Clinic pharmacy opens

Published 10:34 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pharmacy: Margaret Rosner, pharmacist at the new Western Tidewater Free Clinic pharmacy, arranges the bottles of medications at the clinic Wednesday, just before the grand opening. The pharmacy has been providing medications since last month.

The 1,500 patients of Western Tidewater Free Clinic now have another valuable service available to them through the clinic.

The clinic now has a new pharmacy that provides free prescription drugs for patients who are receiving care at the clinic. The clinic held a grand opening Wednesday night for its new pharmacy, but it has been providing medications since last month.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Bobbie Chapman, chair of the volunteer committee on the clinic’s board of directors. “Our patients will benefit greatly from it.”

Email newsletter signup

The free clinic serves people who live in Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and have no access to any kind of health insurance.

The new pharmacy is funded partially by the Obici Healthcare Foundation and operates in cooperation with Rx Partnership, a public/private venture that offers free medications to 21 affiliates.

Rx Partnership gets pharmaceutical companies to donate supplies of about 132 brand-name medications in 378 different dosages. They then give those drugs to affiliate pharmacies at free clinics and community health centers.

“It’s been great,” said Margaret Rosner, a retired pharmacist who is running the pharmacy at the free clinic. “I think the patients are pretty happy with it.”

Right now, the clinic’s pharmacy stocks about 50 different drugs. They still are waiting on shipments from other pharmaceutical companies.

The drugs cover a range of conditions commonly seen in free clinics — diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, thyroid problems and more.

“So many of our patients have multiple chronic illnesses,” said Caroline Martin, president of the clinic’s board of directors. “What keeps them from sliding down that slippery slope is being compliant with their medications.”

The pharmacy is located right in the clinic and features an alarm system, a refrigerator for drugs that must stay cool and a computer with software to check for drug interactions.

In addition to Rosner, a pharmacy technician also is working at the pharmacy. The clinic also hopes to partner with a local university that offers a pharmacy program to offer internship opportunities.

The only cost to patients is a requested $4 donation for supplies of medication.

The clinic has previously offered a prescription assistance program, but that entailed ordering the medications and having them delivered, sometimes months later.

“This will make more medications available to more people,” said Gina Pitrone, executive director of the Obici Healthcare Foundation.