People Helping People makes a difference in Carroll County
By Billy Stidham
The high cost of prescription drugs makes life difficult for many people, but if you live in Carroll County, People Helping People might be able to ease some of the burden.
“We probably spend $20,000 a year buying prescriptions,” said Sue Hopkins, a founding member of People Helping People. “A person will call us saying they need a prescription filled and we call the pharmacy and find out what it’s going to cost us. Sometimes we say, ‘it’s $300 for this antibiotic, can’t you find something else or talk to the doctor?’ ” Sometimes there’s a generic that’s just as effective and sometimes there’s not.”
Hopkins said People Helping People helped fill more than 700 prescriptions for Carroll County residents last year.
It isn’t just the elderly in need of life-saving medicine.
“It’s a mix,” Hopkins said. “We do deal with a lot of the elderly, people with catastrophic illnesses like asthma and diabetes. Another group that we help are people newly out of jail and they need their medications to help them stabilize, because they were getting them in jail. Some of these medicines … if you go one day without your medicine it’s enough to put you back in a psychiatric hospital [or jail].”
The organization also helps newly disabled people waiting to receive Social Security benefits.
“It’s a two-year wait sometimes and in that time frame you might not have any health insurance or income,” Hopkins said.
“We also help with a lot of children that have newly moved here and lost their Medicaid in another state,” Hopkins said. “It can take several months to get it re-established here in Arkansas.
Sometimes people can be critical of programs like People Helping People, Hopkins acknowledged.
“People want to be self-sufficient and we want to be optimistic about the people that we help,” she said. “I remember a gentleman that was diabetic and the pharmacist said ‘oh, you ned to stop helping him.’ He needed to be helped. Even though he wasn’t on top of his diabetes then, he sure is now. If we hadn’t helped him out when he was a little bit younger and not as mature as he is now he might not be alive today.”
Hopkins said the charity has been around for nearly 28 years.
“The Carroll County Resource Council had different committees,” she said. “I think we were called Helping Hands at the time. We met as a committee and decided that one of the areas that needed help in Carroll County were people needing help with their prescriptions.”
Local pharmacists play a large role, too.
“We all met with pharmacists (in the beginning) from all over the county,” said Hopkins. “They let us know … about the different laws in place that can make this difficult. But we would get on the phone with them and they would research cheaper drugs. Sometimes [people] call from the pharmacy and say ‘my pharmacist said to call you,’ and a lot of time we can help them the same day with their medicine.”
Donations for People Helping People can be mailed to PO Box 243, Eureka Springs, 72632-0243 or paid online at PeopleHelping.org.
For more information and eligibility criteria call the Mercy Clinic at 870-423-5145 and ask about People Helping People.