Clinic’s pharmacy helps save lives

Published 11:24 pm Saturday, February 9, 2013

By Margaret Rosner

For most of us, our home is a place of refuge, a place where we can shut out the ills of the day and nurture our souls. Our homes, no matter the size, location or décor, provide us a place to rest, revive, and renew.

At Western Tidewater Free Clinic, we strive to be a “health home” to our patients, most of whom suffer with chronic illnesses. This means standing with our patients throughout the process of identifying their illness, understanding the diagnosis, filling their prescriptions, and educating them on the significance of their medications and lifestyle changes that often go hand-in-hand with chronic disease.


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“Ms. C” is one of several patients whose health has been significantly affected by her ability to fill prescriptions. Ms. C is a 47-year-old mother and grandmother with multiple chronic diseases that include asthma, insulin-dependent diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Despite being employed as a cashier, she does not have medical insurance and lives well below the federal poverty level. The list of life-saving medications required by Ms. C is lengthy, with a wholesale value of more than twice her monthly salary.

However, thanks to two wonderful programs, WTFC has been able to help patients like Ms. C by providing access to more than $10 million worth of free medications donated by pharmaceutical companies. Since the clinic opened in June 2007, the Medical Assistance Program, funded through the Virginia Health Care Foundation, has allowed the Clinic to provide free medications to its patients.

In November 2011, the limited-use/on-site pharmacy (funded by Obici Healthcare Foundation) opened, greatly expanding the clinic’s ability to fill prescriptions in a timely manner. Last year, 18,699 thirty-day supplies of medication were dispensed on site. They had a total retail value of $3,020,437. While prescriptions are filled at no charge, many patients do make a $4 donation.

In addition to these two programs, the pharmacy at Obici Sentara Hospital has filled and donated prescriptions that were otherwise unavailable, making a significant difference in the health of the patients served.

Despite the enormity of Ms. C’s needs, the clinic has been able to provide her prescribed medications. As a result, her health has improved, and she has been able to stay employed — something that would not have been possible without the necessary medication for her debilitating issues.

In her own words, “If it were not for the clinic and me being able to see my doctors and get my medicines, I would have died when I was only 45 years old. The clinic saved my life, and the best part about that is they let me live long enough to see my four grandchildren.”

Ms. C said that even when she had insurance, she did not have enough money for the co-pays and would have to go without medication in order to pay for food and shelter.

Being part of our patients’ “health home” means working together and pooling our resources for a common good. As a volunteer pharmacist for WTFC, I can honestly say that being able to help patients like Ms. C has been one of the most rewarding opportunities of my life.

Please consider joining me as part of the WTFC family and our health home.


Margaret Rosner is a retired director of pharmacy for Sentara Healthcare and is currently a volunteer pharmacist for Western Tidewater Free Clinic. For more information — and details on other services available at the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, call or email Pamela Witt, director of clinical services, at 923-1060, ext. 7017 or