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The Pharmacy Connection

Kim Bannister, LH, PC Agent, of Skipwith is the new Medication Enrollment Coordinator for The Pharmacy Connection at VCU Health CMH.

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) has offered a medication assistance program since 2003. This valuable service is given at no cost to qualifying patients with little to no insurance. The Pharmacy Connection is part of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital's commitment to the citizens of the communities they serve.

To honor that commitment, they’ve just hired a new Medication Enrollment Coordinator, serving as a liaison between drug manufacturers, physicians and qualifying patients. Meet Kim Bannister, LH, PC Agent, of Skipwith. She’s always had a job in the medical field. She spent 11 years in the military medical corps. She sold health insurance for 15 years and then worked for the Southside Health District for another 10 years as the Medical Reserve Coordinator. She worked closely with VCU Health CMH during her time at the health department and remembers referring clients to the Pharmacy Connection program. Because of the time she spent in other people’s homes selling insurance, she understands the hardships people face, having to choose between paying the heating bill or paying for medications.

 

Kim has two daughters who are married, one grandson, and another grandchild on the way. She enjoys sports and has spent years umpiring and coaching baseball and softball. She still volunteers for the medical reserve corps with disaster relief and provides training about infection prevention for churches, nursing homes and day cares.

 

How does The Pharmacy Connection work?

VCU Health CMH's Pharmacy Connection utilizes software provided through the Virginia Health Care Foundation that includes information on more than 7,000 medications. Many prescription drug manufacturers have patient assistance programs for uninsured, low-income patients. This software helps the patient cut through the red tape reducing time, assisting with applications, eligibility, tracking, refills, reports and ultimately helping more low-income, chronically-ill patients get the medications they need to stay healthy. Most patients get the medications at a reduced rate or at no cost to them up to one year and then they have to reapply, and the Pharmacy Connection helps them do that.

Eligibility is based on household income and pharmaceutical manufacturers’ guidelines.  The Virginia Health Care Foundation has a special category of grants for medication assistance called RxRelief Virginia, which is available because of an appropriation from Virginia’s Governor and General Assembly. In FY20, RxRelief Virginia helped 12,063 uninsured Virginians from 75 localities obtain $104 million in free, or low-cost medicines and supplies utilizing only $1.6 million in state funds.

All of the major classes of medication are included, covering chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to hypertension, clinical depression to asthma and more. Since its 1997 launch, The Pharmacy Connection has generated more than $6.3 billion in free medications for more than 351,000 sick, uninsured Virginians via more than 5.3 million prescriptions. Visit www.vhcf.org for more information.

 

How do I know if I qualify?

While there are general income guidelines, many manufacturers qualify patients on a case-by-case basis.

Who do I call?

VCU Health CMH's Pharmacy Connection is administered through the CMH Foundation. Patients can be referred by their primary care physician. The number for patients to call for more information or to schedule an appointment is (434) 447-0856. The Pharmacy Connection is open Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. by appointment only.