ETSU opening charitable pharmacy in August

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JOHNSON CITY (July 29, 2014) – Next month, East Tennessee State University will begin its management of the newly relocated and renamed ETSU Charitable Pharmacy, formerly known as the Northeast Tennessee Dispensary of Hope. It will be operated by ETSU through a partnership between the College of Nursing’s Johnson City Community Health Center (JCCHC) and the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy.

ETSU has been involved with the Northeast Tennessee Dispensary of Hope since it was founded by Mountain States Health Alliance in 2009 as the local affiliate of the national Dispensary of Hope, which is based in Nashville. Mountain States will hand over management of the charitable pharmacy for underserved residents to ETSU effective Aug. 4.

On that date, the pharmacy will move from its current Elm Street location to the JCCHC at 2151 Century Lane. The facility operation will be managed by faculty from the College of Pharmacy. Mountain States will continue to offer financial support for the needs-based pharmacy for the next two years.

The ETSU Charitable Pharmacy will continue to partner with the Dispensary of Hope in Nashville, a national non-profit organization, to distribute medications at no cost to qualifying patients. The national organization receives the medications through donations from pharmaceutical companies and doctors’ offices then sends them out to their affiliate pharmacies and clinic sites to be dispensed.

“This service is a natural fit with the Johnson City Community Health Center and with ETSU’s Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy,” said Silas Tolan, executive director of ETSU’s community health centers. “We’re happy that we can provide these services in a location that’s very convenient for our patients.”

Current patients of the Northeast Tennessee Dispensary of Hope will be able access their prescriptions from the ETSU Charitable Pharmacy without any interruption in service. Of those, approximately 60 percent are also patients of the JCCHC or another ETSU-affiliated community health center, according to Tolan.

All JCCHC patients will be able to fill their prescriptions at the location if they meet the designated qualifications.

“That’s a huge thing. It goes back to the whole continuum of care,” Tolan said. “Rather than sending them out the door with a prescription and just hoping they’ll get it filled, now we’ll be able to fill most of those medications right here in the community health center.”

Others who are not patients of the JCCHC will also be able to fill their prescriptions there if they meet the qualifications.

“We are excited to work with the Johnson City Community Health Center and ETSU to continue to provide the services previously offered by the Northeast Tennessee Dispensary of Hope," said Tony Benton, interim CEO of Mountain States' Washington County, Tenn., operations. "When we can provide these underserved patients with the medicine they need, they are better able to manage diseases like congestive heart failure, diabetes and hypertension, and they are less likely to wind up needing an ER visit or hospitalization. This service is important to the health of our community, and we are eager to see it thrive under ETSU's direction. ”

The pharmacy will not carry any controlled substances, which includes narcotic pain medications, Tolan noted.

The JCCHC, which opened its doors in 2012, was built with space allotted for a pharmacy.

“The clinic already has the space,” Tolan said. “We just haven’t been using it up until this point.”

The ETSU Charitable Pharmacy is expected to open Aug. 4. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

For more information, call the JCCHC at 423-929-6916.

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