In 2009, Sentara Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance airlifted 2-year-old Talia Jackson to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. A pit bull had viciously attacked young Talia, and she needed emergency care. She was treated at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.
Penny Jackson remembers the bites to her daughter’s face and head, and the worry she felt right after her baby girl was bitten.
Fortunately, she now has been left with only feelings of gratitude:
“Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of the gift you and God have given back to us,” she says, “and while your names have long ago faded from my memory, your faces and efforts to keep our family together will never leave me.”
Nightingale: serving, no matter the cost
Over nearly three decades and more than 700 missions per year, Nightingale has delivered seriously ill and injured patients to doctors. About half come from the scene of an accident. Others are transferred between medical care sites.
Most Nightingale missions fly to eastern North Carolina or Western Tidewater. Some fly to the Peninsula, Eastern Shore, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
First responders to an accident call the helicopter. They do so if a patient requires time-critical care; the closest hospital cannot provide care; or driving would leave an area without an ambulance. Nightingale has flown as many as six missions in a 12-hour shift.
Sentara Healthcare pays $2.8 million a year for Nightingale, and sometimes loses $1 million, due to about one-third of flight patients who are uninsured or on Medicaid. The average airlift costs $4,400. About $3,500 of that is reimbursed.
Patients’ wellbeing matters more than profit, and Talia’s mother appreciates the commitment to the community.
“Thank you for everything you do,” she says. “Please rest easy at night knowing that you are truly angels on earth, putting the lives of others, like my daughter’s and mine, back together one shift at a time.”