NCHC opens pharmacy

NILES — As access to healthcare continues to be a concern in the face of COVID-19, the Niles Community Health Center has debuted another option for residents to get the care they need.

The Niles Community Health Center, located at 1951 Oak St., has now opened its pharmacy. The pharmacy includes a drive-up window to serve those who may not wish to go inside the clinic, or who have mobility issues.

The center is owned and operated by Cassopolis Family Clinic Network and opened its doors at its current location in November 2019.

“I like to say we are a one stop shop,” said Rose Willson, marketing and development coordinator for the center. “It’s extremely convenient for our patients because they can have their appointment with their primary care provider, and most of the time, their prescriptions are ready for them by the time they’re checked out and ready to leave the building.”

The pharmacy accepts most commercial insurances and all Medicaid plans including Meridian, Priority Health, and all Medicare Part D plans. The pharmacy offers options for those without insurance as well.

“Since we are a federally qualified health center, we do offer a sliding fee discount program for those who are uninsured or underinsured,” Willson said.

She said that for even with those with health insurance, prescriptions are sometimes not provided coverage. The program considers family size and income.

“It’s a nationwide problem where individuals have had to ration their medication because they simply cannot afford their prescriptions,” Willson said.

The program is to help individuals access the medications that they need, and to hopefully slow any need of rationing an individual’s necessary prescriptions Wilson said.

“Community health centers are at the front lines of this problem really making it affordable so that family don’t have to choose between health and financial situations,” she said.

The Niles Community Health Center has been a part of the community since its original location across from the hospital was opened in 2014. The center quickly outgrew the first location, requiring it to grow into a larger facility to serve more patients.

To access the pharmacy’s services, one does not need to be a patient of the center. However, Willson said residents that there are benefits to becoming a patient first.

“The pharmacist and care provider work very closely to ensure that the medications that patients are taking are the right ones for them,” Willson said. “They have full access to each other to ask questions, and prior authorization is easier to get since we are all in the same building.”

The health center, like other health facilities around the area, has shifted some of its operations in the face of COVID-19. Many appointments and check-ups have been shifted to a. telemedicine format for the time being.

“With COVID-19, the face of healthcare has changed immensely,” Willson said. “Everyone across our country is changing the way we do things.”

Patients are screened before entering the health center and the pharmacy. Patients utilizing the pharmacy services are encouraged to use the drive-up window to limit the number of patients inside the building.

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