Access Community Health Network is working with Walgreen Co. to provide enhanced pharmacy and health care services to underserved neighborhoods in the Chicago area.

Access Community Health Network, Walgreens, primary medical care, preventive health care, pharmacy services, Donna Thompson, Access Health Centers, clinical pharmacy, drug therapies, Chicago, food oasis, community pharmacy

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Community health network grows relationship with Walgreens

July 26th, 2011

CHICAGO – Access Community Health Network is working with Walgreen Co. to provide enhanced pharmacy and health care services to underserved neighborhoods in the Chicago area.

Access offers primary medical care and preventive health care in over 50 community health centers across Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Plans call for the network and Walgreens to establish a pharmacy and therapeutics committee that will provide prescribing guidelines for all Access health centers to help patients get cost-effective, high-quality drug therapies, as well as to integrate a clinical pharmacy resident with Access doctors and nurses at one of its health centers on Chicago's South Side.

In addition, Access and Walgreens will open a pharmacy inside the Access Genesis Center for Health and Empowerment health center in Des Plaines, Ill., which primarily cares for an underserved Hispanic population, the health network said.

"We are working with Walgreens to co-develop an integrated program that will ease the transition of our patients from inpatient facilities to enjoying healthy lives in the community and preventing hospital readmissions," Donna Thompson, chief executive officer of Access Community Health Network, said in a statement. "Through all of these Walgreens initiatives, Access will be better able to meet the needs of patients who often have nowhere else to turn for treatment."

Currently, Walgreens provides pharmacy services for Access' 50-plus health centers that participate in the federal 340B program, which provides deep discounts on prescription medications to some of the nation's most vulnerable patient populations. Access serves as the medical home for more than 200,000 patients each year.

"We applaud Walgreens for its willingness to build a relationship with us and for being in communities that others often pass over," Thompson said. "Walgreens is a critical component of the community health care system and needs to be part of an effective health care provider network.

"Walgreens' community pharmacy network serves more neighborhoods than any other pharmacy provider," she added. "We would not be able to meet the complete health care needs of our patients without the presence and services of Walgreens. We look forward to continuing to expand our relationship."

Earlier this summer, Walgreens unveiled another effort to help improve the health of residents in underserved Chicago communities. Under the Chicago Hometown Investment Initiative, announced with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Walgreens aims to quadruple its number of "food oasis" stores in the metropolitan area over the next few years. The food oasis locations offer a bigger selection of groceries and fresh food in so-called "food desert" communities, which have a dearth of supermarkets.

Last August, Walgreens opened 10 food oasis stores on Chicago's South and West Sides. The redesigned locations included more than 750 new food items, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen meat and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs, whole grain cereal and other healthy meal components. The company plans to double the number of food oasis stores in the city by 2012 and then double that number again in 2013 to reach a total of nearly 50.