Volunteers distribute free medication

Published 11:04 am Saturday, June 26, 2021

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Almost 800 area residents kept a small group of local volunteers busy handing out free over-the-counter medications and health information on June 25. The event was part of a joint outreach between NC MedAssist and community hospitals statewide.

Through a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, the 25-year-old agency receives shipments of over-the-counter medicine that is sorted by volunteers and disbursed to adults and families. According to the NC MedAssist vision statement, the group “attempts to ensure that no eligible person in North Carolina has to choose between purchasing food or their needed medication.” Beaufort County Community College hosted the event. The school’s parking lot was transformed into a mini-health fair, where drivers could receive information from Beaufort County Health Department, Vidant Beaufort Stroke Awareness, Vidant Health Cancer Care, and Humana Insurance, before picking up bags of medication that were delivered to drivers by volunteers.

“This year’s event was extra special because it was the first drive-through event in a year that didn’t involve swabs or syringes for COVID,” said Jennifer Lewis, community health improvement coordinator for Vidant Beaufort Hospital. “It was a pleasure to reconnect with our community members and community partners while providing much needed over-the-counter medication … and to help restock their medicine cabinets (because) many folks endured COVID at home and treated their symptoms with cold and flu medications.”

Medications were bagged and distributed based on whether they were for an adult, a child, or a family group. Those who preregistered received custom-selected meds based on their personal needs, while folks who didn’t do so were given generic – but still amply-filled – bags of medication.

Lewis said that 293 of the 738 participants in the Beaufort County outreach event received the personalized bags, while “generic” bags based on their group characteristics were given to the 442 drivers who registered at the drive-up event.

Personally targeted services were also offered to those who let NC MedAssist representatives know that they were uninsured and needed help managing the their food and medicine needs, through a separate branch of the group’s outreach efforts run from its headquarters in Charlotte. Lewis said anyone interested in building that kind of relationship, attending other outreaches statewide, or donating to the group’s efforts may contact NC MedAssist on line at info@medassist.org or by phone at 866-331-1348.

Lewis also expressed her gratitude to BCCC “for allowing us to use their campus to hold the event, as well as for the excellent partnerships represented,” which included volunteers from Agape Clinic, Beaufort County Schools, Beaufort County Health Department, Cornerstone Family Medicine, Eagle’s Wings Food Bank, Mideast Commission Area Agency on Aging, and Vidant Beaufort Hospital and Physician Practices.