Community Health Center opens pharmacy

St. Charles Community Health Center
Chantel Trahan and Michael Simmons at the new Access Health pharmacy at St. Charles Community Health Center.

With the official opening of the on-site pharmacy this month, Access Health Louisiana’s St. Charles Community Health Center in Luling took another step toward creating a true one-stop location that makes patients’ treatment all the more effective and convenient.

“We want to break down as many barriers for our patients as possible,” said Samantha Gould of Access Health Louisiana. “With the pharmacy, we’re trying to eliminate a cost barrier, convenience barrier and communication barrier and make it as easy as possible for the patient at the end of the day.”

The addition of the pharmacy allows patients of the health center or the adjoining St. Charles Parish Hospital to fill their prescriptions quickly and efficiently by creating a direct, accessible line of communication between the patient, pharmacist and physician.

“The biggest priority (in establishing the pharmacy) is strengthening the connection between the patients, the (insurance) providers and the pharmacist,” Gould said. “So for example, last week a patient came in with a prescription and their claim was denied because of the dosage amount. They wouldn’t cover it unless the dosage was changed.

“So the pharmacy was able (to speak with the doctor that prescribed the medication) and adjust what was needed. Then the pharmacy called the provider immediately had them change the dosage and resent the prescription.”

That patient left with the full price of the medication covered. The process, she notes, may have been more difficult elsewhere, where the doctor, pharmacist and patient weren’t all on site. The entire process sped up with such open lines of communication.

For patients in the Access Health network who are receiving care at other clinics, the pharmacy is set to begin sending medication via mail and courier service, which Gould said could be same day or next day delivery, depending on prescription and need. That service is set to begin over the next two weeks.

Another service available to patients in the Access Health Network is potential discounted rates through the 340B program, which is aimed at helping patients with limited or no insurance afford medicine. Gould estimated that if a drug is not covered by insurance, for example, someone eligible for 340B could generally get that drug at a discount of 50 percent.

The new pharmacy will fill prescriptions not just for health center or hospital customers, but also those written by outside physicians.

“If a patient goes to a specialist and gets a prescription, we can fill that here,” Gould said.

Pharmacist Michael Simmons, a Paradis resident, has 20 years of experience in his position and said the pharmacy’s location has definitely made things flow well.

“It helps that if there’s an issue with the script, I’m able to contact the doctor quickly, either by dialing their personal line or just walking right over there,” he said. “Be it changing the prescription or adjusting the quantity or strength. That alone makes the process go much quicker.”

The pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. With its opening, the Access Health center widened its ability to help patients in one place, already offering Adult & Pediatric Primary Care, Behavioral Health, dental care, Cardiology, Nephrology, diabetes education and WIC services.

The dental care area at the site just reopened after undergoing renovations, among the improvements was the addition of two new operatories, moving the site’s number from three to five.

“It’s given us added capability to see a significant amount of patients between providers we have here,” said Dental Manager Andre Stolier. “People have come in and seen the facility and almost have a level of shock on the improvement. It’s twice the size it was.”

The dental office has a full time dentist and another who specializes in more complex procedures including dental implants, a full-time hygienist and four expanded duty dental assistants.

“We’re full service for the most part,” Stolier said. “We want people to know here in the community that this is the spot to come for dental care.”

The dental office

is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Friday. To schedule a dental appointment, call (985) 785-5847. For appointments for all other services, call (985) 785-5800 or log onto accesshealthla.org for more information.

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