Norfolk, Virginia - July 6, 2000 - The Sentara Health Foundation recently awarded separate grants to the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach for the purchase of Automatic External Defibrillators (AED's) to assist victims who suffer sudden cardiac arrest while in a public place. Sentara provided the City of Norfolk's Fire and Paramedical Services with $19,500, and the City of Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Medical Services with $4,950 to launch one of the first community-wide public access to defibrillation initiatives in Virginia.
"We are extremely proud to be partnering with the Cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach to increase public access to defibrillation," says David L. Bernd, chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. "If we save even one life with these defibrillators, our investment in the health and well-being of our communities will be well worth it."
According to the American Heart Association, each year more than 250,000 Americans die of sudden, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Many of these deaths could be prevented with access to a defibrillator, a device that delivers life-saving shock therapy to the heart. Formerly only available to rescue personnel, recent advances in technology have created defibrillators that are smaller, lighter-weight, more affordable, and designed for use by private citizens.
Sentara Health Foundation Director Gina Pitrone says the cities' requests for funds to support defibrillation coincide not only with a national trend, but also with a cardiac health initiative already underway at Sentara.
"The death rate from coronary heart disease in Hampton Roads is the second highest in Virginia, with the highest rate being in the City of Norfolk," says Pitrone. "One of the Foundation's goals is to help decrease the incidence of heart-related deaths in our community, and we clearly share a common goal with both Norfolk and Virginia Beach. We're pleased to be able to assist their efforts to provide life-saving defibrillator equipment in public facilities where the largest number of people will be helped. It is through foundation grants like these that we continue our mission-driven tradition of giving back to the community."
"We are very grateful to Sentara for assisting us in funding this innovative program which will place a total of 12 public access defibrillators in key public buildings in Norfolk," says Battalion Chief David B. Palmer, Medical Operations, City of Norfolk Fire and Paramedical Services. "By joining together as PAD partners we can maximize our respective resources to benefit our community and to improve our overall treatment of cardiac patients."
According to Palmer, the Sentara grant matches monies previously received from the Virginia Department of Public Health's Rescue Squad Assistance Fund for implementation of the program. In Norfolk, the 12 defibrillators will be placed in the following locations: Scope Coliseum (2), Chrysler Hall, Chrysler Museum, Harrison Opera House, Harbor Park, Waterside Marketplace, the Public Safety/General District Court Building, Granby Municipal Building, the Fire and Paramedical Services Training Center and Norfolk City Hall (2).
In Virginia Beach, grant money will support the purchase of three defibrillators to be placed in the following city facilities: Pavilion Convention Center, Virginia Beach City Hall Building and Princess Anne Recreation Center. The defibrillators purchased with the Sentara grant will supplement Virginia Beach's participation in a nationwide study being conducted on the use, value and effectiveness of public access defibrillators.
"The Virginia Beach Department of EMS hopes to establish a model program other agencies to observe," explains Ed Brazle, Division Chief, Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services. "We anticipate the success of this program to serve as a catalyst that encourages other municipalities and private organizations to purchase their own defibrillators."
The Sentara Health Foundation was established in July of 1998 to improve health and quality of life and to further Sentara's not-for-profit mission of serving the community. Each year, the Foundation disperses $500,000 to worthy organizations to support health-related programs and services in our community.