Suffolk’s many medical blessings

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Obici Hospital has always been a point of pride for Suffolk citizens. Stretching back to the hospital’s original building on North Main Street, it has always been a symbol of one man’s love for his wife and his adopted home, and also an emblem of a city’s desire to reach for lofty goals, to challenge itself toward the highest levels of achievement.

Suffolk’s pride in the hospital continued even after the new facility was built on Godwin Boulevard and the old one met the wrecking ball. And when Sentara Healthcare purchased the hospital in 2006, though some local folks mourned the corporatization of Suffolk’s healthcare, others saw the promise of great things developing from the relationship with the healthcare conglomerate.

The fulfillment of that promise was evident last week in the announcement that Sentara has been named the best-integrated health care system in the nation. The recognition from SDI Health and “Modern Healthcare” magazine addresses, among other things, the seamlessness of Sentara’s services and its financial stability. Suffolk residents are blessed that they have access to a hospital system — through both Obici and the North Suffolk BelleHarbour emergency facility — that strives to offer comprehensive services throughout the region.

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In fact, Sentara is just one of the medically related blessings that have come to the city in recent years. North Suffolk’s Harbourview community, in particular, has become something of a medical park, where Sentara and Bon Secours health systems are only the two cornerstones of a network of labs, specialists, general practitioners and testing facilities covering nearly every major condition and physical system possible.

Because of the medical development that has taken place in both North and South Suffolk, when a Suffolk resident gets sick or needs medical tests today, there’s a strong likelihood that much of the care he or she needs can be found right here in town. That’s a marked improvement over the days when even some of the most basic tests required a visit to Norfolk.

And it all started with a small hospital on North Main Street that was named after the wife of an Italian immigrant who fell in love with Suffolk.