Since 2006, the Health Center of Southeast Texas (HCSET) has provided affordable healthcare to people who otherwise might have gone without care. On Sept. 3, 2020, HCSET reached another milestone by launching a pharmacy that will serve its patients. The new pharmacy is operating under the same roof as the Cleveland clinic, located at 307 N William Barnett Ave.
The pharmacy offers patients who meet certain income requirements and qualify for assistance to receive their prescriptions at vastly-reduced prices.
“Since the Health Center of Southeast Texas is a federally-qualified healthcare center, we are able to offer our patients these prices if they qualify and have given their financials to the clinic. The cost of the medicines is income-based,” said Pharmacy Director Andee Kesner. “The whole point is to have all of these services under one roof. Not every med is available through our 340 B pricing, but there are a lot of different categories of medications, and a lot of drug classes have multiple meds within those classes.”
Because the pharmacy is part of the HCSET’s operation, the pharmacy has access to the patient’s records and works with doctors to come up with the best solution to address the patient’s medical needs.
“We have the ability to go in the system and see what is the best option for the patient, and if we don’t have the medicine that is prescribed, we work with the physicians to see if one of the other meds in the classes will work,” Kesner said.
The pharmacy is “closed-door,” meaning that it only serves HCSET patients.
“The purpose of a 340 B pharmacy is to break down the barriers to care. Having the pharmacy here, we are able to maintain the patients’ care better and that increases compliance with the patient. They are more likely to take their medications to maintain their health,” Kesner said.
Since the pharmacy opened, staff members have already seen the life-changing impact it is making on patients.
“We have seen patients already who are in shock at the prices for their prescriptions. It’s hard to explain to people why they can get them here so cheap. It’s because we are a federally-qualified healthcare center,” Kesner said. “We have patients paying $10 for a prescription that would have cost $400. We had a patient the other day who used to come in for blood work weekly so he could stay on a med that was cheap enough for him to afford. Now, we are able to offer him a different med that allows him to come in every three months. He also is not out the cost of the labs every week. That is something that would not have been available to him at another pharmacy.”
The turnaround time for most prescriptions is minutes. By the time patients make the short walk from the clinic to the pharmacy, pharmacy staff members are already working to fill the prescription.
“The average wait time is 10 minutes,” said Kesner, adding that medicines that are not readily available are ordered for next-day service.
“Right now we are finding ourselves ordering a lot of medications because we are still trying to figure out which ones we need to have on hand more often,” she said.
The pharmacy is unable to fill compound prescriptions at this time, but Kesner hopes to expand in that area as the pharmacy grows. She says patients’ reception of the pharmacy has been better than anticipated.
“We expected it to be amazing but we didn’t know if people would buy in, but they are,” she said.
Currently, the pharmacy can only serve those without insurance who qualify for assistance through the clinic and self-pay patients, but Kesner says that within the next two months, most major insurance policies should be accepted.
Clinic hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is closed on weekends.
According to Kesner, HCSET is also looking at adding satellite pharmacies to offer prescriptions to patients at its clinics in Livingston, Liberty and Shepherd. In addition to Kesner, the Cleveland pharmacy is staffed by Yesli Salas, senior technician, and Lori Harrison, staff pharmacist. Bilingual assistance is available.
For more information on Health Center of Southeast Texas, go online to https://hcset.com/ or call 281-592-2224.