By Meg Moss, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
What started in a closet in a medical practice has grown to serve thousands of Lee County residents since 1993. To this day, The Helping Hand Clinic fills a unique niche in our community.
The Helping Hands Clinic exists to assist low-income, medically uninsured patients who are chronically ill by providing quality medical and dental diagnostic and pharmaceutical care at no charge to the patients.
In 2020, over 1,400 individuals were served through this organization. It is through the volunteer time of nurses, physicians and dentists that this is able to happen. It is also through the dedication of the Helping Hands Board of Directors.
To expand their reach in the community, Helping Hands has recently translated their brochures into Spanish, and have decided to serve the undocumented residents of Lee County.
Regarding the pharmacy program at Helping Hands, they provide free medication to those who are uninsured. Currently, their pharmacy fills thirty-day prescriptions, and over the county medications. With the increased need of medication due to the pandemic, they are in need of additional funds for these medications. But with their partnership with locally owned Sanford Pharmacy, and the help of fundraisers and donors, they continue to meet the needs of the uninsured in Lee County. “Our relationship with Sanford Pharmacy had been wonderful. They really help us keep costs down” states Helping Hands Executive Director Franceine Atiebrah.
I spoke with the owner and pharmacist of Sanford Pharmacy, Priyakant Patel, about how they are able to keep their prices so affordable for the Clinic. “We’re a small, locally owned pharmacy. We don’t have the layers of leadership that the big chains have. Plus, not everything is about money. We can always beat the prices of other pharmacies in town, but even if we just break even, we’ll assist the Helping Hands Clinic. I want to help the community. The Clinic reached out me initially, and it has turned out great for both of us” states Patel.
I also spoke to Sanford Pharmacy’s other pharmacist, Erica Wolf. She indicated that “our goal is the same as that of the Helping Hands Clinic…to help the patients. And we’re able to get them a better price because we’re a small business.”
Locally owned small businesses and non-profits are the backbone of our community. And when they can partner with each other, there can be great outcomes, as evidenced by the partnership between the Helping Hands Clinic and Sanford Pharmacy.