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Provident Hospital opens new pharmacy

Thursday, September 18, 2008
Chicago Defender
by Wendell Hutson

A new pharmacy opened this week at Provident Hospital of Cook County, two years after breaking ground for it.

“This is a major step forward in quality of services for the thousands of people who rely on us each month at Provident to fill prescriptions,” said Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. “This new pharmacy gives us access to an important new resource to provide our patients with the medicines they need to stay healthy.”

Patients said they hope the new pharmacy will also cut down the wait time for getting prescriptions filled.

“I have waited as long as five hours to get my high blood pressure medicine filled. That's a lot of standing for someone my age,” said Ester Brook, 63. “I would go to Stroger Hospital on the West Side, but I live closer to Provident.”

Provident Hospital, 500 E. 51st St., once a Black-owned hospital, re-opened 15 years ago after the county purchased it through an auction from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for $1. The new pharmacy is located behind Provident at 430 E. 50th St.

First-time patient Nancy Young, 28, said her pharmacy experience last week at Provident was anything but pleasant.

“It was crowded, smelly, hot and a six-hour wait to get my prescription filled. The only reason I came here is because I lost my health insurance coverage after my husband was laid off,” Young said. “I really miss having health insurance because having to come to Provident is not worth it. I'd rather stay sick.”

And while most patients at Provident Hospital do not have health insurance or cannot afford medical care, some patients do actually pay for their services, including prescriptions.

“Even though I have health insurance I come to Provident for my medical needs because they have good doctors here,” said Donell Hardy, 49, a high school chemistry teacher for a Chicago Catholic high school. “I could go to the University of Chicago for medical care or Walgreens to get my prescriptions filled, but why do that when I can get all my needs taken care of at one place?”

Dr. Aaron Hamb, chief medical officer for Provident Hospital, said the new pharmacy will eleviate the space issue and cut down the wait time for patients.

“This new pharmacy will improve the efficiency of filling prescriptions for patients because it brings two areas previously separated into one combined location,” Hamb said. “This means a decrease in wait time. Now, there will be more drop off and pick up windows.”

The new $3 million pharmacy doubles the seating capacity to 90 and triples the number of customer service stations for patients to six. Hours of operation are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The old pharmacy was 500 square feet and filled 1,000 prescriptions per day, and the new pharmacy is 2,000 square feet and is expected to double the number of prescriptions filled, said Chinta Strausberg, a spokeswoman for Stroger. Funding for the pharmacy came, in part, from a $1.5 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

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