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When drones will begin delivering medications to Virginia's Eastern Shore

'If we can put the health back in healthcare... we should do all that we can do'
Riverside medication drone delivery
Posted at 4:49 PM, May 21, 2023

ONANCOCK, Va. — For those people living in remote areas of the Eastern Shore, getting medication may soon become easier.

Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital recently received a $1.9 million federal grant to begin a drone program to deliver medication.

“We started by looking at what are the possibilities or drone delivery of medications, medical supplies, up and down the shore and the first thing that came to mind was Tangier Island,” said hospital president Nick Chuquin.

Tangier Island is a remote island off the west coast of the Eastern Shore, and getting there is difficult. A public ferry runs May-October, otherwise, residents have to get there by private boat or plane.

“There is sometimes a delay of five to six days before they can get much-needed medication or medical supplies,” said Chuquin.

Michael Thomas, a pharmacy technician at Rayfield’s Pharmacy said transportation is a barrier for many patients.

“A lot of the patients that we have rely on public transportation, especially when they come to the store. They have to look and make sure the bus isn’t coming back or they may miss their ride back home,” said Thomas.

He said any improvement for the community is welcomed.

“If we can put the health back in healthcare, try to get our patients taking things on time the way they’re supposed to, if there’s a way to make that happen, we should do all that we can do," Thomas said.

The drone is starting delivery around Onancock this summer, with service beginning to Tangier Island later this year.

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