Oct. 7—Two local churches have said that they will provide support to a local program that offers struggling patients free prescription medication.
The move comes weeks after the Prescription Assistance Program of Ohio announced a potential September closure if it did not receive funding.
President Joel Lucia noted that a $30,000 donation from Advent Lutheran Church in Mentor will cover its costs for half a year, while First Church, Congregational in Painesville has also offered $1,000 in funding. The program is still looking to raise support through online fundraising and mailed donations.
Lucia said if the program receives another $30,000 to $35,000, it will have enough funding for a year. He hopes to use that time to "put the program on solid ground."
"The program was within weeks of ceasing services," he said in a written statement, later adding that the donations "will now offer an opportunity to find other avenues of support."
Rev. Steve Bond, pastor of Advent Lutheran Church, said that he learned of the program when he saw reports of its potential closure. He spoke with a retired pharmacist in his congregation who was familiar with the program, and she spoke with Lucia about the program's needs.
"We feel that we've been blessed, and we often times look to support programs and/or ministries that reach out and help those who are having financial difficulties," Bond said. "We also have in our ministry that we want to help an aging population and to work with seniors in Lake County."
He added, "Once we knew it existed, we didn't want to see it fall off the map."
Bond said that he hopes the donation encourages other churches, organizations and people to consider donating to the program.
Rev. Tom Coffer, senior pastor at First Church, Congregational, said, "We've got a focus right now on faith in action and how we can get more involved in the community, and, you know, how we live out our faith in the world that we're in today. And one of the ways is by partnering with organizations that are already doing work in the community."
In addition to financial support, Coffer noted that members of his church have expressed interest in volunteer work with the program.
"I just hope that it enables people to get the medicine that they need," he said.
The pharmacy previously had a three-year funding agreement with FirstChoice Home Health, Lucia told The News-Herald earlier this year, where the home care agency would provide the pharmacy with $65,000 each year. After completing part of the first payment, the agency informed the program that it would no longer be able to provide the support.
Lucia requested support from Lake County government and health officials before announcing that the program would close at the end of September if it did not receive funding.
With the recent church donations, he said, "We will continue the operation full force."
Lucia said that people can donate to the program in two ways. First, they can visit "gofundme.com" and search for "Prescription Assistance Program of Ohio." They can also send donations to the Prescription Assistance Program, 7757 Auburn Road, Unit 6, Concord Township, OH 44077.
Checks should be made out to "Prescription Assistance Program."
According to Lucia, the program is a non-profit drug repository that serves 735 Ohioans, mostly from Lake County but open to anyone who resides in Ohio, who would otherwise be unable to afford their prescription medications.
The program only charges shipping, though he said it waives those costs in the event that patients are unable to pay. The financial requirement is set at three times the poverty level, but the organization does not require financial background checks.
More information can be found by visiting papofohio.com or calling 440-350-1470.