Sentara’s CEO on the Board of ReInvent Hampton Roads Raises Questions
In late 2019, Manatt Health Strategies was hired by ReInvent Hampton Roads, which positions itself as a “community leadership initiative” out to create high-paying jobs in Hampton Roads. ReInvent funded the bulk of a $175,000, four-month study to “identify options of cooperation/relationship among Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), Sentara Healthcare and Old Dominion University (ODU).”
However, according to records obtained by Checks and Balances Project, the scope of the study soon expanded, with Sentara Healthcare paying for most of it. EVMS leadership was largely cut out of the process.
When The Virginian-Pilot asked ReInvent’s Chair, John Wynne how ReInvent got involved with the Manatt study, he asserted, “Even that is confidential, to be honest with you.”
Months after the initial study was launched, Richard V. Homan, MD, President and Provost of EVMS learned that Wynne had been working with Sentara, ODU and Manatt without involving EVMS.
Perhaps what raises the most questions are that Sentara CEO Howard Kern is on ReInvent’s board of directors, as seen in this screenshot from Howard Kern’s biography page (11/19/20):
As early as December 23, 2019 Homan wrote EVMS Board of Trustees Member Wayne Wilbanks of his suspicion that Sentara was maneuvering to free itself from an obligation of financial support:
Meeting with Governor Northam
Two weeks after the revelation that Wynne had been secretly working with Sentara, at a meeting set up by Wynne with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne, Homan learned of Manatt’s final recommendation: It was to dismantle EVMS’s and combine it with Old Dominion University.
On Nov. 5, EVMS Rector Theresa S. Emory, MD, wrote to Manatt’s Thomas Enters:
On November 10, Emory wrote to Homan:
Sentara Is a $6 Billion Hospital Giant
Sentara Healthcare is a tax-exempt nonprofit. Estimates generated from publicly available financial statements show a 62% increase since 2015 in its net assets to an estimated $6 billion by mid-2020. For context, this roughly $5 billion more than the cash reserves of Virginia.
This year, Sentara’s funding of EVMS is projected to be $22 million.
Three months ago, Sentara announced its intention to merge with North Carolina-based Cone Health to form an entity that will be valued at $11.5 billion.
If Sentara reduces or eliminates its funding of EVMS, who will benefit? Front and center will be Sentara’s Kern, who will be at the helm of an expanding nonprofit healthcare giant.
Do you have information to share? Send us a note through our confidential tip line.
Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.