JOPLIN, Mo. — Refilling your prescription can sometimes be difficult to remember. And, if that medication is used to help mental and behavioral health issues, getting them refilled on-time is crucial. The on-site pharmacy at Freeman Health’s Ozark Center is helping its patients. That’s the next installment of The Suicide Crisis: Prevention, Information, and Awareness.

“We view our pharmacy as an extension of our team,” said Jacob Hefner, Ozark Center Director of Adult Outpatient Services.

Which is why an on-site pharmacy at Freeman Health’s Hope Spring is so important to the Ozark Center Team, to make sure clients who need medication to manage their mental health have appropriate access and support.

“If we notice a client is having a difficult day, it might be that the pharmacy tech recognizes that, and because they know the client, and they know that it’s one of our physician’s clients, they’re able to reach out to the doctor and troubleshoot that,” said Hefner.

It’s a psychiatric specialty pharmacy, and it’s been serving patients on-the-spot for roughly 25 years.

“They’re able to walk right down the hall, and that prescription is received from the pharmacy and they’re able to fill that medication. And they’re able to walk out of the building having completed both stops at the same time,” added Hefner.

The pharmacy recently added a presciption monitoring specialist, who follows up with more than 400 patients, making sure their prescriptions get filled on time.

“If they’re not, then I reach out to the patient, and troubleshoot, and ask why has it been a couple weeks,” said Erica Nielson, Prescription Monitoring Specialist.

Several steps are in place to make sure medication is taken properly. It can even help prevent overdoses.

“We have bubble packs, which help with compliance and knowing that you took your medicine that day, or when you get down to maybe seven tablets left, you are able to call in that medication to get a refill,” said Nielson.

And it’s working — staff are noticing better refill rates, where patients are following through with getting their proper medication.

“Really what that tells us, sometimes when you leave your doctor’s office there’s a challenge between leaving the doctor’s office and getting that medication filled or finding time to accomplish that,” said Hefner.

That’s just one of the hurdles the on-site pharmacy helps solve… But there are other hurdles too.

“Cost, availability. A lot of times insurances don’t want to cover something that maybe they want you to try some cheaper medicine,” said Nielson.

Ozark Center’s Pharmacy offers patient assistance programs to help with the cost and it’s able to have certain medication readily available, where it may have to be ordered at other pharmacies.

“Having a specialty pharmacy allows us to offer specific treatment modalities, like Sprevato, where we would need the pharmacy to be on site to be able to administer,” added Hefner.

If you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

We also have more resources for you on four states home page dot com — just search for our suicide crisis tab.