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Virginia hospital readies drone medication delivery to remote Eastern Shore homes

Bruce Crumley | May 22 2023 - 1:10 am PT

Patients in eastern Virginia can expect to see the time and effort required to get prescription medication they need considerably reduced with the nearing launch of a new drone delivery program for remote locations.


Drone medication deliveries are being prepared by Virginia’s Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital Group, whose facility in Onancock on the peninsula forming the eastern perimeters of Chesapeake Bay is the overseeing operation. The service will provide faster access to prescriptions for Eastern Shore residents and inhabitants of Tangier Island, the latter of whom currently rely on or organize their own car and boat transportation to obtain orders, which can take nearly a week to arrive.


Assisting the hospital in the activity is UAV startup DroneUp, which is headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA, just south of the intended area of aerial service.


Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital Group’s medication delivery project is being supported by a $1.9 million grant from the US Department of Transportation. The agency’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation program selected the drone shuttle proposal as one of 59 innovation pitches that were awarded financial backing.


Hospital senior vice president of strategic initiatives Sally Hartman says turning to drone delivery in the same way retailers and food companies have begun reaching customers faster and at lower costs made sense in getting critical medication to people living off Virginia’s beaten track.


“We are always looking for innovative ways to provide care for our patients,” said Hartman of the hospital’s expected June service launch with DroneUp. “This partnership provides us with the opportunity to support patients in more rural communities by improving access to prescription medications with fast at-home delivery.”


Riverside’s drone transportation of medication will be pursued in two stages, with the initial planning and prototyping work using DroneUp UAVs to make mock deliveries to remote trial locations around Virginia’s Eastern Shore already under way. Phase two will begin live test runs from Riverside Hospital to patients’ homes, which will expand and transition into regular operation next month.


Hospital senior vice president of strategic initiatives Sally Hartman says turning to drone delivery in the same way retailers and food companies have begun reaching customers faster and at lower costs made sense in getting critical medication to people living off Virginia’s beaten track.




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