Lifting the weight

November 19, 2012

Mental health medications can make a normal life possible. They lift the mind from the depths of depression, level out disruptive mood swings, and aid in rational decision-making. WellSpan’s Healthy Community Pharmacy recently implemented two special programs for community members who are struggling with mental health issues.

The first program targets disorder sufferers who were recently released from York County Prison. Clair Doll, the prison’s deputy warden for treatment, said that establishing a way for former inmates to receive a temporary supply of their mental health medication can help prevent recidivism.

“We wanted to provide 30 days of medication, in order to bridge the gap between when they are released and when they can get in to see a psychiatrist,” Doll said. “Our probation officers have said this is very helpful, since access to medication can be a stumbling block.”

Prior to releasing a prisoner, Doll’s office faxes a 30-day voucher to the Healthy Community Pharmacy. When prisoners arrive to pick it up, the pharmacists offer them additional services.

“We can connect them with a family doctor or a mental health doctor, and we can get them enrolled in Healthy York Network if they don’t have any health insurance,” said Healthy Community Pharmacy Manager Trisha Rudisill, Pharm.D.

The Healthy Community Pharmacy has filled more than 700 prisoner prescriptions since the program began in 2010. Rudisill said that the pharmacy gives York County Prison a discount, and Doll noted that the prescriptions cost taxpayers nothing, since they are paid for with proceeds from inmate purchases at the prison’s commissary.

The second program began in spring 2012 and benefits patients of WellSpan Behavioral Health who are having trouble purchasing their medications or using them properly.

“We reach out to drug companies and try to obtain free medication for patients who are uninsured and can’t afford their brand-name mental health prescriptions, which can be very expensive,” Rudisill said.

Pharmacists also travel to a Behavioral Health Services clinic to consult with patients about any difficulties they may be experiencing with their medications. Rudisill gave the example of a young woman she met recently who was slouching and slurring her speech.

“After speaking with her and her father, and reviewing her chart, I discovered a problem with her medications due to kidney dysfunction,” Rudisill explained. “I made a re-dosing recommendation to her doctors, and within a week her normal day-to-day functioning had improved.”

The Healthy Community Pharmacy, located at 116 S. George Street in York, remains prepared to help the underserved of the community get the medications they need.

Healthy Community Pharmacy is a program of Healthy York Network’s community effort to address the growing needs and concerns of people who are uninsured and underinsured in Adams and York counties. To see the impact of Healthy York Network, visit their annual report

Read Susan William’s story about how a WellSpan doctor helped her manage diabetes.