PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Drones are now delivering medication to people on the Eastern Shore.

WAVY first reported in April that Riverside Health System received a SMART grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project they hope will help patients in rural areas live longer.

The first flight took off earlier this week from Shore Memorial Hospital in Onancock with a box full of medication to treat high blood pressure. It made deliveries to three homes.

“When we think about disease progression, taking your medications is one of the best things you can do in order to, you know, help with diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and things like that,” said Cindy Williams, Riverside Health System vice president of pharmacy.

The Eastern Shore, she said, has a higher prevalence of uncontrolled hypertension than in the rest of the state. That is why Riverside decided to start with that medication.

Riverside is working with DroneUp and Old Dominion University (ODU) on the project, designed to remove transportation barriers in rural areas with an underserved population.

“Our end goal is to be able to get this drone to fly medications out to Tangier Island because, when we talk about lack of transportation and that medications only come once per week by the mail boat, that’s really a vulnerable population,” Williams said.

Project partners DroneUp and ODU, she said, are working with the FAA on ways to go beyond the current line of sight limitation, which is two miles, to reach the island, which is about 17 miles away. The next step will be to fly five miles to the shoreline.

Eventually they hope the sky will be the limit in delivering medications, lab work and overall better health to the Eastern Shore.

To learn more medical services offered by Riverside on the Eastern Shore, visit riversideonline.comAnd for more information on the Elevating Health Care Access Project, click here.