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Nonprofit boosts medication access

A Richmond-based nonprofit started providing increased access to prescriptions through the mail during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some folks in Suffolk are benefiting.

Amy Yarcich, executive director at Rx Partnership, said the program has been successful so far, allowing people to get medications in a timely manner that also reduces their possible exposure to COVID-19.

“We know that mail delivery for medications is not a brand new idea, but it had always been the purview of the big guys,” Yarcich said. “We realized that a way to limit contact for patients and staff at clinics was certainly to use mail delivery.”

The program was initially going to run through July 31 but has seen so much success, and ongoing need, that it has been extended through at least June 2021. It has shipped nearly 1,000 packages with one or more prescriptions in each package.

Rx Partnership works with about 31 clinics across the state, including Chesapeake Care Clinic, which has some Suffolk patients.

“The mail delivery program has removed a large barrier for many of our patients access their medications, especially those with pre-existing health conditions and lack of transportation,” said Dourina Petersen, executive director of Chesapeake Care Clinic.

Yarcich said the speed of the mail delivery was an initial concern, especially given the well-publicized problems with the U.S. Postal Service this year, but there have been no issues with the speed of delivery so far. Patients and the clinic can even track how quickly the medication is anticipated to reach them.

Petersen said the Chesapeake Care Clinic’s experience with the program has been good so far.

“We tell everyone we know what a great program it is,” she said. “Our doctors can electronically send prescriptions to their pharmacy, just like you would any other retail pharmacy. They fill the prescriptions … and the patient gets it about two to three days later.”

Petersen said if the doctor wants a patient to start a prescription immediately, they can write a two-week prescription to fill at a local pharmacy, which carries them well past when the mail prescription arrives.

“This actually takes out that transportation issue, which is usually our number one barrier for our patients,” Petersen said. “It’s probably something we’ll keep doing after the pandemic, because it’s such a great benefit to our patients.”

The program is no additional cost to patients or the partner clinics.

The program does not yet work with Western Tidewater Free Clinic on mail delivery, but it does provide access to free brand-name medication as well as providing generic medication in partnership with WTFC.