NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As dignitaries gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a few yards away, paramedics and firefights gathered to rescue a woman near the Berkley supermarket. Placed on a gurney, the patient grabbed her head in an apparent indication of the source of pain.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

“If that [medical call] had been tomorrow she literally could have walked across the street and been taken care of,” said Dr. Jordan Asher who is the Chief Physician Executive for Sentara.

Wednesday, Sentara will start seeing patients in the new Community Care Center at East Berkley Avenue on South Main Street. Sentara officials tell 10 On Your Side no patient will be turned away because of their inability to pay as the medical staff will offer prevention and treatment.

“What can we do to make that not happen [morning ambulance transport]. Maybe it was her blood pressure, who knows? But also, how do we set up the conditions of life to really make it where people can get the health and wellness that they truly need?” said Dr. Asher.

The center will also offer a different type of medicine for a generation in need of positive role models.

“Dr. [Keith] Newby will spend time here- an African American physician- and other physicians may spend time here… and maybe from that experience, they [Berkley youth] will pursue medicine,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander.

Alexander grew up in Berkley and he recalled the osmosis-like effect of spending hours in the office of Berkley-based physician Dr. Tucker who helped in shaping the young Alexander.

The center is part of a three-pronged plan that includes the Sentara Mobile Care-Hampton Roads and embedded care for the homeless at the Union Mission.

Near the scene of the morning rescue, residents hope the new Sentara model can be used to rescue lives across the region.

“Hopefully things will get better for other people’s lives,” said Karen Jordan who has lived in Berkley for 40 years.

Pastor William Tyree of First Baptist Berkley played a significant role in the development of the center and he played a role in the ribbon-cutting ceremony by offering a prayer. Pastor Tyree used the occasion to explain how health inequities create systemic problems for patients in his community.

(WAVY photo/Regina Mobley)

See the full remarks below:

Eternal God as we cut this ribbon to open the doors of this Community Care Center we do so with celebratory thanksgiving. We are thankful for answered prayer and the initial steps this opportunity will afford us to be an instrument of Your Grace and Peace. Where there is hatred, we will sow love. Where there is injury, we will provide healing. Where there is doubt this place will serve as a reminder of our faith. And where there is despair, we offer hope.

As we cut the ribbon to open the doors of this Community Care Center, we do so answering the clarion call to continue to work to eliminate disparities and inequities in access to affordable quality healthcare. We are outraged by the decisions too many in our community are having to make: Do I purchase medicine, school clothes, or groceries? We renew our commitment to reduce preventable deaths in men, women, and youth caused by chronic, treatable, manageable illnesses.

As we cut the ribbon to open the doors of this Community Care Center, we do so accepting the challenge of authentic community engagement. We look forward in anticipation when Corporate Social Responsibility will be both ethical and moral as determinants of health are addressed in ways that are both sustainable and build capacity.

As we cut the ribbon to open the doors of this Community Care Center, we are grateful for the lives that will be touched and made better. So Divine Master grant us the wisdom to bring glory to You as we do good by our fellow human being. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!

Courtney Johnson Gregory, a visitor in the Berkley Community, is hopeful the Sentara Community Care model will be established across the region to save lives.

“It’s important that we all go out and support it because the more support the more funding and we can make sure that we keep it in this area but in other areas in the entire region.,” said Johnson Gregory.

10 On Your Side has news to smile about. Dr. Asher says the new Sentara model may include dental care in the future. For appointments and additional information call the center at 757-388-1830.

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