Date Posted: Jul 14, 2010
Agency Helps People Get Medicines They Need
Where would Gloria Deeser be without the Prescription Assistance Network of Stark County? (Information has been changed to correct an error at 3:25 p.m. 7/15. See correction at end of story.) “Dead,” she says. Insulin and the 11 medications she takes daily keep Deeser going. The Prescription Assistance Network helps her get what she needs. Social agencies around the county had been trying to help people get their medicine. Many were asking local foundations for grants. As requests multiplied, foundation officers began wondering if forming a central agency might be a better way to attack the problem, said Don Sultzbach, Austin-Bailey Health and Wellness Foundation executive director. Austin-Bailey board members began discussing the idea with counterparts at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton. Other organizations joined the talks. The foundations researched and determined a network would help residents who couldn’t always afford their medications. The Prescription Assistance Network formed in November 2002, with foundations pooling $170,000 to help the program get started. GRATEFUL FOR HELP Deeser is grateful for the foresight of foundation leaders. Diabetes and heart problems forced her to seek disability. But her check doesn’t provide enough to pay for health insurance, and she is too young to qualify for Medicare. Without insurance, Deeser can’t afford her medications, some of which she takes five times each day. One of her doctors directed Deeser to the Prescription Assistance Network. The agency has been wonderful, Deeser said. “They are so pleasant, are so kind to you,” she said. “There’s no excuse now-a-days not to have medications when they have programs like this one.” Carol Risaliti, the network’s executive director, said the agency is helping many people like Deeser. The goal is to aid those without resources to get their medications. “We don’t serve the people who can buy their drugs,” she said. Deeser enrolled in the program earlier this year. Risaliti said Deeser is among many new faces the agency is seeing. The number of clients has increased over the past two years as companies have closed or cut jobs, leaving people without health insurance. People who rely on medications can run into financial problems quickly. “You can drain your savings fast,” Risaliti said. GROWING PROGRAM The agency started on the Mercy Medical Center campus, but late in 2009 moved to the Community Campus at Goodwill, 408 Ninth St. SW. The move allowed the Prescription Assistance Network to open a pharmacy.