Program improves access to prescriptions in the New River Valley

Published: Oct. 3, 2020 at 6:26 AM EDT
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - A health clinic in the New River Valley is working to help patients get access to the free prescriptions they need, especially during the pandemic.

Inside the doors at the Community Health Center of the New River Valley, the team works with Rx Partnership, to get and directly ship that medication.

“The staff here go above and beyond to ensure that all of our patients have access to every avenue available for medications,” said nurse practitioner Tony Ramsey.

Rx Partnership launched the mail delivery system portion of the program in April, and it’s something that has been crucial during COVID-19 to get the medicine to people who suffer from chronic illnesses.

“Having them go to the clinic to go pick up their meds may put them and the clinic staff at additional risk that just isn’t necessary,” said executive director Amy Yarcich.

Yarcich said the partnership was launched in 2003 to get access to medications for people who need it the most. It works state-wide with 32 clinics around the commonwealth, and 10 clinics are now participating with the mailing portion. Shipping medicine helps those who live far from clinics or don’t have an easy mode of transportation to get there.

“If any of our patients or potential patients might think that any of their medications could be covered just give us a call and ask to speak to me and I can look up and see if any of their medications are covered,” said Debbie Harless, a medication assistance coordinator at the Community Health Center of the New River Valley.

With people losing their jobs, the clinic has seen a new influx of patients who can no longer afford their medication. If you’re uninsured and at the federal poverty level, you can qualify at the health center. It added the prescription mailing piece in July 2019.

“Some of them are moved to tears because they didn’t realize there are programs to help them and some of their common comments are now I can feed my kids, now I can pay my electricity,” Ramsey said. “These are the comments that just make you want to come to work every day.”

All of it is provided free of charge, and the Rx Partnership was made possible by donations and partnerships throughout the state. Yarcich said it has been extended through June of 2021 and she believes it will be continued because of the need.

The Community Health Center of the New River Valley provides services like behavioral health, dental and family medicine for insured and uninsured people in Christiansburg, Dublin and Pearisburg.

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