Apr 23, 2012
4/23/2012 10:44:00 AM Blue Bag Media No comments
BY RYAN BERRY
GREENVILLE – Since 1972, Family Health has been an organization that provides a safety net for those in need of medical care. From the migrant workers in the 1970s to the general public today, Family Health has consistently held to its mission statement: “building healthy lives together.”
Family Health has always aspired to provide quality health care to all people regardless of their ability to pay. All employees of Family Health work together to ensure patients are getting the best care possible. Although the organization continues to grow and add new services, one department within Family Health is celebrating its 10th anniversary in May – The Family Health Pharmacy. While it may appear the pharmacy is merely a dispensary of medicine, at Family Health it is much more.
In 1999, Dr. Tom Brown approached the administration about a concern for his patients. He stated, “I can see and treat patients for their health care needs all day long, but if the patients have no way of filling their prescriptions due to transportation or financial issues it is pointless for me to see them.” In 2001, a small hallway near the reception desk in the original Family Health building was remodeled and the pharmacy was up and running. Janell Claudy, pharmacist, determined if they could fill 50 prescriptions a day they could sustain the pharmacy operation. It wasn’t long until they were averaging 100 prescriptions a day. Jean Young, Executive Director of Family Health, stated this collaborative effort allowed for better patient care because when patient outcomes improve and hospitalization is avoided, the cost of healthcare decreases.
The pharmacy continued to grow and soon the WIC office volunteered to move out of their space into a conference room so the pharmacy could expand. In 2007, when the new building was built, the pharmacy found its permanent home. Today, the pharmacy averages 225 to 250 prescriptions a day.
The pharmacy is able to help identify patients who may qualify for other programs because while filling prescriptions is a necessity, there is a lot of work done by the pharmacy staff that goes unseen. One way Family Health is able to help its patients afford high cost medications is through the Patient Assistance Programs offered by drug manufacturers. The pharmacy staff assists the patients in completing the complicated paperwork for companies like Pfizer and Astra Zeneca who donate medications to qualified patients. The patients are asked to pay a $5 handling fee per medication for this service. Of the nearly 56,000 prescriptions filled last year at Family Health Pharmacy, over 3,600 were filled through this program. The savings to patients exceeded $1.8 million.
The Federal 340B drug pricing program enables Family Health Pharmacy to pass along sliding fee discounts to qualifying patients based on their income. If patients qualify for a sliding fee discount with Family Health they can also save on prescriptions. In addition to offering financial assistance through several different programs, the pharmacy also accepts most prescription insurance plans, including Express Scripts, Medicaid and Medicare Part D. A low cost generic list is also available for 30 and 90 day supplies.
While the pharmacy can help individuals temporarily with the cost of medicine through programs like FAME or an emergency fund set up by the Family Health staff, their goal is to ensure patients are getting needed medications on a regular basis. Prior to the pharmacy services being implemented, patients relied heavily on samples given by their provider for their medication needs. Claudy pointed out, “samples only go so far.” Often the doctor doesn’t have the samples the patient requests.
The pharmacy staff also works hand-in-hand with the providers at Family Health to lower costs by determining if a generic medication or an alternative medication would work. This collaboration is a great benefit for Family Health patients.
Doctors are vigilant in making sure patients are taking the correct medications. When the doctor deems necessary, they ask a pharmacist to sit down with a patient (who has brought in all their medications from home) to determine if the medications are safe to use together and if they are being taken correctly. Patients sometimes see more than one provider and have prescriptions filled in different pharmacies, making it difficult for pharmacists to determine if a patient medication therapy is safe.
Family Health Pharmacy is available to Family Health patients only. Family Health has three locations Meeker Road in Greenville, Arcanum and Versailles.
According to Young and Claudy, the majority of Family Health’s patients do not require financial assistance, but providing a safety net for those who do is a big part of the organization’s mission.
The pharmacy is currently participating in the National Patient Safety Pharmacy Collaborative. They work alongside the providers to target uncontrolled diabetic patients. Pharmacist make sure patients have a thorough understanding of their medications and encourage them to reach their personal health goals.
In addition to offering assistance to patients, Family Health Pharmacy is actively involved in student development. High school students interested in the pharmacy field are scheduled to come for a day and job shadow in the pharmacy. Sinclair Community College sends students to fulfill a 50 hour internship for their National Pharmacy Technician Certification. Colleges of Pharmacy also send students at various levels of their education for required rotations. The pharmacy was selected to receive a national Peer to Peer Mentorship Award as a best practice site that made funds available to assist in their student development program.The current staff at the Family Health Pharmacy includes Janell Claudy-Pharmacy Director, Shane Stachler-Technician, Nicole Crase-Pharmacist, RoxAnne Riegle-Technician, Rachel Barhorst-Pharmacist, Andrew Fryman-Technician, Shaun Hyre-Technician, Jane Simmons-Technician, Amber Camacho-Technician, Cathy Rife-Technician, and Sharon Trissel-Technician.