College of Pharmacy Supports Expansion of Pharmacy Services to Underserved Communities
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 30, 2023) — Bluegrass Community Health Center (BCHC) has been dedicated to providing comprehensive healthcare to underserved central Kentucky communities for over two decades. Through its partnership with the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy (UKCOP), BCHC ensures that underserved and vulnerable community members receive appropriate, compassionate care, including equitable and affordable medication access.
Since 2013, BCHC and UKCOP have collaborated to offer clinical pharmacy services. Under the leadership of then-Executive Director Susan Fister, PhD, RN, and Medical Director Alan Wrightson, MD, the partnership enlisted the expertise of two UKCOP faculty members, Melanie Dicks, PharmD, and Holly Divine, PharmD. Together, they developed protocols and policies to assist patients with chronic disease management, hepatitis C, substance use disorder treatment, and other conditions requiring pharmacy expertise. The team grew to include five pharmacists who integrated seamlessly with the BCHC care team, working alongside medical and behavioral health providers, nurses, care coordinators, and peer support specialists.
In July 2022, BCHC welcomed its first full-time clinical pharmacist, Kelsie Skaggs, PharmD. Skaggs expanded clinical pharmacy services at BCHC and established a retail pharmacy exclusively for BCHC patients. In March 2023, the team further expanded with the addition of its first full-time staff pharmacist, Molly Carr, PharmD, MBA. Their dedication to BCHC's mission culminated in opening the first onsite pharmacy at the Eagle Creek Drive location in Lexington in April 2023.
The expansion of services at BCHC ensures access to affordable medications for all individuals in need, regardless of insurance status. Through an income-based sliding fee discount, uninsured patients can obtain medications at significantly reduced costs. Additionally, BCHC's medical and pharmacy staff prioritize Spanish-speaking services for Kentucky's migrant and seasonal farm workers and provide other language interpretation services for refugees, facilitating access to clinic and pharmacy services in patients' native languages.
The pharmacy team at BCHC offers a wide range of services, including medication education and review, vaccine administration, and convenient home delivery. Skaggs’ appointment as a full-time clinical pharmacist highlights BCHC's recognition of the value brought by clinical pharmacy faculty members and the community-based pharmacy residency program.
Skaggs attributes her success in assuming a role as BCHC’s first full-time clinical pharmacist to her experiences training at UKCOP. "The College's PharmD and residency programs played a pivotal role in developing my skills for direct patient care in both the community pharmacy and clinic settings," she states. "I am honored to have contributed to opening BCHC Pharmacy, which works to serve communities facing barriers. I am excited to continue to expand BCHC’s services and make a meaningful impact in this setting."
Skaggs has recently been accepted into the prestigious American Diabetes Association (ADA) Scholar Program, a comprehensive career development program focused on diabetes treatment and research for early-career professionals. Over the course of five years, Skaggs will engage with an interdisciplinary cohort of healthcare professionals, gaining practical guidance on career advancement, networking opportunities, and direct interaction with esteemed leaders in the field of diabetes.
The ongoing collaboration between Bluegrass Community Health Center and the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy is transforming healthcare delivery, paving the way for a healthier and more equitable future for the people of Kentucky.