Rx for Hope – new Upstate program helping people in need get medicine

ONONDAGA COUNTY, NY (WSYR-TV) – Upstate Ambulatory Pharmacy is located at 5800 Seneca Turnpike. Pharmacists there are busy dispensing drugs and a new program will also give them some hope.

“In Syracuse in particular, there is a high rate of poverty,” said Eric Balotin, director of specialty outpatient pharmacy at Upstate Medical University. “High poverty rate for children, high poverty rate for adults. We see it. We see it every day, patients who come to our pharmacy, who come to our hospital without insurance and who cannot afford their medication. It is our reason for being.

Medications for Hope helps provide free prescriptions that treat a number of conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

“The program eligibility criteria are two-fold,” explained David Geloso, associate director of retail pharmacy at Upstate Medical University. “You must be uninsured and you must be below 300% of the national poverty line. Which is pretty generous, if you think about it. A one-person family can earn up to $43,000 a year.

You don’t have to already use this pharmacy or be a patient at Upstate. Geloso and Balotin welcome this program because they have seen patients having to make difficult decisions.

“They gave up food, gas, not being able to do anything else to support themselves and their children,” Balotin explained.

Medications for Hope is based at Upstate Outpatient Pharmacy on West Seneca Turnpike. They understand that transportation can be a challenge for some. Thus, they have the ability to ship the drug directly to the patient.

“Just by ensuring that the barriers that normally prevent them from getting their medications, we’re trying to remove them all,” Geloso added.

The Medications for Hope program officially launches on Sunday, July 24. If patients or doctors have questions, they can call the pharmacy at (315) 492-5311.

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