk State, Old Dominion University, CHKD and Sentara to not jointly seek solutions for our region," said Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick.

An accredited School of Public Health would train a public health workforce that can carry out disease prevention interventions and health promotions in the region, and also build a greater capacity to respond to health emergencies such as COVID (staffing testing, screening and surveillance programs, as well as contact tracing activities). Additionally, it would significantly contribute to biomedical and health research, with an emphasis on regional collaborations that reduce local health disparities and catalyze a Hampton Roads biotech sector.

While the EVMS board yesterday voted no confidence in the Manatt study, ODU believes that the region needs and deserves a School of Public Health and a better-aligned health sciences ecosystem to serve the needs of Hampton Roads and the commonwealth.

ODU produces the largest number of health sciences graduates in the region, as well as the greatest percentage who stay in Hampton Roads to provide health care, while helping diversify the workforce as a whole.

In addition, Old Dominion produces the second largest percentage of STEM-H graduates among Virginia's doctoral institutions. ODU also enrolls more African Americans than any other state-supported four-year institution in Virginia. Strengthening our partnership with Norfolk State will offer expanded opportunities for the region by building a diverse talent pool of clinical educators, health care professionals and researchers.

The final study is available on the ReInvent Hampton Roads website.

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