Approaching capacity at its current location, the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio will expand to nearby Franklinton.
The pharmacy, which celebrated its third anniversary in late February, soon will open a satellite office at the new Lower Lights Christian Health Center, which is in the process of moving to a new facility at 1160 W. Broad St.
"We'd like to be open more days," said Allan Zaenger, executive director of the Charitable Pharmacy. "We'd like to be open more hours, and this expansion allows us to do that."
Dr. Dana Vallangeon, chief executive officer of Lower Lights, said the relationship comes at a critical time as the health center prepares to move into the larger facility, which should open at the end of the month.
The center, which recently celebrated its 11th anniversary, provides medical, behavioral, mental, vision, dental and spiritual services, as well as nutrition counseling, to 7,000 patients.
Lower Lights works directly with pharmaceutical companies and other venues to seek discounted medications.
Vallangeon said the Charitable Pharmacy will help streamline the process for patients, who can have several prescriptions and must visit many sites to get their medication and counseling services.
"Adding pharmacy services is the next step for us to provide better medication access for our uninsured and our underinsured patients," Vallangeon said.
"Our patients will not have to get medications through multiple avenues, but instead through one source."
The Charitable Pharmacy, located inside Livingston United Methodist Church in German Village, is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday every week.
Averaging 625 patients per month -- each taking an average of seven prescriptions -- the nonprofit organization simply needs more room to operate, Zaenger said.
The new office would serve mostly Lower Lights patients, but also allow Charitable Pharmacy patients to receive primary-care services at the Franklinton facility, which is a federally qualified health center, meaning it has access to some of the least-expensive prescription medication in the United States, Zaenger said. It also brings pharmacy assistance closer to a population that needs it, he said.
Zaenger said 2012 was a record year for the Charitable Pharmacy, which saw an average of 35 more patients a month compared to the previous year.
"The experiences have been incredible," he said. "It's like miracles happen every day."
The pharmacy, which has an annual budget just shy of $350,000, is funded by a variety of sources, including all local major hospitals, grants, Franklin County, American Electric Power and several foundations.
"Our donors have been generous," Zaenger said, "and we have been able to use that generosity to leverage the buying of high-quality medicines that help reduce more costly hospital services."
The new arrangement also will open up another revenue stream for the pharmacy: Lower Lights will pay the Charitable Pharmacy for filling prescriptions for lower-income, uninsured patients.
Preliminary data suggests Charitable Pharmacy patients are using hospital services, whether visiting the emergency room or being admitted, less often, Zaenger said.
So far, the pharmacy has dispensed drugs with an estimated retail value of nearly $4 million.
Patients must meet eligibility requirements. Those who can afford to pay do so on a sliding scale.