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Commission hears of low cost drug programs for seniors

By By John Dilmore Jr.
The Escambia County Commission received several reports on the state of local health care-related programs during their meeting Monday, and all of them were positive.
Regina Gohagan with the Area Agency on Aging spoke to the commission about a pair of programs aimed at assisting senior citizens in the county with prescription drug payments.
The Senior RX Program, Gohagan said, has so far provided $190,000 worth of medications to 100 of Escambia County's seniors, and there are another 100 applications for help being reviewed.
The medicines are being distributed to seniors in all parts of the county.
Another program helping senior citizens pay for medications is the Ozanam Charitable Pharmacy Program.
Gohagen said that this program involves picking up sample medications left with local doctors by drug reps, then taking them to the Ozanam Pharmacy in Mobile. Here, they are prepared and packed for use by the county's seniors.
"This is medicine that they pay absolutely zero for," Gohagan said.
Currently, the Ozanam program is serving 250 clients in the county, providing approximately $194,000 in free medications.
Commission Chairman Larry White pointed out that the program has provided approximately $600,000 worth of free medications over the past two-and-a-half years.
The Ozanam program was originally made possible by funding from the Health Care Authority, Gohagan said, and has since received $20,000 from the McMillan Charitable Trust.
It was also reported that a used car has been obtained for use in the Brewton area by the AAA's Lunch Bunch program, which provides meals to seniors.
Ruth Harrell, of the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County addressed the commission on another health care-related topic – the use of a $50,000 grant to provide dental screenings and sealant applications for children in the county schools.
"We have now had over 2,000 children screened in the county schools," Harrell said, "and there will be about 55 dental students coming into our county after the first of the year to begin the application of sealants."
Harrell also delivered to the commission the final copy of a needs assessment that the CHEC has conducted with $5,000 received from the Regional Rural Health Network.
The assessment, Harrell said, was compiled from information gathered during focus groups held in Brewton, Atmore and Flomaton.
"I think that you will find this information helpful," she told the commission, "and hopefully as you move forward with your planning, you can get a sense of what the people feel about the greatest needs in the county."
Two of the greatest areas of need uncovered by the assessment, Harrell said, ere in the areas of education and services to seniors.
Harrell also reported to the commission that all of the county's water systems were either flouridated, or devising plans to become flouridated.
In other action Monday, the commission:
*Heard from Atmore resident Buddy Bradley, who implored the to do all they could to make sure the public lands in the Conecuh National Forest remain open and accessible to hunters. "I wish I could document al the calls that came…this weekend to my house, seeing what we can do to keep the national forest open for everybody to use as they see fit," Bradley said;
*Awarded a contract to Jim Peach Motors for a police-outfitted car for the sheriff's office, to be paid for in two installments of $11,180.93. The car will be 2004 Ford Crown Victoria;
*Heard from County Engineer John Downing on the progress of bridge repair and replacement around the county being paid for by a statewide bond issue. The county currently has seven bridges under contract for work at a cost of $1,865,000, and another three for which the paperwork has been completed but bids have not been let;
*Designated the following banks as county depositories: Bank of Brewton, BankTrust of Brewton, Colonial bank, Regions bank, First National Bank of Atmore, United bank and Escambia County Bank;
*Authorize payment of $11,960 for landfill monitoring services;
*Voted to pursue the purchase of two new front-end loaders to replace aging machines the
county already has.