Empowering Physicians Across the Region
By Wendell Ward
In the heart of eastern Virginia, a revolution is quietly unfolding, heralding a new era for physicians and their patients. The Coastal Virginia Medical Society (CVMS) isn’t just a new nonprofit organization; it’s the harbinger of change, intent on reshaping the healthcare narrative and strengthening the physician community.
Drs. Greg Warth and Keith Berger have witnessed the transformation of the medical landscape, noting that the professionals who are often closest to the patient—the doctors themselves—have been increasingly sidelined. In a domain where their expertise should be paramount, the decision-making processes have become heavily influenced, if not entirely controlled, by insurance and hospital conglomerates.
“These entities prioritize business-centric values at the expense of patient care,” Dr. Warth explains. This concern is echoing in the hearts of countless physicians across the state.
“As physicians, we have lost our voice,” Dr. Berger points out. His poignant observation paints a clear picture in which patients ultimately suffer the consequences.“
Physicians have been stripped of their autonomy, the respect they once held in abundance, and the freedom to practice in the way they determine is best for their patients,” Dr. Warth adds.
Drs. Warth and Berger point to Virginia’s disastrous Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program as a prime example of this problem. COPN’s original purpose was to control costs and increase access to care. In practice, it’s become a bureaucratic quagmire, causing years of delay and imposing significant financial burdens for those looking to innovate or expand.
Dr. Warth explains: “As a state regulation, Virginia’s COPN program makes it next to impossible to establish a new medical facility or even add to existing services because of the bureaucratic maze.”
The core of the criticism lies in the purported effects of the program. By placing significant roadblocks in the path of expansion, COPN stifles healthy competition in the healthcare sector. In an industry where competition could lead to innovative practices, better services, and potentially reduced costs for patients, such a regulatory bottleneck does more harm than good. As it stands, the barriers erected by COPN allow larger hospital entities to establish monopolies, reducing choices for consumers and driving up medical costs.
For Drs. Warth, Berger—and countless like-minded peers—the Coastal Virginia Medical Society (CVMS) represents a beacon of hope. Here is a clarion call to unify physicians from across Hampton Roads and beyond, merging their collective strength. CVMS’s mission is to reclaim the voice of physicians in the dialogues that shape Virginia’s healthcare policies.
Dr. Berger underscores the gravity of the situation: “Our standing in medicine has been usurped by monolithic insurance companies and hospitals that limit our ability to provide the best and most accessible medical care to our patients. The Coastal Virginia Medical Society aims to correct this imbalance. We hope to influence legislation positively and restore the stature and influence physicians rightfully deserve.”
“Through CVMS, we aspire to draft proposals and resolutions, channeling them through the Medical Society of Virginia and, ultimately, to the legislature,” Dr. Warth adds.
The birth of the Coastal Virginia Medical Society in January of 2023 marked the forging of a united front in the battle for superior healthcare in eastern Virginia. A merger of the Norfolk Academy of Medicine, Chesapeake Medical Society, and the rejuvenated Virginia Beach Medical Society, the CVMS emerged as a formidable voice aiming to alter the course of healthcare in the region.“
While national organizations like the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians play critical roles, local challenges require grassroots solutions.” Dr. Warth explains. “The larger landscape of Virginia still benefits from the Medical Society of Virginia, but without robust local foundations like the CVMS, even such institutions might wane in their ability to help with solutions to eastern Virginia’s particular problems.
”Dr. Berger agrees. “As physicians, we need to re-establish ourselves as leaders in the healthcare community,” he says. “For too long, we’ve been sidelined in the decision-making processes. Our expertise has been consistently overshadowed by administrative and business agendas. The Coastal Virginia Medical Society aims to change this status quo. By pooling resources, we can offer myriad benefits to our members while amplifying the collective voice of doctors.”
The benefits of aligning with CVMS are manifold. From professional assistance such as legal consultations, accounting services, and insurance support to personal perks like discounts at local events, restaurants, and stores—CVMS ensures its members receive a comprehensive package of benefits.
CVMS is also a formidable ally for those looking to set up a new practice, change jobs, or even obtain assistance in recruiting. In addition, the organization extends unmatched support in areas such as information technology, risk management, psychological wellness, and current healthcare education.
The CVMS proposition is clear: by joining, physicians don’t merely gain an organization; they gain a community, a voice, and an arsenal of resources.
“We aim to provide such a wide spectrum of benefits and services that joining becomes a no-brainer, “Dr. Berger says. “Why wouldn’t you want to join?”
The society’s ethos is simple: a solitary voice might get drowned out, but an organization of hundreds of physicians will be hard to ignore.
For Virginia physicians who believe in the necessity of their profession, CVMS offers solid ground. For doctors who wish to have a decisive say in the rules that impact the care they give to their patients, and who feel the weight of responsibility but lament the limits of their individual influence, the Coastal Virginia Medical Society is a platform for unity, advocacy, and positive change. For physicians longing for the autonomy, respect, and influence their profession deserves, the Coastal Virginia Medical Society beckons. Together, physicians can reshape the future of healthcare in Virginia.
Board members not pictured:
David Archer, MD, CVMS Director-at-Large
Professor of Ob/Gyn Specializing in Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility
Director, Clinical Research Center, EVMS, Norfolk, Virginia
Cynthia Romero, MD, CVMS Director of Education
Family Practice, Chesapeake, VA
Director of the Brock Institute for Community and Global Health
Former Principal Health Advisor to the Governor, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Virginia General Assembly, and Board of Health.
Past Virginia State Health Commissioner.