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When a Patient Has No Home

March 20, 2019 | Express Scripts

Jennifer N. is a Provider Support Associate for Accredo, an Express Scripts subsidiary, where she coordinates new referral intake for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension & Immune Deficiency therapies, assuring smooth processing of prescriptions from the initial patient contact to completion of nursing services for beginning care.

Throughout these cold winter months, my mind has been on the homeless. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are more than half a million homeless people in the U.S. on any given night, and that number has risen slightly in the past two years.

While some of the homeless simply cannot afford to rent or buy a home, other factors contribute to homelessness, including mental illness, addiction, domestic violence and displacement from natural disasters.

When a homeless patient, who lived on a Native American reservation, came to our attention at Accredo, teammates and I jumped into action to do everything we could to get him the medication he needed. He has pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a disease that causes a constriction of the arteries in the lungs, which, in turn, causes the heart to have to work harder to pump oxygenated blood throughout the body. Without his medication, this patient, literally, would not be able to breathe.  

The patient’s physician contacted us because the patient had been picking up a three-day supply of medication at a retail pharmacy, but had been missing doses. As we later learned, Accredo is the only provider in our state who is contracted with the patient’s insurance company. In addition, the medication he is taking requires nursing services. So, having the medication delivered to a friend’s address or a shelter wouldn’t work. We needed to identify a pharmacy setting, with nursing services, that the patient could get to on a regular basis.

After dozens of phone calls and several days of coordinating efforts, our team connected with a healthcare facility that includes a pharmacy and serves the Native population. Success! And, it couldn’t have happened without a coordinated effort by several team members.

This case was complicated, but working through complex issues to help make things a little easier for patients and their physicians is what the Accredo team does best.

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