Struggling local families who have been hit hard by the wave of plant closures and dissipating employment opportunities have found relief for their prescription drug woes through the “Help is Here Express” bus.
The bus, which made its first stop in Ashe County Tuesday morning, acts as a clearinghouse for information on programs that provide prescription medicines for free or at a reduced cost. It is one of two buses funded by America’s pharmaceutical companies and operated by Partnership for Prescription Assistance that travels across the country in an effort to help those who can not afford necessary medications find these valuable resources.
“The bus is here to help get the word out,” Paola Lealoyd, a consultant for NC for PPA said.
Each express bus is equipped with consultants and trained specialists who are able to answer questions on how uninsured Americans can access programs that can help them pay for needed medicines. Since the bus made its first stop in North Carolina, specialists have helped 235,598 residents in 25 different cities.
Although the PPA bus has visited the Tar Heel state on 10 different occasions, this is its first stop in the High Country.
“We have not had the bus in this part of the state before but we try to cover all media markets at least once so we can get the word out about the medication programs that we can provide for struggling families,” Lealoyd said.
The Mountain Hearts center, located behind Ashe Memorial Hospital in Jefferson, was just one of many designated stops that the bus made Tuesday on its trip from Kentucky to South Carolina. Nancy Kautz of Healthy Carolinians said that the bus’s visit to hospital hill was possible through Rep. Cullie Tarleton’s coordination. Tarleton serves on the local medical assistance program advisory committee.
Although the county has a medical assistance program that provides similar health services, Kautz believes that the express bus would be a great resource for any community.
“I think for communities who don’t have medical assistance programs it would be really good,” Kautz said.
Kautz also feels that the express bus may also inform locals of the existing assistance program.
“The more education you have, you can’t lose. If one person that didn’t know about our medical assistance program before came here and we found a way to improve their quality of life some how then we have definitely done some good,” Kautz said.
For more information on how to qualify for PPA assistance of the “Help is Here Express Bus,” visit www.pparx.org or call 1-888-477-2669. Callers should have the names of their respective prescriptions on hand and the correct dosage.