In 1992, a task force of the Durham County Hospital Corporation conducted a needs assessment and feasibility study for a pharmaceutical assistance program for senior adults. They concluded that two public health issues needed to be addressed:
- financial access to medications for seniors with limited incomes
- and polypharmacy – the use of multiple, sometimes unnecessary medications.
Senior PharmAssist was created to address those needs in Durham and began serving participants in June 1994 as a program of the Coordinating Council for Senior Citizens. In 1998, our agency amicably separated from the Council to become an independent organization.
From day one, Senior PharmAssist has combined medication access with medication therapy management to ensure that our participants are receiving the medicines they need and avoiding those they don’t need. We also furnish individuals with tailored referral to other community resources that can save them much-needed funds and address other significant needs. In addition, we help Medicare beneficiaries in Durham County understand and make informed decisions about traditional Medicare (A and B), supplemental coverage, Medicare Advantage plans, employer-sponsored retiree coverage and Medicare Part D.
Over the years, we have helped individuals obtain necessary medications in two primary ways:
- by providing direct financial assistance through a prescription card program to Durham seniors with limited means
- and by helping both our participants and others maximize alternative sources of medication assistance, including drug company programs.
In recent years, changes in Medicare have greatly altered the prescription assistance picture. While the advent of Medicare’s drug benefit has made a significant difference for many older adults and younger people with disabilities, many others have struggled with these privately administered drug plans, due to the complexity of the benefit and the out-of-pocket expenses involved.
Senior PharmAssist has addressed these obstacles by expanding to help ANY Medicare beneficiary in Durham County – regardless of income or age – sort through the dozens of drug plans available each year to select the best option for that person, at no charge. In addition, we help those eligible apply for governmental subsidies, which can dramatically reduce annual out-of-pocket expenses. And finally, our program continues to provide direct financial assistance for needed medications to Durham residents 60 and older with limited incomes who are Medicare-eligible. These beneficiaries need our help despite federal and state programs.
We provide those served with the assistance and information necessary to empower themselves to become wiser consumers and active participants in the maintenance of their own well-being. Our goal is to help senior adults remain vital and in their homes as long as possible.
Toward that end, Senior PharmAssist also advocates with others at the state and national level for policy changes that will improve medication access and safety for older adults. These efforts have yielded tangible results, including the creation of state programs such as NCRx and ChecKmeds NC.
Senior PharmAssist promotes healthier living for Durham seniors by helping them obtain and better manage needed medications, and by providing health education, Medicare insurance counseling, community referral and advocacy.
- Senior PharmAssist envisions a time in which all seniors are healthy, empowered, independent and treated with respect.
- We envision full access to coordinated healthcare and social services to enable a high quality of life for seniors and their families.
- We envision a healthcare system that is affordable, user-friendly and cost effective and that focuses on holistic “well care” rather than sick care.
- Senior PharmAssist continues to strive to be the leading pharmaceutical care model in North Carolina that honors and values older adults, and provides related preventive health services to seniors in Durham.
In all of Senior PharmAssist’s services, activities and operations, we seek to:
- Treat participants with dignity, compassion and sensitivity, and provide dependable and consistent information, care and services in a professional manner.
- Advance holistic “well care” for seniors through strategic alliances and partnerships.
- Maximize participant, organizational and community resources.
- Promote user-friendly, accessible healthcare and social services systems.
- Respond to current and future needs by taking the long view, focusing on the big picture and staying flexible and responsive to feedback from our participants, co-workers, volunteers, social service and healthcare providers, and other concerned constituents.
- Balance direct service with advocacy for systemic change.