MedAssist to return to Swain Sept. 29
NC MedAssist will bring back a free over the counter medicine GiveAway event to Swain County on Saturday, Sept. 29 at West Swain Elementary School from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
This is the second time the event has been held in the county, and Swain County Health Department is hoping it will be a success once again, helping to reduce the burden of healthcare costs for county residents. Last year, 667 Swain County residents attended the event, where they were able to get 10 or more free over the counter medicines.
“In my opinion, we had a significant number of individuals served,” said Alison Cochran, Swain County Health Department director. “MedAssist compared it to one in Charlotte where 800 had come through. Comparing our small town to Charlotte, that is significant and it shows that it’s really needed in our county. A lot of people came through and said this would help them tremendously.”
Once again, Swain County Board of Commissioners approved a local match of $5,500 and Community Services of Swain, Inc. is providing $2,000 to help cover the cost.
The program is open to any Swain County resident 18 years or older. There are no income requirements.
The process to participate in the event is simple. Go to West Elementary during the hours, and fill out a form with your name, age and address. Then, participants are provided with a list of medications in 8-10 categories and are able to choose two from each category. MedAssist and the volunteers then do their best to fill the requests on a first-come, first-serve basis.
In addition to health department employees, Swain County Department of Social Services, Administration Emergency Management and Sheriff’s Department participated in last year’s event.
“It went pretty quick last time, people didn’t have to wait long,” said Amber Frost, Swain County Health Department Clinical Services director.
With many families in Swain County being low income, the program provides a real benefit, Frost said. The program helps save money and can often mean someone can purchase a prescription that otherwise they may not be able to afford.
NC MedAssist began in 1997 and has a mission to see that North Carolinians do not have to choose between purchasing food or their needed medication. The goal is also to bring down health care costs.
Last year, the program dispensed over $55 million in medicine to North Carolina residents. To learn more, visit medassist.org.
The savings of the 10 medications could be considered significant. On average, American households spend about $338 a year on over the counter medicine products, according to Yourhealthathand.org an agency founded by makers of OTC medicines and
Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
Providing free over the counter medicine could also equate to savings for the health care system. Many under served populations depend more heavily on higher cost medical care for minor ailments if they don’t have access to affordable over the counter medicine, with one in four Medicaid patients reporting they would seek treatment at the Emergency Department as their first recourse for treatment, according to Yourhealthathand.org.