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New pharmacy has prescriptions for uninsured, those with low-income
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Jeremy Sanders is a pharmacist at Dispensary of Hope, which has opened next to Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital at 140 Vo Tech Drive, Suite 2.

For local residents gripped with poverty, the cost of potentially life-saving medicine can be a cost they cannot afford.

Dispensary of Hope is here to help.

A grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday for a community pharmacy that’s operating in partnership with Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital.

The goal is to make vital medications more affordable and accessible to those in need. The Dispensary of Hope pharmacy will be for low-income and uninsured residents to provide no-cost, or low-cost, prescription drugs.

“We hope this pharmacy changes the whole landscape of our community’s healthcare,” said River Park CEO Dale Humphrey. “We never want people to make the decision of whether to pay their rent, their light bill, or pay for their prescription medicine.”

Dispensary of Hope is a charitable medication distributor which got its start in Murfreesboro around 15 years ago. It has grown to more than 300 pharmacies in 40 states. This is the fifth location where Ascension Saint Thomas has partnered with Dispensary of Hope.

“This is a community pharmacy which has distributed tens of millions of doses in medicine,” said Greg Pope, Ascension Saint Thomas chief mission integration officer. “There is no reason for anyone in the U.S. to die due to lack of insulin. The Dispensary of Hope has it right here for free.”

Humphrey said the pharmacy project is one that’s been in the works for years. Pharmacy employees are currently working to get the facility set up so it can accept insurance. When that happens, likely in the fall, anyone will be welcome to walk in and use Dispensary of Hope.

“We’ll be the same as Walgreens,” said David Neu, Ascension Saint Thomas vice president of pharmacy.

Until that time, Dispensary of Hope will be limited to low-income and the uninsured. An application form must be filled out and income requirements are in place.

“Not every drug we have is free,” said Neu. “We subsidize the cost on a lot of things so your charge may be $1 or $5 or $10.”

The pharmacy will give hospital patients easy access to the medication they need before they are discharged.

“If we fill the medication for patients before they leave the hospital, hopefully it will cut down on hospital readmissions,” said Jeremy Sanders, a pharmacist who works at the McMinnville location.

The pharmacy will work in conjunction with the Good Samaritan Clinic operated by Ascension Saint Thomas next door. 

It was pointed out that many local residents have taken advantage of the free, primary medical care only to be handed a prescription they can’t afford to fill.

The Chamber was on hand to conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony and many Chamber members took the opportunity to formally welcome the Dispensary of Hope to McMinnville. It was noted by several speakers that the pharmacy is a great reinvestment into the community by Ascension Saint Thomas.