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Riverside Health System and the Urban League of Hampton Roads Announce Partnership

April 07, 2022

Bill Downey, CEO for Riverside Health System along with Gilbert Bland, President & CEO for the Urban League of Hampton Roads, announced a new partnership to expand health,workforce, and educational opportunities in our community. This significant investment reflects Riverside Health System’s commitment to the Urban League of Hampton Roads to address racial health disparities and social determinants of health for the Hampton Roads community.

“We are proud to announce our significant partnership with The Urban League of Hampton Roads,” stated Downey. “Our investment with the Urban League represents a direct investment to under-resourced populations and communities who will benefit from improved access to quality health care services and programs designed to help address racial health disparities. We are proud to partner with one of the oldest civil rights organizations in the country to help us better serve and support historically marginalized communities throughout Hampton Roads.”

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are a major determinant of population health outcomes. Depending on how they are measured and defined, SDOH may account for up to 90% of the variation in health outcomes between communities. Previous analysis examined how factors such as race and ethnicity, occupation, poverty and rurality, and housing play a role in COVID-19 outcomes in Virginia and elsewhere. Access to health resources is often a factor underlying health disparities, while increasing access can help alleviate disparities created by other factors. Millions have lost jobs or income since the start of the pandemic, making it difficult to pay expenses including basic needs like food and housing. These challenges will ultimately affect people's health and well-being, as they influence social determinants of health.

“We are humbled by Riverside’s significant investment to the Urban League of Hampton Roads and commitment to reduce disproportionate levels of chronic diseases and health outcomes among marginalized communities of color,” mentioned Gil Bland, President & CEO for the Urban League of Hampton Roads. “Virginia is home to the 8th largest black population in the country and mirrors similar poor health outcomes, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, among others. Today’s announcement aligns with the nation’s focus on Minority Health throughout the month of April to bring greater awareness about chronic health disparities, the impact of social determinants of health for communities of color and solutions to address them. We are proud to partner alongside Riverside Health System to help the Hampton Roads community.” The partnership between Riverside and ULHR will help address Social Determinants of Health outcomes in Education, Employment, Health and Housing through the following initiatives throughout 2022:

  • Education: Project Ready High School Career & College Program
    A National Urban League Pillar Program designed to prepare African Americans and other historically underserved high school youth for college and careers.
  • Employment: Riverside Diverse Workforce
    This includes but is not limited to ULHR year-round initiatives such as COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Outreach, Food Basket Distribution and Outreach, Back to School Supplies Distribution and Outreach, ULHR Young Professionals & Guild Volunteer Engagement, and others.
  • Health: Food as Medicine Program
    To underscore the importance of diet and nutrition to overall health, Riverside Health System will launch a pilot Food as Medicine Program for underserved residents with limited access to healthy foods, and high reported rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and other comorbidities.