Customers at the Prescription Assistance Network of Stark County Inc. can’t always pay the $2 donation fee for a prescription. But that’s OK, no one is ever turned away if they can’t pay. The charitable pharmacy at 408 Ninth St. SW in Canton provides individuals who do not have prescription insurance with medication.
Customers at the Prescription Assistance Network of Stark County Inc. can’t always pay the $2 donation fee for a prescription. But that’s OK, no one is ever turned away if they can’t pay.
The charitable pharmacy at 408 Ninth St. SW in Canton provides individuals who do not have prescription insurance with medication.
Last year, the pharmacy filled more than 32 prescriptions with a value of $2.6 million for more than 8,000 county residents many from Western Stark County, director Carol Risaliti said.
The organization’s 2013 budget was $350,000, she said.
Last year, the pharmacy spent about $15,000 on medication. The pharmacy depends mostly on donations, Risaliti said.
Most of the donations come from long-term care pharmacies. Others come directly from drug companies, she said.
The Prescription Assistance Network asks clients to make a donation of $2 for one prescription, $4 for two and $5 for three or more, Risaliti said, but clients only are required to pay what they can. Some pay nothing, others pay it forward.
“Someone tried to give me 62 cents today,” part-time pharmacist Verna Paschal said. “You try to tell them to keep it, but they want to pay what they can. Others will pay extra, because last month they didn’t have it. But this month they do and they know someone else won’t have it.”
Paschal, who joined the pharmacy in June, said she enjoys working at the pharmacy.
“I worked retail for over 20 years,” she said. “Here, I feel like a real pharmacist.”
She said the clients are grateful for the help they are receiving.
“They are very grateful,” Paschal said. “If it wasn’t for us, they would have to choose between eating and medication.”
Besides the fees, the pharmacy relies on funding from a number of organizations including the Health Foundation of Greater Massillon and Stark Community Foundation, donations and fundraising, Risaliti said.
Last year, she said, the pharmacy received $27,000 from the Health Foundation, and a grant from the Stark Community Foundation funded Paschal’s part-time position.
The pharmacy employs a full-time pharmacist, Kathy Cather, who also is a faculty member at Northeast Ohio Medical University.
The relationship with NEOMED allows fourth-year students to intern at the pharmacy 40 hours a week for a month. Risaliti said the students are knowledgeable and clients enjoy working with them.
“Our students and staff have plenty of time to address the needs (of clients) and discuss the medication,” she said.
SERVING THE UNDESERVED
Risaliti said the foundation recently revamped its requirements because some people were “falling between the cracks,” especially the working poor.
Individuals without prescription insurance and that are at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level are eligible for prescriptions from the pharmacy.
After a short meeting to determine if a person is qualified for the service, clients will receive a benefit card good for one year. Clients must re-enroll annually, Risaliti said.
Canton resident Joseph Beres has been out of work for more than two years. As a diabetic, Beres needs to monitor his blood-sugar levels by testing them a few times a day. The Prescription Assistance Network provided him with lances, testing strips and a monitor — things he couldn’t afford without their help. They also provide needles and other prescription medication.
“After my insurance ran out, I didn’t have medication for a long time, and I was very ill,” he said. “I found about the program and it took a half an hour to get qualified. Now I have what I need.”
Risaliti said the pharmacy is able to provide about 90 percent of the medications clients need. By law, the pharmacy can not fill prescriptions for narcotics.
“We can’t get all things for all people, but I think we get very close,” she said.
The Prescription Assistance Network of Stark County Inc., at 408 Ninth St. SW, Canton, provides prescription medication to uninsured county residents. To be eligible, a person must be at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to qualify — or $28,725 for an individual or $38,775 for a couple. To set up an appointment to sign up, call 330-445-1087.