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Welcome to the Northampton Medical Services Foundation Website.  The Medical Services Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization established in 2014 by a group of community leaders who have a desire to provide support to partnerships that enhance the availability and quality of a full range of medical services in Northampton County.

The planned move of the local hospital from its current location in Nassawadox to Onley will create a lack of timely access to emergency care for the citizens of much of Northampton County.  The Foundation has been established to create a financial platform which can be utilized to provide support to medical facilities able to meet urgent care and emergency care needs within Northampton County.

Our Organization's Mission:

a) to support organizations committed to providing medical services to Northampton County citizens;

b) to financially support organizations and pursue partnerships with medical services providers that share the goal of providing an emergency medical facility for Northampton County citizens; and

c) to support organizations committed to the best practices of telemedicine available for the delivery of emergency care in Northampton County.

History of Medical Service in Northampton County

Shore Memorial Hospital was established in 1927, as Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital through the efforts of local residents.  The establishment of the hospital and its ongoing provision of service to the community included donations of the land to build the hospital and significant amounts of financial support.  The hospital has served the needs of Eastern Shore since that time. 

Northampton County, along with many other rural areas in America is facing a critical challenge within its health care delivery system.  Decreased reimbursement, increases in uninsured patients, low population density, and difficulties in staff retention present challenges to all rural health facilities and we are not immune.

The current building was opened in 1971 and the Emergency room was renovated in 1996, followed by renovations of the Intensive Care unit, and the Radiology and Surgery Departments in 1997.  The Cancer Center was built in       . 

During the 1990s, the Board of Directors created Shore Health Services, Inc. a healthcare system including a cancer treatment center, primary care, rehabilitation, home care and cardiopulmonary wellness services.

In 2009, the Board of Directors affiliated with Riverside Health System and changed the name of the hospital to Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. 


The Challenge

Riverside Health Care plans to move services provided at the current Nassawadox to Onley in 2016. This includes moving the hospital, the physicians’ offices, the cancer center and the Emergency Room.  Ambulance transport and turn-around times will increase such that the timely response to an emergency will not be possible for many citizens of Northampton County. 

According to a survey by Rural Healthy People 2010, emergency medical response was frequently named specifically as a major rural health problem.   Northampton County shares this problem with many other rural localities, and it will be exacerbated by the hospital move. 

The time elapse from time of injury or medical event is critical.  The “Golden Hour” refers to the critical first hour from incident to treatment during which, if treatment is received, the chance of survival is greatly increased.  The geography of Northampton County presents challenges in getting patients to an Emergency Room promptly.  Driving times cannot be based on distances “as the crow flies”.

The move from the Nassawadox location would greatly increase transport times to the hospital by approximately 30 minutes for many people within the county.  This increase in transport time means that many people in need of emergency care could not possibly get to the emergency room within “the golden hour” when emergency services do move to Onley.    By the time the EMS would get to the patient, prepare them for transport and then get them to the emergency room, their chances of survival would be greatly decreased.  Patients with traumatic injuries may then require transport to a trauma center, necessitating costly transit over the Chesapeake Bay by helicopter.

Northampton County Department of Emergency Services (EMS) has the primary responsibility for timely emergency response.  Currently, the EMS locations and equipment are owned and controlled by the three EMS volunteer agencies and supported by paid County EMS staff.  Nightingale Air Ambulance provides transport to the trauma center at Sentara Norfolk General, when needed.  Several heliports are located throughout the County. 

A high percentage of 911 emergency calls do not require transport to an emergency department and can possibly be avoided with a change in protocols and the use of telemedicine technology.

Planning for a Better Future

There is a need to look critically at how medical services are managed in our community and plan for the best delivery of these services, with a particular focus on urgent care and emergency care.

Northampton County government must define and fund an EMS structure that is responsive to this new challenge. 

A partnership with a hospital must be established to coordinate with Northampton County's EMS structure and to provide medical services at a Northampton location using the latest in urgent care, emergency care and telemedicine technology. 

There is a need to partner with community organizations such as Eastern Shore Rural Health (ESRH) to most effectively care for patients in the community to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and readmissions, particularly those involving emergency transport.  ESRH provides primary care throughout the County, and, while they do not provide emergency care within their scope of service, they are an important partner.

Board of Directors

H. Spencer Murray

H. Furlong Baldwin

Cela Burge

Dr. Ervin Jones


H. Spencer Murray

John Coker

Click HERE for biographical information


How can you help?

You can help to save lives in Northampton County by giving a fraction of your good fortune to fund the Medical Services Foundation.  When you contribute to the Medical Services Foundation you have a unique opportunity to make a direct impact on the delivery of healthcare in our community. 

.... I somebody signs up for a PayPal business/merchant account, I can put a link here for donations ...


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This site was last updated 07/25/15