Establishing an on-site pharmacy in a community health center to help indigent patients access medications and to improve care

Larry A. Dent, Timothy P. Stratton, Gayle A. Cochran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To describe the establishment of an on-site pharmacy in a community health center (CHC) to improve access to medications for indigent patients, the implementation of pharmaceutical care programs and clinical pharmacy services to improve patient care and therapeutic outcomes, and the development of an ambulatory care site for training pharmacy students. SETTING: Partnership Health Center (PHC), a federally funded CHC in Missoula, Mont. PRACTICE DESCRIPTION: Establishment of an on-site pharmacy and strategies for accessing medications for indigent patients, including participation in the U.S. Public Health Service pricing program, pharmaceutical manufacturers' assistance programs, and drug sampling, are described. The clinical pharmacy, disease management, and pharmaceutical care programs developed at the site to improve medication use and therapeutic outcomes are discussed. Development of an ambulatory care clerkship site at the CHC for training University of Montana pharmacy students is reviewed. PRACTICE INNOVATION: Partnership between PHC and the University of Montana School of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences (SPAHS) to establish an on-site pharmacy to help medically indigent patients access medications and to improve care. INTERVENTIONS: Programs to help indigent patients access, adhere, and appropriately use needed medications while decreasing clinic expenditures for medications. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of prescriptions dispensed per month, clinic expenditures on medications per month, and number of clinical services and pharmaceutical care programs developed. RESULTS: Between November 1, 1999, and April 30, 2000, the average number of prescriptions filled for PHC clients increased from 219/month to 838/month and the average expenditure per prescription decreased from $16.55/month to $0.51/month. A pharmacist-assisted refill program was implemented. Programs in diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, asthma, anticoagulation, and peptic ulcer disease were developed. CONCLUSION: Establishing an on-site pharmacy in a CHC in collaboration with a school of pharmacy significantly improved indigent patients' access to medications while decreasing clinic expenditures. Pharmaceutical care programs improved therapeutic outcomes, and clinical pharmacy services complemented the clinical activities of other health care providers in managing chronic diseases and resolving drug-related problems. The CHC provided an excellent setting for training pharmacy students in ambulatory care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-507
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Washington, D.C. : 1996)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Pharmacists, as key members of the health care team, can play a significant role in decreasing the disparity in care for medically indigent patients. To identify opportunities for pharmacists in CHCs, the University of Texas was awarded a grant in March 2000 to conduct a survey of CHCs to assess the extent to which traditional pharmacy services and pharmaceutical care services are provided by these centers and to describe any relationships that might exist between CHCs and colleges and schools of pharmacy. In addition, the grant will enable a set of guidelines for delivery of pharmaceutical care services and recommendations for effective collaborations with colleges and schools of pharmacy to be developed. This project was funded by BPHC in collaboration with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). For further information, visit the Web site .


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