Mary Worthen, who works for the Medication Assistance Program, has opened an office at the Fulton County Hospital and at Ozarka College in Ash Flat, to help low income residents obtain medications for free or at a greatly reduced cost.
"Our aim is to help people that don't have insurance, or live on a low income, be able to receive the medications they need to stay healthy," said Worthen.
Most pharmaceutical companies have created programs to provide medications they manufacture to those who live at the poverty level or below.
Worthen assists patients by evaluating the drugs they have been prescribed and contacting drug companies to obtain up to a year's supply through the companies' assistance programs. The medications are usually shipped directly to a client's home.
"It typically takes four to six weeks to get the medications in," said Worthen. "I recommend that people either stop by my office, or call me to have an application packet mailed to them. They can then make an appointment to bring their completed packet in and we can work together to get the ball rolling for them."
The application process includes providing information on the drugs that applicants have been prescribed, any insurance they have and proof of income.
Once a person's eligibility has been established, Worthen says the patient's doctor will need to fill out a three month prescription and the medications will be supplied every three months for a year. At the end of the year, each person has to be recertified, as still being eligible for the program.
"I'm so excited that this program is available, to help patients receive the medications they need. Many times, when someone comes in for their first consultation, you can tell they have been trying to stretch out their medications, due to not being able to refill them in a timely matter, with money being tight like it is right now. After the first three months of being on the program, you see such an improvement in their overall health, all because they are taking their medications as prescribed," said Worthen.
Worthen operated a similar prescription assistance program in Fulton County three years ago, through a federal grant. While more than 400 clients obtained help, the local office closed when the grant to operate it ran out.
The Medication Assistance Program was started in January of 2009, through the Area Health Education Centers operated around the state by UAMS (University of Arkansas for Medical Services).
The North Central Area Health Education Center in Mountain Home coordinates the Medication Assistance Program in ten area counties, including Sharp and Izard. Last year, the program helped more than 300 clients in our region obtain nearly $500,000 worth of free or reduced cost medication
Under a realignment, the Sharp County office at Ozarka College, in Ash Flat, remains open but, with the opening of the Salem office, a Horseshoe Bend office has closed.
"We have been trying to get back to Fulton County, because we know there is a real need there," said Diane Plemmons of the North Central Area Health Education Center. "The Fulton County Hospital made it possible by offering us free office space."
"I knew Mary Worthen when she operated the first medication assistance program and she did an excellent job," said Al Roork, Chairman of the Fulton County Hospital Board of Governors. "We, at the hospital, believe we are here to help those in need and, by providing office space, the Medical Assistance Program will, hopefully, be around for a long time, because we know a lot of people can't afford the medications they need."
Worthen believes offices at the Fulton County Hospital and Ozarka College will be convenient for area residents, including citizens of Horseshoe Bend, where the office was closed.
Worthen will be in her office at Fulton County Hospital, in Salem, Monday through Thursday and at the Ozarka College office, in Ash Flat, on Fridays. Office hours at both offices will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To contact Worthen about obtaining an application packet, call her office number at 870-895-6086 or her cell phone number, at 870-251-6478.