The Meaning of Care Magazine

Methodist Fremont Health's Medication Assistance Program Takes Worry Out of Health Care

Published: April 21, 2021

We’ve all heard stories of people opting not to fill much-needed prescriptions because they need groceries or have other bills to pay.

Since 2014, Methodist Fremont Health has stepped in to eliminate that worry through its Medication Assistance Program.

The program initially was designed to enroll patients in manufacturer-provided programs and supply a limited amount of medications until patients could receive a medication supply from the manufacturer. It quickly became apparent that a need existed for patients on medications not covered by manufacturer programs.  

Based on the Medication Assistance Program’s success through the years, the Methodist Fremont Health pharmacy team turned to a trial program in 2019 to support patients unable to afford medications not covered by existing programs.

“The trial was very successful, but a more sustainable solution was needed,” pharmacy director Nick Hummel said. “When we did some checking, we discovered the Dispensary of Hope, a nationwide program that pairs charitable pharmacy programs with manufacturers willing to donate their generic medications on an ongoing basis.”

For an annual fee, which is paid by Fremont Health Foundation, the pharmacy is able to maintain a robust supply of the most common generic medications and dispense them at no cost to qualifying patients.  

“Patients are able to fill and refill their medications free of charge as a result of the program,” Hummel said. “This allows conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, depression and infections to be treated and not lead to complications or hospitalizations. Hospitalized patients can be screened and enrolled during their stay and leave with their free medications, which decreases their likelihood for readmission and improves their overall health.” 

In 2020, the total amount paid out to the Medication Assistance Program was over $28,000. An additional grant of $12,500 was awarded in September to further support the program.

“When I began my career in late 2019 with the Fremont Health Foundation, I was eager to learn more about the pharmaceutical support and funding the Foundation provides to the Methodist Fremont Health pharmacy,” said Shawn Shanahan, executive director for development and community health. “It was amazing to learn what the pharmacy team was doing to support patients at the time of discharge, and the desire to help beyond discharge was quickly noted as something we needed to partner on. The Dispensary of Hope, our pharmacy team and the Foundation make for a great partnership for our community.”

With the program firmly in place, Methodist Fremont Health aims to continue building relationships with local physicians to identify patients who can benefit. Together, Methodist Fremont Health and Fremont Health Foundation are committed to ensuring that the cost of medication isn’t a barrier to good health.  

“The Medication Assistance Program wouldn’t be possible without the funding of the Fremont Health Foundation and the support of its generous donors,” Hummel said. “The medications dispensed directly improve the health of the community, and seeing that impact is incredibly rewarding for pharmacy staff.”

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