March 8, 2012
Maury Regional Health Care Foundation teams with Dispensary of Hope to save lives
COLUMBIA, Tenn. — What would you do if you were unable to afford life-saving prescription drugs? That question has been asked by millions of people who have had to face what appeared to be a hopeless scenario for themselves or a loved one.
Through an innovative program begun in 2003, the Dispensary of Hope has provided an answer to that question. The Dispensary of Hope is a not-for-profit network of dispensing sites, sourcing partners and financial partners that provide medication to Americans who lack access to prescription drug coverage. The network offers short-term and long-term assistance to those under 200 percent of the poverty line. Nearly 10 percent of the nation’s population falls into this category.
Since its founding, the Dispensary of Hope’s goal has been to be the leading provider of pharmaceuticals to uninsured patients. The Maury Regional Health Care Foundation has been a partner in that effort since its inception. In fact, the Foundation entered this effort as one of the Dispensary’s pilot sites.
“No one should be deprived of the medicine they need because they can’t afford it, so when we were approached by the founders of the Dispensary to participate in this project, we were eager to team up with them to make a difference in the communities that we service,” said Foundation Executive Director Joe Kilgore. “We felt the way we could best address the biggest need in our community was through funding an annual subscription of $7,500 for the program at Maury Regional Medical Center,” said Kilgore. “This allows us to help as many as 250 patients annually.”
In 2011, the Dispensary filled 238 prescriptions for 136 patients, dispensing medications with an actual cash value of $116,902.
“That is a wonderful return on our investment, not only financially but certainly in terms of the benefits to the members of our community,” Kilgore said. “Patients who are able to use medications to control high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other conditions that contribute to their illness are less likely to have to be hospitalized.”
The Foundation provides funds for a variety of projects aimed at meeting health care needs throughout the region served by Maury Regional Medical Center and its affiliates. Projects have included operating a hospitality home for cancer patients and families of neonatal and critical care patients, providing automated external defibrillators for Maury County Schools, funding the After Breast Cancer program, providing health education programs for schools and more.
The Dispensary is a network of pharmacies, clinics, physicians, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors that team with financial partners like the Foundation to distribute unused sample medications that would otherwise be thrown away.
“It’s estimated at least 10 percent of sample medicines given to physician practices go unused each year. Meanwhile millions of patients go without,” said Christopher Palumbo, CEO of Dispensary of Hope. “Each year, more than $1.65 billion worth of sample medicine and over $800 million in hospital-based medicine expires and is destroyed, a waste of life-saving resources that the Dispensary is determined to get into the hands of the uninsured.”
Sample medications are distributed through two programs. The Instant Access Program fills the gap between diagnosis and long-term prescription assistance by providing a 30-day supply of select medications at a clinic or pharmacy. Patients can then be enrolled in the Continued Access Program (CAP) that provides access to medications and help managing prescriptions on an ongoing basis.
Referrals come from a variety of sources, including physicians, clinics and local health departments.
“The Dispensary of Hope has been a life saver, and I mean that literally, for many of the uninsured patients that are seen at the health department,” said Dr. Mark Brewer, a physician on staff at the Maury County Department of Health.
For more information about the Dispensary of Hope, call 888.428.4673 or visit www.dispensaryofhope.org.