A great gift for Nightingale’s anniversary

Published 8:42 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

There are people in Suffolk who would no longer be with us if it weren’t for Sentara’s Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance service.

Nightingale, which celebrated its 35th anniversary last month, has flown more than 20,000 flights since 1982. In the relatively short period from 2013 to 2016, 426 of those missions were to and from Western Tidewater.

That’s 426 people in Western Tidewater who had suffered some sort of advanced medical trauma or heart attack and whose treatment would have been delayed or even impossible without the quick transportation Nightingale offers from remote locations and hospitals to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which is one of only five Level 1 trauma centers in Virginia.

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It’s 426 people who benefited very directly from being able to travel the shortest distance without their ambulance having to navigate through traffic or tunnels, all the while being cared for with the most advanced medical technology and techniques available.

And this excellent service is in the midst of upgrades that will boost the already high level of care even further.

A helipad will be built at the Sentara Belleharbour campus as part of an expansion project that’s scheduled to start there in May. The helipad will enable Nightingale to land at the satellite facility without the necessity of firefighters being called to the scene to provide landing zone assistance, further streamlining the process of moving patients from the Suffolk facility to Norfolk.

There are also Nightingale-related upgrades on tap over at Sentara Obici Hospital, where a beacon will be installed that will allow the helicopter to land under instrument flight rules. That means Nightingale will be available for trauma patients and others who need quick transport, even in some weather conditions that would have eliminated such travel as an option under current flight rules.

All this means that an already vital component of medical care for folks in Suffolk and the surrounding areas is about to get even better.

That’s a great way to celebrate an anniversary.