Pharmacy Hopes Fundraiser Brings Money To Help Needy

Volunteers at a charity that helps people who can't afford prescriptions say the hikes in the cost of medicine is affecting their bottom line. St. Vincent DePaul is looking forward to a golf tournament slated for next Tuesday. The event is a major fundraiser for a charity that gives away one point five million dollars a year in free prescriptions.

Semi-retired pharmacist Larry Calvert is a volunteer at St. Vincent DePaul Pharmacy. He says the work here doesn't feel like work.

"In health care in today's world there are so many things that are not fun anymore," said Calvert. "This practice of pharmacy is still fun because there is no insurance and no prescription card."

People who don't have the money to buy prescriptions turn to St. Vincent DePaul in Biloxi. Before Katrina volunteers say 60 to 70 percent of the medications that were given out came in as donated samples from doctors. Since the storm those donations have dropped to 40 percent.

Phyllis Cosentino is the business manager. "We're finding that we have fewer doctors along the coast therefore we're getting fewer samples. We're paying much more for the drugs that are coming to us that we are buying. We even get those at the whole sale cost. No one derives any profit at all for the money we give for the drugs."

Another reason there's high demand is because after Katrina the pharmacy started an outreach in Hancock County. Twice a week volunteers travel there to screen applicants. People who quality then have their prescriptions mailed to them.

"Those people have to travel farther to get to Biloxi," said Consentino. "They find it much more difficult to get the transportation over here so we are trying very hard to meet their needs."

Olivia Slyman said "Because there is so many people in need. There are people that are living on the edge. That have problems whether to spend their money or prescriptions or food and they need help especially since the storm."

Volunteers say they've been fortunate to receive several large donations since the hurricane. However, they say the heart of St. Vincent DePaul is the people who regularly give small gifts.

St. Vincent DePaul Pharmacy distributes medicine on the basis on income and need.

For information on how to donate call 228-374-9097