July 24, 2014

Healthcare: A Neighborly Approach- Southwest/ Tampa Bay- June 2004

Amy Welch Brill | 6/1/2004
As CEO of Neighborly Care Network, a non-profit in Pinellas County that helps the elderly via programs like Meals on Wheels, Debra Shade saw firsthand how rising drug prices affected her clients. Some, she says, were choosing pills over food and electricity. Others were filing for bankruptcy or taking second mortgages on their homes to pay for their prescription drugs.

To help her clients afford their medications, Shade launched Neighborly Pharmacy Services in January in Palm Harbor. The pharmacy purchases drugs from a wholesale distributor in Orlando and resells them at cost to seniors or anyone without health insurance or drug coverage. It accepts Medicare recipients.

The savings are considerable: Neighborly sells a month's supply of Albuterol, an asthma medication, for $6, for example, while national drugstore chains charge $12. Neighborly sells Viagra for $8 a pill, or about $240 a bottle, while other drugstores charge more than $300 a bottle. Neighborly sells most drugs on the market from generics to name brands.

Word has spread quickly among seniors. When Neighborly opened, it was filling about five prescriptions a day. Today it fills more than 100 a day. The pharmacy has had to add phone lines and volunteers to accommodate the more than 250 calls a day it receives from seniors requesting price quotes.

Local pharmacies have taken note. John Hawes, a pharmacist at Target's Palm Harbor store, says after several of his customers transferred their prescriptions to Neighborly, he began matching Neighborly's prices. Though most of his customers have returned, he concedes that Neighborly's prices are tough to beat.

This month Neighborly will open a store in downtown St. Petersburg. Shade is also working on opening a store in Pasco County. To avoid having to hire another pharmacist, Gaston Bedard, Neighborly's pharmacist, will fill the prescriptions at the Palm Harbor location, and a delivery driver will cart the drugs to the other pharmacies.

Meanwhile, other non-profits have asked Shade to help them start their own pharmacies. It's not an easy proposition: Neighborly owned the building that now houses its pharmacy and was able to devote the initial $300,000 Shade got from the organization's board of directors to personnel, utility and insurance costs.

Under orders to break even in three years, Shade is pursuing grants to help meet that goal.

"I'm doing this for the people who can't do it for themselves," she says.

PRICE COMPARISONS
Prices on the most popular drugs taken by seniors:DrugDoseQuantityNeighborlyEckerdWalgreensCelebrex200 mg30$ ?78$??92.09$??85.89Lipitor10 mg30????67????74.59???74.39Plavix75 mg30??111??141.59??124.09Enalapril5 mg30??????5???18.79???18.19Lisinopril10 mg30??????7???21.29???20.79

IN THE NEWS

La Belle -- City Commissioner James Singleton suffered a heart attack and died while apparently trying to break up a fight, the Hendry County Sheriff's Office says.

Lakeland -- To help bring back consumers who may be avoiding orange juice while on low-carb diets, the Florida Department of Citrus has launched an advertising campaign focusing on how orange juice can help prevent heart disease, cancer, strokes, colds and flu.

Largo -- The Pinellas County Jail is adding a $30-million, 160,000-sq.-ft. medical facility to its 49th Street location. The four-story facility will have 432 beds, up from the current 44. Construction is scheduled to be completed by late 2005.

Naples -- City and Collier County officials may be headed to court because of a decision by city commissioners to reject the county's plan for an overpass at Golden Gate Parkway and Airport-Pulling Road. The city has said the overpass would violate its comprehensive land-use plan. The county has vowed to fight the decision.

Palmetto -- Manatee County's Habitat for Humanity is planning a 34-home subdivision on 5.7 acres, which will be built for low-income families. Palmetto contributed $460,000 for the land, while Manatee's Habitat for Humanity paid $390,000. The non-profit still needs to raise $700,000 to build all the homes. Construction is expected to take four years.

Sarasota -- Infinium Labs (OTC-IFLB), which developed the Phantom gaming system similar to Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation, announced a four-for-one stock split in May. The company says it wants to make more shares available, hoping to raise $35 million for new-product development.

Southwest Florida -- For the first time in its history, the Better Business Bureau of West Florida will allow certain members to include the BBB logo in their companies' print and broadcast advertising. Current members have to be in good standing with the bureau and must sign up for the Membership Identification Program.

St. Petersburg -- The Palms of Pasadena Hospital in south St. Petersburg has begun a $23.5-million, 39,000-sq.-ft. expansion and renovation project that will double its emergency room, add two patient floors and expand surgery areas. Construction should be completed in the fall of 2005.

Tampa -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued two citations against Tampa Electric Co. (NYSE-TE) after a job candidate died at a training center in Tampa last November. TECO is contesting the citations, saying it was in full compliance with safety regulations.

Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry broke ground recently on one of the largest children's science centers in the country. The 45,000-sq.-ft., $13-million center, called "Kids In Charge!", will emphasize hands-on learning. The center is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2005.

Winter Haven -- State Farm Insurance, the state's largest auto and home insurer, is closing its Winter Haven office, affecting 67 workers. The office has lost 298 jobs in the past year because of cuts and transfers.

Education
SCHOOL MENTORS

ST. PETERSBURG -- Fifty-six companies have become sponsors for St. Petersburg's 44 public schools, Mayor Rick Baker has announced. Through the "Mayor's Mentors & More" program, corporations, including Verizon, Catalina Marketing and the Home Shopping Network, donate time, computers and money and set up school websites and logos. The companies have also promised to fund more than 400 student vocational and college scholarships for needy students over the next three years. Last year, nine companies participated in the program.

Tags: Southwest, Tampa Bay

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