Free Pharmacy Serves Uninsured

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An Ohio community has seen the number of residents unable to afford prescription medications almost double. As Lilla Marigza reports, people of faith have a plan to bridge the gap.

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(Locator: Columbus, Ohio)

Clinic staffer to client: “You need 3 medications, correct?”

Charlena Roberts gets her prescriptions filled for free at the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio, a United Methodist ministry serving the uninsured.

Charlena Roberts, Pharmacy Client: “The people are friendly. It’s a one on one. They will explain to you about your medicine, how to take it.”

Allan Zaenger: “If you take it earlier in the day, that will be better than taking it at night.”
Charlena Roberts: “I’ll do it.”

Roberts is unemployed and says without the help she would face tough choices.

Charlena Roberts: “That would be very difficult because it would be like, ‘go without’ and that’s not good. Most medicines that I have to take, I have to take daily.”

Statistics show that within five years, 40 percent more Columbus residents lacked access to needed drugs. Pharmacist Allan Zaenger predicts the pharmacy will fill more than 10 thousand prescriptions a year.

Allan Zaenger, Executive Director & Pharmacist: “We provide prescriptions and selected over the counter medicines to patients who really don’t have the ability to pay for the $4 generic drugs at the retail pharmacies.”

Christopher Curtis severely injured his back and was referred to the pharmacy by a social service agency. This is his first visit.

Christopher Curtis, Pharmacy Client: “I’m on 4 different medicines: nerve medicine, high blood pressure medicine, medicine for my inflammation. And I ain’t really got the money to pay for it, so I came to the church to ask the church to help me out.”

Allan Zaenger: “It’s important for people, particularly our patients who have chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma, and high blood pressure, cholesterol problems … that they get on medicines and stay on those medicines so that they don’t have some of the debilitating complications of that.”

The outreach runs on donations. It’s been called “the pharmacy of last resort” but others prefer to call it “good medicine.”

Charlena Roberts: “It’s been great. I’m grateful.”

Christopher Curtis: “Oh man, yes, it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing for real.”


The program runs on donations from pharmaceutical companies and cash gifts from individuals, which are used to purchase medicines and keep the pharmacy open.

For more information on the charitable clinic, contact the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church at 800-437-0028.

Posted: June 3, 2010