Coastal Family Health Expands Drug Program

Coastal Family Health Center is expanding its services to patients who can't afford medical care.

The center hosted an open house Tuesday and announced a new partnership with a prescription drug company to provide free medicines to those in need.

Coastal provides affordable medical care to thousands of patients each month at its Division Street clinic in Biloxi, along with eight other clinics throughout South Mississippi. Community leaders unveiled the improvement plans while kicking off "National Health Center Week".

Coastal Family Health offers medical care to the uninsured and underinsured. The eight clinics in South Mississippi serve more than 14 thousand patients a month.

Sister Martha Milner is president of the health center's board of directors.

"They come for primary health care, for dental care, for optometry, for psychiatric, for substance abuse counseling and pharmacy support," she explained, at a ceremony marking the start of "National Health Center Week".

The clinic's pharmacy will soon get a boost from Pfizer drug company. Pfizer is about to expand it's "Sharing the Care" program, meaning even more health center patients will be eligible for free or reduced price prescription medicines.

"With this expansion, Pfizer anticipates that 30 percent more of the community patients here at Coastal will be able to gain access to the medications that they need," said Pfizer spokesman, Joe Zorzoli.

Robin Hubbard shares a true appreciation for the program. Without the low priced prescriptions she receives, she'd probably do without her medicine.

"I had to do without. Before I got on the program, I was doing without. And you know that's kind of sad and embarrassing to say, but that's the case," said the Biloxi resident.

Along with expanding its prescription drug program, Coastal Family Health also plans on building a much larger medical clinic. The new facility, with nearly double the square footage, will be located  on city owned property between Main and Lameuse Streets.

Advocates of affordable health care say healthy communities should be everyone's concern.

"Because sick people don't work well, sick people can't learn well and sick people can't make good decisions," said Karlyn Stephens, a founding board member.

Pfizer began its partnership with Coastal Family Health in 2002.  Since then, the program has provided free or reduced cost prescription medicinces to more than seven thousand patients.