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Free pharmacy event aims to help EC residents

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, February 5, 2018

A free pharmacy event scheduled for Elizabeth City next month aims to help residents who can't afford basic medications for themselves or their children.

A “Mobile Free Pharmacy” is planned to be held at the Knobbs Creek Recreation Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 8. 

Hosted by the Albemarle Hospital Foundation and NC MedAssist, the event will offer free over-the-counter medications and other services to the public, said Janet Jarrett and Kristin Young on Thursday. 

Young, who is the communications director for NC MedAssist Foundation, said there's still a need for volunteers to help set up the event and distribute medications to people. To sign up, visit medassist.org/volunteer and click on “Pasquotank County,” she added.

Jarrett is the executive director of the Community Care Clinic, a service of the hospital foundation. 

Young explained that NC MedAssist is a nonprofit based in Charlotte whose mission is to provide access to medications and patient support for poor and uninsured state residents. Similar to its other mobile pharmacy events, Young said NC MedAssist is planning to bring a 24-foot-long truck full of medications, such as Children's Tylenol, cold medicines and more to give away. People will be asked to fill out a sheet of eight to 10 items they want, and volunteers will collect them for them. Each person should get about $100 worth of medications, she said.

Young explained that many households go without basic medications and supplies that others take for granted. Insurance also doesn't cover over-the-counter medicines and supplies, despite their ability to ease everyday common illnesses and injuries.

“You wouldn't believe how many people go without Band-aids,” she said.

Young explained that the event will offer other services, thanks to other participants. Supporting the event are the Albemarle Hospital Foundation and its Community Care Clinic, Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, Albemarle Regional Health Services, Catholic Charities and the Elizabeth City Police Department. The ECPD will also offer to take and properly dispose of old medications, she said. Medication take-backs ensure medications aren't misused and/or stolen.

Young also explained that people must be over 18 years old to receive medications, but they don't have to show identification or proof of income to receive over-the-counter medications. However, she explained NC MedAssist will also try to help uninsured individuals who can't afford prescription medications. NC MedAssist will need to take their information, including proof of income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, so that they can be mailed those medications, she said.

Young also noted that a Spanish interpreter will be available.

Young also encourages people to volunteer for the event. It will take 100 to 130 people to run the event, she reported, and only about 25 are signed up so far. The organizers are flexible, she said, but she asked people volunteer for shifts of at least three hours. Volunteers are needed from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. to set up and take down the event, she said.

Young also credited Jarrett with recruiting NC MedAssist to Elizabeth City. In a separate interview, Jarrett explained that her role at the Community Care Clinic showed her the need for the event.

“People have to choose between medicines and gas to get to work,” she said. Families commonly need bandages, antibiotic ointments, such as Neosporin, lice treatments and more, she's found.

In addition to the services Young mentioned, Jarrett also said a pharmacist would be on hand to help people figure out if their prescriptions conflict with any over-the-counter drugs; hopefully a physician will be available as well, she said.

Young also said the Albemarle Hospital Foundation is paying the entire cost of hosting the event, $7,500. If it goes well, she hopes to ask other organizations to support future events, she added.

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