Blessing helps lower the cost of prescription meds

Hundreds of people who rely on Quincy's MedAssist program got a boost Monday from Blessing Health System.

The Quincy Catholic Charities program helps provide prescription medications at a lower cost for people who can't afford them on their own.

Monday afternoon, Blessing donated $10,000 toward MedAssist, which will also benefit its patients at the hospital's Community Outreach Clinic, a free healthcare service to people without insurance. Last year, the COC received 3,619 applications for MedAssist and dispensed a total of 4,979 medications. The retail costs of those meds added up to $1.3 million.

Deborah Dittman is one of hundreds of people who rely on the MedAssist program. She calls it her lifesaver.

"Without them, I wouldn't be able to breathe because I have COPD, asthma, everything to do with my lungs, and if you can't breathe, you don't last very long," Dittman said.

When Dittman had insurance, she paid about $160 a month for all of her meds. When she lost her insurance, the cost would have been impossible to handle without help from MedAssist.

"I take eight medicines a day. I also have a nebulizer at home for when I really get bad, but without them, there's no way I could afford eight medicines," Dittman said.

The cost of prescriptions has gone up as well as the number of prescriptions doctors are writing for their patients. These circumstances are what have led to an increase in demand for the MedAssist program.

"In 11 years, we've raised $10.7 million worth of medications and that's just in Quincy alone. So that's a huge amount of prescriptions," Jackie Bruns with Quincy Catholic Charities said.

The Quincy branch covers Pike, Hancock and Adams County as well as some Missouri clients who cross the border to see a doctor at Blessing's Community Outreach Clinic.

"It's a vital asset from the standpoint that we can see the patients, we can do the diagnosis, but when it comes to accessing the drugs necessary for the treatment programs, it's extremely important that there's a support system there for that," Jerry Jackson, the vice president of Blessing Health Systems said.

You may be familiar with the Bridge the Gap to Health race that takes place every year in May. The race is the largest fundraiser for the MedAssist program.