COLQUITT, Ga. -- There are now fewer people in the area having to choose between buying their medications and putting food on the table.
In 2011, Spring Creek Health Cooperative (SCHC) provided prescription assistance to patients throughout south Georgia by serving a total of 1,269 people.
During the year, the pharmaceutical coordinator made 5,105 personal contacts with patients completing 9,974 prescription applications -- thereby filling 29,922 prescriptions valued at $4.4 million.
And because of the current state of the economy, a 15 percent increase in demand for this service is anticipated this year, officials say.
"Without this (service), most patients would not be getting the medications they need," said SCHC Executive Director Sheila Freeman. "Otherwise, patients would be picking and choosing.
"There are people choosing between food and medications. We actually have patients that tell us that."
Spring Creek Health is a non-profit corporation that has been providing prescription assistance to the uninsured and underinsured since 2001. Currently, it has offices in Early, Miller, Mitchell and Seminole counties, but also serves Baker, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Dougherty, Grady, Lowndes, Quitman, Randolph and Thomas counties, as well as five counties in Alabama and Florida.
Patients are generally referred to the organization through their doctor, as well as area health departments and Division of Family and Children Services officials. For a $30-$40 fee, people can get connected to whatever medications they may need through SCHC, officials say.
"Our goal is to eliminate disparities and create cost savings for hospitals," said Freeman.
Eligible persons include unemployed adults, employed persons without health insurance, college students, uninsured children, patients with major medical insurance but no prescription coverage and Medicare patients in the doughnut hole.
The annual income requirement for a single person is around $27,000, and for a larger group -- such as a family of four -- it is $55,000. Income limits vary, however, for pharmaceutical companies.
"Call us," Freeman said regarding the income requirement. "Don't assume you won't be eligible."
From there, SCHC assists in the prescription ordering and application process.
"We know by partnering with patients, their physicians and local hospitals, Spring Creek Health will be able to continue to achieve (our) goals and serve more patients in need while decreasing uncompensated cost and indigent care cost for the hospital and taxpayers," a news release from the organization said.
The contact information for the SCHC offices is:
- Mitchell County: (229) 522-2868; Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Miller County: (229) 758-6064; Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Early County: (229) 723-6061; Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Seminole County: (229) 524-5217, ext. 295; Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
The processing fee is $30 for in-network and $40 for out-of-network each quarter regardless of how many medications need to be ordered.