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EVMS, ODU, NSU join forces to create the ONE School of Public Health

Leaders said the school is a giant leap forward in the fight against health disparities in the 757.

NORFOLK, Va. — Educational leaders are stepping up to battle health disparities across Hampton Roads. 

On Thursday, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, and Eastern Virginia Medical School pledged to create the "ONE" School of Public Health.

“The time is right, we are ready, we’re excited and we’re committed,” said ODU President Brian Hemphill.

With the stroke of a pen, the presidents at each school signed a memorandum of understanding for the ONE School.

“This discussion had been about two years in the making and required us to work together to build something that I believe is really special for Hampton Roads,” said EVMS Interim President Alfred Abuhamad.

Leaders said the school is a giant leap forward in the fight against health disparities in the 757.

“Looking at the challenges we are facing with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart conditions, infant mortality rate,” Hemphill said. “There are so many categories we are leading in, all the wrong categories.”

ODU’s new President Brian Hemphill said the partnership will aim to do better.

“We need those healthcare heroes,” Hemphill said. “We need those individuals that are truly going to step in on the frontlines and support our citizens.”

The pandemic only magnified the need to fill the health disparities gap. NSU President Javaune Adams-Gaston said it’s a valuable lesson for future health professionals.

“We know that there were disparities in the early days of getting the vaccine, getting the testing,” Adams-Gaston said. “We know that is changing, and we can change those things, but those things only change when we have a cultural context of understanding why it is that people are hesitant.”

Doors at the ONE school won’t open for a few years. ODU officials said right now, there are no plans for a building.

“They would then take courses at each of the three institutions,” said ODU Health Services Dean Bonnie Van Lunen. "Because of our proximity, it’s really easy to do that.”

The One School received $5 million from the state and $4 million from Sentara Healthcare.

“Our mission is to improve health every day and obviously public health is a big part of that,” said Sentara Healthcare Chief Physician Executive Dr. Jordan Asher.

Leaders are excited to create a healthier Hampton Roads.

"We truly believe that the best is yet to come as we are moving forward," Hemphill said.

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