Hundreds benefit from free MedAssist event

Pictured, from left, Cardinal Innovations Project Support Specialist Ashley Enoch and Piedmont Community College nursing program students Haley Lunsford and August Fox assist NC MedAssist participants acquire free items.

On Jan. 10, NC MedAssist hosted a free over-the-counter medicine give-away at Caswell County Parks and Recreation in Yanceyville, serving a projected 750 individuals.

Misty Moore, Senior development director with NC MedAssist statewide non-profit organization based out of Charlotte that covers 20 counties in North Carolina, said in addition to proving a free mobile pharmacy every week, MedAssist provides for individuals all across the state of North Carolina who are uninsured and/or low income with mail-order prescriptions.

“We also have a senior care program for individuals who are aged 65 and over and have a Medicare Part D Plan,” said Moore. “We can help them if they fall into a donut hole.”

Insurance donut holes are coverage gaps that increase the amount one pays for prescriptions and other services. With plans such as Medicaid that have limited financing pools, donut holes can be an annual occurrence.

“Today is for anyone who expresses a need. They don’t have to be qualified. They may have insurance or they may not; they may have Medicaid or they may have a private insurance company and still come in here to get a little help stocking medicine cabinets to get them through maybe the rest of the winter. We have items on hand where they can treat acute illnesses at home,” said Moore.

Participants filled out item request forms and sat in a DMV-style queue. As their numbers were called, volunteers took the forms and shopped for them. Participants shifted from station to station this way, passing through vendors and additional free items.

“We try to make sure that whatever flow we have for the participants works well, ensures they hit all the stops, is easy to understand what we have and what they may receive, and tries to help answer any questions that they may have,” said Kinzie Luce of Charlotte, Mobile Free Pharmacy Volunteer Events Manager.

“We have medical consultants that help answer questions about drug interactions and things like that,” said Luce.

All consultants were local and 89 people signed up to volunteer.

Caswell County Health Department monitored the flow rate of participants and efficiency of volunteers.

“We are using this as a public health exercise. The Health Department is responsible for dispensing to the population medication, antibiotics, or whatever is needed in a major event like a pandemic, outbreak, or something really dramatic like a terrorist attack. So we have to practice moving people through the lines quickly and orderly,” said Marcy Williams, Health Dept.

“I’ve been the observer at many of these and we usually don’t get the general public to show up in numbers like today. Seeing this in person is important to us because it’s less abstract than just talking about it. That helps us better mentally prepare for the real thing. This requirement developed after 9/11,” said Williams

Organizing each event takes approximately three months and costs $7,500.

“We start our strategy by talking to the community, finding the community resources like Caswell Family Medical Center and Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, and pull them all together to help us plan this because they know their own community better than we do,” said Luce.

“Whatever they need, we try to be that place that has all the resources,” she said.

Alamance Cares offered free STD screening services.

Caswell Family Medical Center provided consultation.

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare was the primary sponsor.

“The main mission of MedAssist is to have people not have to choose between putting food on their table or providing medicine,” said Luce.

Meredith Peffley, community engagement specialist, said, “Cardinal is devoted to community wellness as a whole. Obviously not everybody that we’re serving today is a Cardinal member, but we’re dedicated to Caswell County as a whole and that’s why we are here.”

Cardinal Innovations covers 20 counties in North Carolina and has supported Caswell and Alamance Counties for seven years.

Caswell County Manager Bryan Miller said the event was all-hands-on deck for Caswell County department participation. Even library staff volunteered he said.

“Whether or not Cardinal Innovations brings this back to the county, I think we’ll look into funding sources to be able to do this next year as well,” said Miller.

Leftover supplies stay in county and go to schools, senior centers, and other organizations.

With two and a half hours remaining, nearly 500 people were served, said Moore.

Participants were allowed up to 10 items from the free OTC pharmacy.

Discount mail order offerings from MedAssist include treatments for diabetes, high cholesterol, heart conditions, mental health, asthma, and antibiotics.

For more information visit MedAssist.org; or contact 704-536-1790.