Sometimes, life’s agenda goes differently than you expect. Melanie Loftus knew she wanted to open a charitable pharmacy someday — perhaps in retirement. She didn’t anticipate how short that road would actually be.
In 2018, Loftus signed up to become a volunteer at the Hope Clinic of Ross County, a free faith-based clinic that provides medical and dental services to uninsured patients. At the time, she was living nearby, in Chillicothe, Ohio, working as a pharmacy manager at Sam’s Club.
During the onboarding process for Hope Clinic, Loftus mentioned that she’d always wanted to open a charitable pharmacy. “I did a rotation at one in pharmacy school and just fell in love with it,” she said. “This is what I want to do. It’ll probably be a long time from now,” she told them.
Loftus said the Hope Pharmacy helps a lot of people who are in between jobs or who’ve recently lost their insurance coverage, similar to the charitable pharmacy where she did a rotation during pharmacy school. People would use the program for two or three months, until they had another job and new insurance, she said. “It was really a stepping stone, just getting them back up to where they were good again.”
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Loftus, who has a 4-year-old son, said the road to opening the pharmacy was time-consuming but added that she’s getting better at time management. Overall, the experience has been rewarding.
“We’re only open one day a week, but people can call and leave messages,” she said. “Sometimes the messages aren’t like, ‘Hey, I need this refilled,’ or ‘Do you have this drug?’ They’re like, ‘I just wanted to call and tell you guys how helpful this has been.’ Just the stories that people tell you. It’s just amazing to be able to be there for people in that time of need, even if it’s just for a short time.”