MLK Health Center’s free pharmacy helps close to two thousand

Nonprofit pharmacy works to help those who cannot afford their medications

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Affording life-sustaining medications is an anxiety-inducing necessity for many across Northwest Louisiana. But, the MLK Health Center on Olive Street is working to alleviate the financial burden for hundreds of people.

“If we weren’t here, who would be?” said Janet Mentesane, the executive director of the MLK Health Center. “We get calls everyday, it shows there is a need.”

MLK’s free pharmacy assists 1,800 patients living with chronic conditions receive vital pharmaceuticals - drugs that normally could cost a patient hundreds of dollars. The patients are uninsured; either they make too much to qualify for medicaid, or aren’t paid enough to afford private insurance.

The backbone of the free pharmacy is the volunteers. Folks like David Burch, who, for nearly two decades, have donated time to the purposeful clinic.

“It’s rewarding and you’re giving something back to the community,” said Burch. “I get more out of it that I put into it.”

Burch said its the patients who keep him volunteering at MLK.

“I think we should all give back to the community and this is one way,” he said.

For Helen Addie, an Ida resident, she believes MLK came to her in the form of a divine gift.

“I have kidney disease, I have a-fib, I have high blood pressure and I’m a diabetic,” said Helen Addie, a patient who receives her medications at MLK. “I’m not going to say I consider myself lucky because I don’t consider myself lucky - I consider myself blessed.”

Addie said she takes about 10 different medications for the variety of conditions she lives with daily. Normally, her drugs would collectively cost her upwards of $9 hundred - an unrealistic price to swallow.

“Lord, what am I going to do?” Addie once wondered. “I’ll just have to quit taking it because I can’t afford it.”

Addie comes to MLK monthly to pick up her usually very pricey medications - free of charge.

“I couldn’t ask for anyone any better,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”

Each year, MLK gives away around $2 million worth of medications. Many of the medications are donated, others are purchased through MLK.

To find out if you quality for assistance with affording medications through MLK, call the center at this number: (318) 227-2912.

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