A unique pharmacy for patients in need
Madeline Kravitz is a first-year PharmD candidate at the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy & Physician Assistant Studies.
Another month, another IPPE. Ready to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom, I recently parked my car, grabbed my bag, and headed into the Hope Dispensary of Greater Bridgeport. Amid the isolation due to COVID-19, entering the pharmacy was like a breath of fresh air. Little did I know that it would be more than just an academic reprieve from the pandemic.
Waiting for Angela Faulhaber, PharmD, to show me around and help me get acclimated, I couldn’t help but notice the never-ending wall of thank-you cards, long morning line of eager patients, and staff ready to share their services with contagious smiles on their faces. This was Hope Dispensary. And, in witnessing just one single patient interaction, I knew immediately that this place was different. This place was something special.
Not only is this pharmacy’s mission to provide sustainable access to medicine for underinsured communities, but to do so in Bridgeport—the largest city in Connecticut, where 21.4% of the population lives below the poverty line. With the goal to treat major chronic diseases that fall under the categories of cardiac, pulmonary, diabetes, and mental health, Hope Dispensary dispenses medications at no charge to patients who qualify.
By offering short-term assistance to people who are uninsured or have limited income, the pharmacy functions as a true force for change in U.S. health care. Together, the mission and location of this site exemplify just one of the many goals of the pharmacy profession: helping populations most in need.
No one could better explain the impact of this pharmacy than the patients they serve. In population health surveys assessing prescription access without Hope Dispensary, patients reported they “would not take [their] medications,” “would not have the resources to buy,” or simply “could not get them.” In reviewing these survey responses, it was quite clear that without this pharmacy, these patients would not be receiving the medication they need, and their health and quality of life would suffer.
The experience offered to me by Hope Dispensary will stay with me forever. It might have only been a month-long rotation, but it taught me lifelong lessons. It’s one thing to have the knowledge; it’s another to have compassion. I believe the pharmacy profession must look beyond the medical side of our patients and not just acknowledge the bigger problems, such as medication accessibility and affordability, but address them. This is exactly what Hope Dispensary does.
In short, I aspire to embody the ideals of Hope Dispensary by ultimately becoming a knowledgeable, compassionate, patient-centered pharmacist.