2:30 P.M. EST Feb. 10, 2010
United Methodists are working with community partners and
staff members of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries to
establish a free pharmacy to serve the poor in central Ohio.
The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio, set to open by late
February, is an initiative of the West Ohio Annual (regional)
Conference. It will operate in partnership with area hospitals, medical
associations, health organizations and foundations.
A licensed pharmacist, Allan Zaenger, 53, will be executive director
of the pharmacy at the Livingston (Ave.) United Methodist Church in
Columbus. The patient services coordinator is Mariellyn Dunlap, a
missionary through the Church and Community Workers program of the Board
of Global Ministries.
"The charitable pharmacy program is a creative and effective way for
the West Ohio Conference and our partners to engage in ministry with
the poor," said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, leader of the conference. He
noted that ministry with the poor and improved health services are
among the mission priorities of The United Methodist Church. Ough is
president of the New York-based mission agency.
An editorial in The Columbus Dispatch praised the church and those
working with it for coming to the rescue of people with no prescription
drug insurance or means to pay for medicine. The editorial called the
pharmacy “good medicine.”
"When people must choose between giving their child food and filling
a needed prescription, there's not much of a choice there," Dunlap
said. "We want to try to ensure that no parent in Franklin County has to
make that decision."
“Between 2004 and 2008 in Franklin County, the number of adults who
lack access to needed prescription drugs increased by 40 percent, to an
astounding 146,553 people,” Dunlap said.
Pharmacist Allan Zaenger and patient services coordinator Mariellyn
Dunlap will serve the new pharmacy. Web-only photo courtesy of Bruce
"When I was visiting a local free clinic, a man came in whose
blood sugar was sky high. He knew it was dangerous, but said he
couldn't afford all five medications his doctor prescribed. The one he
could afford wasn't doing enough. That man is exactly who we're here to
"The pharmacy speaks to Jesus' healing ministry, and to the church's
desire to promote the health of all persons in the community," said
the Rev. Cyndy Garn, chair of the pharmacy's board of directors.
Ough and Zaenger note that the Columbus pharmacy is modeled in part
on a similar one in Cincinnati begun several years ago by the Roman
Catholic Order of St. Vincent de Paul. The bishop said the facility at
Livingston Church is the first in the conference's long-range vision of
a network of free pharmacies.
Zaenger says the pharmacy will initially operate a few hours three
days per week. It will later increase to three eight-hour days per
The annual conference has an impressive line-up of partners
supporting the pharmacy.
Franklin County and the Columbus Medical Association contributed
$50,000 each to help get the pharmacy started. Hospital partners
include the Ohio State University Medical Center, Mount Carmel Health
System, Nationwide Children's Hospital, and OhioHealth, a faith-based,
nonprofit that brings together a group of health care facilities,
including many with Methodist links. Access Health Columbus and the
Columbus Foundation also are supporting the pharmacy.
Zaenger said he felt "called by the Holy Spirit" to undertake
the work at the charitable pharmacy.
"I had been in a consulting pharmacy situation for 20 years," he
said. "I was at the stage of seeking what's next when I heard a
presentation about the pharmacy at Access Health Columbus and expressed
an interest in being involved. Things unfolded from there."
Inventory and service
Inventory for the pharmacy will come from varied sources. "We will
purchase some medications, especially generic drugs that tend not to
cost too much," Zaenger said. The pharmacist said he also will receive
unused medicine from extended-care health facilities, samples from
doctors’ offices and some manufacturers' assistance programs."
Patients will go through an enrollment process to become qualified
to receive prescription medication from the pharmacy.
United Methodists also can support Dunlap’s work here.
*Wright is a writer and consultant for the United Methodist Board of
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.