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Nonprofit pharmacy, Vidant Beaufort team up for medicine give-away

Vidant Beaufort Hospital is teaming up with NC MedAssist this week to bring a Mobile Free Pharmacy to Washington.

Friday, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., any individual or family in need of over-the-counter medications such as cold medicine, allergy medicine, pain relievers and first-aid items can go to First United Methodist Church to stock up on what they need.

“We are looking forward to bringing the NC MedAssist Mobile Free Pharmacy to Beaufort County,” said Jennifer Lewis, community health improvement coordinator for Vidant Beaufort Hospital. “The Mobile Free Pharmacy event is an opportunity for us to make an impact on the health and wellness of the community. We look forward to helping provide health resources and education to individuals and families in this community.”

Lewis said the partnership was brought about by Vidant Health’s Community Benefits Grant Program, in which each of Vidant’s affiliated hospitals are given $100,000 to use in their communities. One of Vidant Beaufort’s chosen recipients was the nonprofit NC MedAssist, an organization whose work they felt aligned with Vidant Beaufort’s community outreach efforts, Lewis said.

“They do not want any eligible person to have to choose between food and medicine,” Lewis said.

Eligibility for the Mobile Free Pharmacy only means a participant must be over the age of 18. No ID or financial disclosure is required, though Lewis said she hopes those truly in need will take advantage of the event.

In addition to stocking a medicine chest, participants will have access to health screenings offered by Vidant Beaufort and the Beaufort County Health Department and will be able to speak to Vidant Beaufort pharmaceutical team members about what over-the-counter medications may interact with prescription medications they’re already taking.

“They’ll also be interviewing for issues with any problems getting prescription medications and setting them up with resources,” Lewis said.

Information about enrolling in the NC MedAssist Free Pharmacy Program, which mails free prescription medications directly to a patient’s home, will also be available. NC MedAssist’s overall goal is to help ease the burden for those in need — over the last fiscal year, the nonprofit distributed more than $63 million in free prescription and over-the-counter medication statewide, according to a press release from NC MedAssist.

Though NC MedAssist hosts more than 40 Mobile Free Pharmacies a year, the event is volunteer-driven by members of a community. Lewis said those volunteering for set-up Thursday and the “shopping” on Friday are local hospital, health department and school employees, as well as volunteers from churches and businesses.

“They tell me that it’s one of the best sign-ups they’ve seen. … It seems it to be very well received,” Lewis said. “It’s just a great partnership. I’m excited to see it all come to fruition.”

First United Methodist Church is located at 304 W. Second St., Washington.