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Mobile Free Pharmacy: 300 benefit from free medicines

Elizabeth City MedAssist Mobile Pharmacy1
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Jennifer Simpson, right, gathers medications during the Mobile Free Pharmacy held in the Knobbs Creek Recreation Center in Elizabeth City on Thursday. Simpson, a nursing student at College of the Albemarle, was one of numerous volunteers helping to give away over-the-counter medicines to those in need.

Mobile Pharmacy2 Elizabeth City MedAssist
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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Friday, March 9, 2018

There are many people in Elizabeth City who go without basic medications — but not as many as yesterday, thanks to a Mobile Free Pharmacy that visited Knobbs Creek Recreation Center on Thursday.

“I would say this is a success,” said an event organizer, Janet Jarrett, after volunteers had distributed free medicines and supplies to more than 300 people.

Jarrett is the executive director of the Community Care Clinic of the Albemarle Hospital Foundation, which sponsored the event. The foundation sponsored NC MedAssist, a Charlotte-based nonprofit, to offer the free medications.

The Mobile Pharmacy also offered free health screenings, thanks in part to help from some College of The Albemarle nursing students, and free vision checkups and eyeglasses, courtesy of Complete Carolina Health. The Elizabeth City Police Department also offered to take back and properly dispose of old medications, a service law enforcement offers in part to prevent drug theft and abuse.

Jarrett explained in an interview last month that she invited NC MedAssist to Elizabeth City because she’s seen firsthand that many people cannot afford basic, over-the-counter medications, including for pain and allergies. For people of limited means, buying those medications could mean going without food or other needs, she said.

Thanks to NC MedAssist’s experience in running mobile pharmacies, and more than 100 volunteers, Jarrett said the event ran well. It works by having people fill out a “shopping list” of eight to 10 medicines they want. Volunteers then take those lists and bring their supplies to them, she said.

While waiting for her medications, Elizabeth City resident Clarine Daniels praised the event and its many “helpful” volunteers.

“It’s going to help many people,” she said.

Daniels also noted one of the items she requested was a bottle of eye drops. Glaucoma has left her with very dry eyes, and it’s costly to constantly buy drops, she said.

Married couple Barbara and Greg Buck said they came to the event partly out of curiosity. They didn’t know much about it, Barbara said. Ideally, she said, the pharmacy would help them with allergy medicines, antacids and vitamins.

The Bucks’ requests were far from unusual Thursday. Jarrett and volunteers said pain medications, allergy medicines and vitamins were in high demand.

Supervising the event for NC MedAssist was Operations Manager Diana Romero. Romero said she was pleased with the event’s turnout. To serve more than 400 people is a good number, especially since this was the group’s first free pharmacy in Elizabeth City.

She also said she felt the event had made a big impact, as many people said they couldn’t have afforded to buy the medicines themselves. She also said that, while it’s “sad sometimes that we live in a great country and people can’t get their basic medical needs met,” it also motivates her work with NC MedAssist.

Jarrett also said she hopes the Mobile Free Pharmacy will become an annual event. She’s also hoping to coordinate more visits from Complete Carolina Health this year, she said.

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