Wednesday, December 6, 2023

This center is for victims, families, first responders, and residents affected by the May 31 tragedy

Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Sentara)
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital (Southside Daily/Courtesy of Sentara)

VIRGINIA BEACH — In partnership with Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, the city is planning to open and operate a long-term recovery center for victims, families, residents, and first responders who’ve been affected by the May 31 mass shooting.

Sentara will manage and operate the “VB Strong Center.”

In their formal meeting Tuesday, City Council unanimously voted to accept and appropriate a $3 million grant from the Department of Criminal Justice Services through the Victims of Crime Act to establish the center.

The Aug. 20 meeting agenda reads, “the VB Strong Center will be dedicated to serving as a multi-agency resource and referral center.”

Dale Gauding, spokesman at Sentara, said the new support center has a tentative “soft open” date scheduled in early October at Landstown Commons where clients will have access to community resources, case management professionals, on-site childcare, and traditional and non-traditional therapy like yoga and painting.

“Any service rendered at the center is confidential and free-of-charge,” he said. “If we should have to refer them out for a service not offered at the center, the wellness coordinator will work to refer them to someone who accepts their insurance.”

Until then, Sentara is working to develop a staffing plan and recruit professionals and specialists during their hiring fair the week of Aug. 26. They’re looking for patient care services managers, social workers, community engagement specialists, insurance verification representatives, operations coordinators, and pediatric wellness program specialists.

For access to service during nights, holidays, and weekends when the center is closed, Gauding said there’ll also be a 24/7 crisis hotline.

“The center will be staffed by knowledgeable and caring professionals to help people access resources to help them build strength and resiliency in the aftermath of this incident,” city officials said.

RELATED STORY: May 31 shooting aftermath: Surviving victims have spoken

Gauding said over time, Sentara will meet with city leaders regularly to “evaluate the effectiveness of the services provided.”

Additional funding for the operation of the VB Strong Center will come from the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program through the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime, according to the Aug. 20 meeting’s agenda.

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