October is American Pharmacists Month – a time to spotlight pharmacists’ contributions toward improving medication use and advancing patient care. We asked Lupe Hollingsworth, director of pharmacy at Direct Relief’s partner health center, Access Health in Ft. Bend, Texas, to shed light on how her work – and that of pharmacists everywhere – helps people in need access care.
Direct Relief: How does Direct Relief’s support impact your job?
Lupe Hollingsworth: Thanks to Direct Relief’s support, we are able to offer our patients more medications at reduced pricing. Both the Replenishment Program and Safety Net Support offers enable us to carry medications we might not otherwise have access to due to drug costs and formulary limitations (or pharmaceutical products the health center is allowed to dispense). The Hurricane Preparedness Packs allow us to prepare and respond to emergencies when needed.
DR: What’s the most rewarding part of being a pharmacist?
LH: Being able to make a difference and improve patient’s health. Whether it be counseling patients on their medications or by catching drug interactions or allergies, pharmacists are in a position to prevent many adverse patient outcomes.
DR: Can you describe a story that stands out to you of a patient who has benefited from the pharmacy’s care?
LH: We were able to provide a patient with much-needed medication from a patient assistance program. The out of pocket costs for three months would have totaled over $7,000 and through the patient assistance program only cost the patient a nominal processing fee. It is so gratifying to help patients when they are in such need and would not be able to afford their treatment otherwise. Most patients are aware of what their medications would cost at an average pharmacy and are so very grateful for the assistance we provide in making sure they improve their health.
DR: What is something many people may be surprised to find out about working in pharmacy for a safety net clinic?
LH: Thanks to many organizations like Direct Relief, nonprofit clinic pharmacies are able to provide low-cost medications to patients, which helps them adhere to their drug regimens and improve their medical conditions. Being an in-house pharmacy allows us to get answers to any prescription discrepancies in a timely manner, which increases customer satisfaction.
DR: What are the most commonly disbursed pharmaceuticals at Access Health?
LH: The most commonly disbursed pharmaceuticals at our clinic mirrors that of most pharmacies – medications for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia.