CARES Act funding helps Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio provide medications

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group

The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio received a gift of $250,000 in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money, and officials say it could not have come at a better time.  

The nonprofit pharmacy is celebrating its 10-year anniversary and officials said it has seen the need grow, particularly during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.  

Charitable Pharmacy logo

“Our patients are very vulnerable,” said Melanie Boyd, development director for the pharmacy.   

“Half of them are 60 (years old) and older, and all have at least one chronic health condition. So when COVID hit, if anyone needed to be kept safe, it’s our patient population.”  

The Charitable Pharmacy, which provides free medications for its patients, is located inside – but is independent of – the Livingston United Methodist Church, 200 E. Livingston Ave, in Columbu’s German Village neighborhood.  

“When COVID-19 hit in March, our team sprang into action to completely overhaul our operational model,” said Jenni Seifert, executive director of the pharmacy.  

Because of statewide pandemic restrictions, the building has been closed to large groups of people.   

Boyd said the pharmacy responded in three ways:   

• Curbside service for those without vehicles  

• Mailing prescriptions   

• Filling prescriptions for 60 days instead of 30.  

Those all occurred from March 12 to April 12, and the cost of prescriptions that were distributed went up 332%, she said.  

The city of Columbus helped make up for lost revenue, and many of the pharmacy’s founding donors stayed with the organization, she said.   

Because there were so many prescriptions that needed to be filled, the pharmacy had to hire five staff members, she said. 

The pharmacy also turned to telehealth, where pharmacists consult electronically or by telephone with patients about the medication.  

Pharmacists spend an average of 22 minutes talking with patients about taking the drugs regularly, their side effects and whether patients are taking them as advised, Boyd said.  

“Obviously, we have been able to do that face-to-face like we used to,” she said. “So phones have become part of critical care.”  

The pharmacy still sees approximately 50 patients per day, 200 a week, during its four-day distribution, Boyd said.   

“Essentially, we saw a 120% increase in the value of medicine we put in patients’ hands from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 this year as opposed to the same time period last year.” she said.  

The CARES Act was passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27.   

The more than $2 trillion in economic relief is designed to protect Americans from the public health and economic impacts of the coronavirus, according to the U.S Department of the Treasury website.  

The money provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers and families and small businesses and preserves jobs for American industries, according to the website.  

The funding was distributed through the city of Columbus and Franklin County Resilience Initiative. Distributions for area nonprofit organizations were approved by Columbus City Council on Sept. 22.  

gseman@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekGary