One wrong step while removing a water heater from her basement, and the next thing Michelle Johnson knew, she had torn several ligaments in her ankle. But when she crutches her way into Duquesne University’s Center for Pharmacy Services in the Hill District, they have her medications ready. A year ago, she would have had to go a lot further away.

“This is great, really saves time,” she said. “This is much better than having to go to East Liberty or the South Side.”

HELPING PATIENTS—Pharmacy Technician Vanessa Bridges says interacting with patients is the best part of working at Duquesne University’s Center for Pharmacy Services in the Hill District. (Photo by J.L. Martello.)

In its first 10 months, the pharmacy—with its consulting rooms and blood testing lab, which is far more like a doctor’s office than a retail drug store—saw nearly 1,300 patients. One of them is Dean J. Douglas Bricker of Duquesne’s Mylan School of Pharmacy.

“I use it all the time, and it’s available to university students and faculty,” he said. “Now, we’re seeing about 1,600 patients a month and half are new. But the word still needs to get out.”

Bricker said the pharmacy’s goal is to assist the low-income and senior population that has been underserved for too long. About 20 percent, he said, don’t have health insurance or can’t afford the co-pay for prescriptions.

“So we started a Charity Care Program to help those patients,” he said. “It’s funded through the philanthropy of a single donor, a Duquesne graduate.”

The pharmacy also has a significant outreach initiative. Working with the Hill Community Development Corporation, the Hill Consensus Group and the Hill House Health Center, the pharmacy is conducting health screenings for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

Pharmacy Director Terri Krogh is proud of the center’s active approach.

“Its pharmacy services at its best,” she said. “The people who come here really appreciate the time we take with them. And we do a lot of deliveries for our seniors, so they like that too.”

Pharmacy Tech Vanessa Bridges likes the center’s personal approach too.

“I used to work in a large mail-order pharmacy and never saw a patient,” she said. “Here, I get to interact with them and get to know them. It’s much more satisfying.”

Barbara Strothers, who works across the street as the building superintendent at One Hope Square, has been using the pharmacy center since it opened.

“They really care about people. They go out of their way to make sure you get your medicine,” she said. “And I can walk here now. We were long over due for this. It’s one of the best things that could happen for the Hill. I tell everyone about it.”

One of the people she told is her former co-worker Kami Manns, now an intake specialist at the Hill One Source Center.

“I knew (the pharmacy center) was here, but I was used to going to Giant Eagle,” she said. “But one day I had a lot of prescriptions for my daughter, so I tried it. They transferred everything and had all but one ready right away. I recommend it 100 percent. The staff is nice and they will help you. I told a girl I work with and now she comes here too. So, I’m trying to spread the word.”

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