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Paying for prescriptions: Baton Rouge alternative for those in need

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 1:00pm

Every month, nearly half of all Americans take some kind of prescription medication. About twenty percent of Americans need three different prescriptions each month. It adds up. Anyone who's filled a prescription knows how expensive medication can be but sometimes, figuring out how to pay for it isn't even an option. In certain circumstances, churches and community organizations can help out but they often lack the funds to continue that kinds of assistance. People in Baton Rouge have another option: The St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy.

"We're a pharmacy of last resort," says St. Vincent de Paul of Baton Rouge Executive Director. "The pharmacy's a great, great community program that fills prescriptions for people who would otherwise go without."

People like Floyd Moon. Floyd has been a pharmacy customer for about six years.

"I'm a Katrina victim--lost everything. I reached out to the community and they reached out to me. I was blessed to come with this situation because I didn't have the money--I had a job--but the job I had was my budget-wise I wasn't able to fit it in because I had so many prescriptions."

So it was Floyd's health that took the hit.

"I can't handle that--I got rent, light, gas, insurance, food," he says.

Acaldo says Floyd's story is one he's heard many times.

"If you need that medicine this month, you need it next month too and we see people breaking tablets in half and they break down in tears when they come because they have nowhere else to turn for their medicine," he says. "When we see people coming through these doors, most of them have never had to ask for help before and this is the first time and many of them are embarrassed, we see a lot of tears but, most of all, we hear a lot of thank yous because they understand that what we've done for them has literally put them in position to achieve a healthy, healthy life."

Last year that added up to more than 36,000 prescriptions.

"That's about 2.5 million dollars worth of medicines," says Acaldo, "all free of charge to people who had no where else to turn."

The pharmacy has been around for nearly 20 years. It was the first St. Vincent de Paul pharmacy in the country. They run entirely on donations and volunteers; former pharmacists and doctors giving back.

"I don't know what I'd do without it," says Floyd. I guess I'd roll over. I'd get sicker. I know it's a blessing."

A blessing for nearly 8,000 people last year alone.

"I'm thankful for them to have this program," says Floyd, "and I don't know what I'd do without it."

If you want to help, Acaldo says a financial donation is best, that way they can fill up on exactly what they need. There are other ways to donate as well, and they have more information on their website.


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