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Faith Community Pharmacy, only charitable pharmacy in NKY, fills a critical need for prescriptions

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

Faith Community Pharmacy is filling a great need for Northern Kentuckians, providing prescription medications at no cost. The only charitable pharmacy in Northern Kentucky, it is the largest charitable pharmacy in Kentucky, says Aaron Broomall, Executive Director.

“I think it’s pretty amazing what we’re able to do and the need is just growing since COVID started. We’re up about 30%,” says Broomall. “I came on in December [2019] and I think we were just barely scratching the surface of the need,” he says.

Delivery to car

“People don’t know that this service is there to help them and so when they can’t afford their prescriptions they’re not returning to their doctor,” Broomall says.

He says they think it is a dead end. The pharmacy wants providers and patients to understand that those conversations are necessary. By having them, you can find that there is a lot of help the pharmacy can provide, he says.

Faith Community Pharmacy was founded in 2002 by two pharmacists who saw a need. Broomall says that people would come to pick up a prescription, hear the cost, and then leave without their medication because they could not afford it. Operating out of the current location since 2010, they are now looking to relocate to provide better access to those who utilize their services.

During the past 18 years they have given away more than 550,000 prescriptions, he says. This year, Broomall says they expect to fill more than 25,000 scripts and give away more than $5,000,000 worth of medications. “The numbers truly are staggering of what we’re able to do,” he says.

Broomall says the easiest way to get assistance is to have a conversation with your provider, emphasizing that should be the starting point. He says they might not be the right answer, there could be better options.

If the provider refers a patient to them, they will send the needed information. The pharmacy can usually turn prescriptions around within 24 to 48 hours, providing a three-month supply, he says. “If somebody is at 200% of the federal poverty level or below, we will give them medication on an ongoing basis until they no longer need our service,” Broomall says.

A majority of the medication comes from Americares, a nonprofit medicine clearinghouse that works with drug manufacturers to acquire overstocked or short-dated medications. Americares then distributes the medication for free to clinics and pharmacies. Faith Community Pharmacy is in a special program to get insulin from Lilly Cares, Broomall says. Also, they receive some sample medications from doctors.

Medical supplies are purchased but sometimes medications are too. Because Americares relies on donations, there are times when specific medications are not available.

“We don’t want to short our clients, they’re counting on us, and so we will buy them under those circumstances,” Broomall says. There also could be a low-cost drug they can purchase.

Diabetic supplies, glucometer, testing strips, needles, and syringes, are expensive.

“Our average client is a household of two, making less than $24,000 a year. On average they have three chronic diseases,” says Broomall. If they are provided with the insulin and not the supplies, they would not be able to manage their diabetes, he says. Spending money on these supplies is part of whole health care.

Primarily, the pharmacy focuses on chronic illnesses, diabetes, COPD, asthma, cardiovascular illnesses, mental health, and rheumatology. “We specialize in those fields which is the primary bulk of chronic diseases in our area,” says Broomall. More importantly, Broomall points out that all of those are largely impacted by social determinants of health.

“They disproportionally impact lower-income individuals and yet their medications are often very high priced,” he says.

Some might be surprised that the pharmacy helps people who have insurance. Many of those served are on Medicare. Having a $500 deductible, they could end up spending up to $6,000 out of pocket and that is not feasible, Broomall says. “Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean you’re excluded from our program.”

Making transportation as small as an issue as possible is also important. Before COVID, some picked up at the pharmacy. There were outreach locations in Newport, Covington, Carroll, and Pendleton County. Volunteers would go to those locations once every three months for clients to pick up.

With COVID, things have changed. If you pick up, people stay in their car, call a number, and the medication is brought out to them. To reach those who picked up at the outreach locations, they have and are still assembling a team of drivers who volunteer to deliver medications.

Monetary donations are always needed and a way to help support the pharmacy. Volunteers of pharmacists and pharmacy techs are always welcomed. To donate or volunteer go to their website, call 859-426-7837, or email aaron@faithcommunitypharmacy.org

Faith Community Pharmacy is continually looking at how to be proactive in identifying people in need and how to cover gaps. “I think the biggest thing for us, our dream, is that no one in Northern Kentucky goes without medication due to affordability, that that is simply unacceptable to us and it should be unacceptable to our whole community,” Broomall says.

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