PHARMACY

Walgreens, Chicago health network gift flu vouchers to local patients in need

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Access Community Health Network of Chicago on Tuesday teamed up in an effort to protect more people in Chicago’s medically underserved communities from the flu this season, through a new program in which Walgreens will provide more than 10,000 free flu shot vouchers for eligible Access patients.

“Heading into what are traditionally the peak months for flu activity in Chicago, this is another way we’re helping to protect more people from influenza and providing convenient access to Walgreens flu shots in medically underserved communities,” stated Ron Weinert, Walgreens VP health systems services. “Our relationship with Access demonstrates the valuable role Walgreens pharmacists are playing in health care today, coordinating care to improve patient outcomes and lower costs as part of a patient’s care team. It also underscores the importance of residents in our community being linked to a medical home.”

Qualifying individuals can receive a voucher at any of Access’ 50 community health center locations throughout the Chicago area. Vouchers are good for one flu shot at any Walgreens pharmacy or Take Care Clinic. 

In order to be eligible to receive the voucher, a patient must not have insurance coverage for a flu shot and not be able to afford one without the assistance of the voucher.

Walgreens and Access have been working together for more than a year as part of a broader coordinated healthcare relationship to improve community health and reduce the racial and ethnic health disparities in Chicagoland’s most vulnerable communities. For example, in November, Walgreens opened an on-site pharmacy at the Access Genesis Center for Health and Empowerment health center in Des Plaines, which predominantly cares for an underserved Hispanic population.

“By working closely with the pharmacy leadership at Walgreens, we at Access believe that with our shared vision, we can improve access to care, care coordination, quality and health education and transform the primary care medical home approaches at Access and serve as a national model,” noted Donna Thompson, Access CEO.

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PHARMACY

Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy hires Craig Stephens

BY Alaric DeArment

FLINT, Mich. — Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy has hired Craig Stephens as group VP business development and trade relations, the company said Wednesday.

Before his appointment at Diplomat, Stephens was SVP and practice leader for Evergreen Rx. There, he negotiated contracts and managed performance of prescription benefits for Medicaid, Medicare and commercial health plans. In addition to his career at Evergreen Rx, he also served as VP for Walgreens Health Services and also worked for UnitedHealth Group and SmithKline Beecham, a predecessor of the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.

"Craig’s broad background as an industry executive in pharma, prescription benefit managers, health plans and specialty pharmacy make him the perfect fit to help drive Diplomat’s continued expansion," Diplomat president and CEO Phil Hagerman said.


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Walgreens expands pertussis vaccine offering in response to Illinois outbreak

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Tuesday expanded its offering of immunizations that provide protection against pertussis (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis-Tdap vaccine) to all of its more than 580 pharmacies throughout Illinois with no appointment necessary.

This comes as the Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday alerted residents statewide to a series of pertussis outbreaks. “We note the recommendations of health officials that the best thing people can do to keep themselves and their families healthy during a possible outbreak is to get vaccinated,” said Denise Scarpelli, Illinois market pharmacy director for Walgreens. “In addition to children, who are the most vulnerable, those who care for or are in contact with children should also be immunized. We hope that through greater access to immunizations, we can keep our communities healthy and help limit the spread of the virus.”

McHenry County has reported an outbreak of more than 200 whooping cough cases, a county record, which it said is affecting more than 30 area schools. Last week, officials in Lake County issued an alert urging residents to be aware of signs and symptoms that can be associated with whooping cough (coughing, vomiting, spasms), as a growing number of cases now also are being reported in Lake and Cook Counties, as well as a number of surrounding Chicago area collar counties.

Statewide, more than 1,100 people have contracted pertussis this year, according to IDPH. Health officials in Illinois are working to educate consumers about the virus leading up to winter break for schools and the busy holiday travel season.

All Take Care Clinics, located at more than 45 select Walgreens in Illinois, also offer immunizations daily and can administer vaccine to those ages 11 through 64 years.

Walgreens pharmacists in Illinois can administer immunizations to those age 14 years and older.


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