Harbor Style March 2010 : Page 93

Story by Deanie Gudac Photography by Mike Hirst “It's no secret that despite being a retiree destination, we are also home to a growing population of poor elderly, working poor and struggling small business owners,” said M. Suzanne Roberts, M. Ed., the clinic’s full-time executive director. “Many of our patients come from these ranks and do not have access to medical insurance. So they come to us for help.” This was certainly evident when this writer visited the clinic (located at 21450 Gibralter Drive in Port Charlotte) one Wednesday morning in January. It was pharmacy day, and the parking lot was full. Wednesdays are the one-day of the week when patients can pick up their free prescriptions dispensed by volunteer staffers, working under the supervision of a volunteer licensed pharmacist. Typically, the pharmacy dispenses 120 prescriptions a week to some 90 plus patients who qualify based on income and need (equal to or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level). There is no co-pay or fee applied. The clinic provides free drugs for a maximum of three months. If the patient is on maintenance medications (and many are), they are referred to the clinic’s volunteer patient advocates, who help them apply for free medications directly from the suppliers. (Note: The pharmacy does not dispense any narcotic drugs or controlled substances, and has none on the premises.)  HARBOR STYLE | 93

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