A new Asheville pharmacy celebrating its official grand opening on Thursday offers an extra benefit beyond just filling your prescription – the Asheville Buncombe Community Pharmacy also is putting its profits into funding a free local medical clinic.
The retail pharmacy, which operates just like other retail pharmacies you’ll find in Asheville, such as CVS. It has the ability to bill major insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid, and features competitive cash pricing for those without insurance, according to pharmacist David Taylor, its only employee.
The Asheville Buncombe Community Pharmacy is a project of the nonprofit AshevilleBuncombe Community Christian Ministry. The goal is to fund at least one full-time physician to staff ABCCM’s free clinic, which right now sees local doctors coming in to staff the clinic for free on a rotating basis. “We feel the people there deserve the same quality of care” they would find at any other clinic, Taylor says.
“We’re really trying to spread the word to people who are going to a pharmacy on a regular basis,” Taylor says.
“We want them to know they can get exactly what they’re already getting at the exact same price, only here, their money will go back into the community to serve the people who use the clinic,” he adds.
The pharmacy opened quietly in June and has been getting settled into its location at 356 Biltmore Ave., a building near Mission Hospital that is home another ABCCM clinic that serves people with behavorial issues and RHA Health Services Inc. Mission Health, Buncombe County and ABCCM are also partners in a comprehensive mental health care center in the building.
Here’s how the pharmacy’s business model works, says Taylor, using the example of a client coming in each month for a cholesterol drug. The client may pay a $5 co-pay for a drug that actually costs $120 or $130. The client’s insurance reimburses the pharmacy for the price of the medicine, plus a dispensing fee (essentially the pharmacy’s margin) that the pharmacy negotiates to help cover overhead costs. With just one employee in Taylor, and because Buncombe County government gifted the pharmacy the space and covers utility costs, the pharmacy has the ability to funnel proceeds into the free medical clinic project.
Taylor, who grew up in Georgetown, S.C., studied at the University of South Carolina and earned a bachelor’s degree there before continuing at its pharmacy school. He’s worked as a pharmacist at Ingles, and part-time for ABCCM, where he made the connections that led him to be chosen to lead up the new Asheville Buncombe Community Pharmacy.
“I came onboard here in hopes of being part of something bigger,” Taylor says. “We just need to get the word out. By doing the exact same thing they’re already doing every month, people can donate, indirectly, to ABCCM,” he says.
The Asheville Buncombe Community Pharmacy hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, email Pharmacy Manager David Taylor at [email protected] or call (828) 398-0123. It’s located at 356 Biltmore Ave.