Milestones in Key Areas

Since 1888, four core themes have defined Sentara’s story: promoting quality, safety, and innovation; expanding access to healthcare; achieving a reputation for patient-centered care; and serving the community. Learn how these themes have developed across over a century of history.



Sentara has made landmark progress over the course of its history. Explore milestones in each of the following categories: community impact; awards and recognition; growth; and quality, safety, and innovation.

Community Impact

Sentara has always been dedicated to serving the community. Many of Sentara’s forerunner hospitals operated as charity organizations, providing high-quality care to all community members regardless of their ability to pay. Sentara carries on this tradition today with its commitment to non-profit status. Sentara and its hospital foundations work closely with community organizations, providing millions in grant funding every year to support local health programs.

Awards and Recognition

Sentara has built a national reputation for providing exceptional care to patients. Its efforts have been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Hospital Association’s Quest for Quality award, “A” grades for safety from the Leapfrog Group, being named one of IBM Watson Health’s Top 15 Health Systems in the nation and ongoing hospital magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This recognition is a testament to Sentara’s commitment to safe, effective, and patient-centered healthcare.

Quality, Safety and Innovation

Sentara emphasizes quality, safety, and innovation in everything we do. For over a century, Sentara has adopted the latest medical innovations and implemented new technologies for improved outcomes, safety, and efficiency. Its hospitals have made history, delivering America’s first in-vitro baby, performing Hampton Roads’ first organ transplants, and pioneering telehealth services. Its culture of safety and commitment to innovation help us improve health every day.


What would become of Sentara, which began as a 25-bed hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, founded in 1888. From these small beginnings, Sentara has grown into an integrated not-for-profit health care delivery system with nearly 30,000 employees, 12 hospitals in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina and the Sentara Health Plans division which serves more than 1.2 million members in Virginia and Florida. Sentara is one of the largest health systems in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and among the top 20 largest not-for-profit integrated health systems in the country.