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Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio



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Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio

Every day, we watch relief flood our patients' eyes. "You mean you'll help me get my medicine?", a patient recently asked, beginning to cry. "This month, it's been so hard. I had to choose between buying food and getting my medicine. I'm just so grateful!"

Comprehensive and effective health care has long been an obstacle for many Franklin County residents. According to the 2015 Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey:

  • 24% of adults ages 19 and older with income at 200% or below the poverty level had unmet prescription needs.
  • For adults ages 45 - 55, the number jumps to 30%.

For primarily financial reasons, these individuals avoid preventative and necessary health services until an emergency event forces them to use costly hospital or urgent care. They often leave the hospital with prescriptions for medications they cannot afford to buy. As a result, when they are unable to obtain their medicine, they are highly likely to suffer a repeated event and return to the hospital or urgent care for services in a perpetual cycle.

To break the cycle, the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio (CPCO) opened in 2010. Staff includes pharmacists and pharmacist residents complemented by a corps of student interns in their last year of pharmacy school from The Ohio State University and other nearby colleges of pharmacy. During their one-month internships, they meet with patients to practice what they've learned in class and further develop their communication skills and knowledge base. Since opening, we have hosted more than 260 students. We think of it as our "pay it forward" program.

We also have a "recycling program" as the vast majority of our medicine is donated from sources such as longterm care facility pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and physicians' office. In 2018, we received more than $2.1 worth of contributed medicine.

When John came back to the consultation room, his blood pressure was 185/113. He could have gone into cardiac arrest at any time. After asking some questions, we learned that he hadn't been taking his heart medication. We gave him his medication at no cost to him, and he took it immediately. Unfortunately, we see men like John every day.

The Charitable Pharmacy's primary mission is to provide affordable and appropriate pharmacy services and coordinate access to health care for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals in Franklin County. Services include:

  • Pharmacy services and medicines for those who cannot afford them
  • Counseling on proper medication usage
  • Medication therapy management
  • Social service program referrals
  • Health screenings
  • Health and wellness education
  • Vaccination and smoking cessation counseling
  • Nutrition counseling and education
  • Patients include individuals living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a single individual, this represents an annual income of a little over $24,000; for a family of four, the top income level is $52,000, slightly more than $13,000 per person.

More than just a dispensary, patients meet one-on-one with a pharmacist, pharmacy resident or senior pharmacy intern during regular monthly visits to receive extensive medication counseling and health assessments. The provider asks what concerns they have, discusses their medications, and considers medication efficacy and adherence. We also take blood pressure and monitor blood glucose. If there is an opportunity to optimize the medication regimen, we reach out to the patient's primary care provider.

We know our unique model works. A study conducted at the pharmacy and published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association showed that after receiving services, patients reduced their hospital visits by one per person per year and 90% reported that they had a better understanding of how their medicines help control their chronic conditions.

In 2007, it became clear that an alarming number of Columbus residents were going without medicine due to financial hardship. At that time, the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy in Cincinnati was the only charitable pharmacy in the state. After visiting it, a grassroots effort in Columbus brought together a group of concerned community leaders who began discussions to open a similar facility in Franklin County. Following years of preparation, the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio was founded in 2009 under the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. The following year, CPCOopened its doors to the community at the Livingston United Methodist Church near downtown. We join only two other charitable pharmacies in Ohio.

Since then, 6,300 patients have received 330,000 prescriptions-most at no cost to them-for a market value of more than $30 million.

Over the years, two pharmacy residents have conducted research at the pharmacy and published peer-reviewed primary research papers in national journals.

In 2015, CPCO was named one of the Five Nonprofits to Watchby The Columbus Foundation. In 2018, the national Pharmacy Quality Alliance and the Community Pharmacy Foundation recognized the pharmacy with its inaugural award for Community Pharmacy Innovations. This recognition celebrates a community pharmacy that, in collaboration with external partners, has developed innovative programs resulting in improved quality of care, medication optimization, and patient outcomes.

It's easy to talk about the pharmacy services we provide for the vulnerable people we meet every day. But it's more than that. For the patients we serve, we provide hope. A lifeline. A sympathetic ear. A much needed boost. For some, we are there just when they need someone there the most. The Charitable Pharmacy works, and we invite you to join us in caring for the whole of our community.

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Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio

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