The patients at Bluffton Jasper Volunteers in Medicine (BJVIM) Bluffton and Ridgeland clinics have been receiving a little extra care. Janice Holloway, a nurse practitioner, is providing medication education to diabetic and hypertensive patients through a research project as part of her Doctorate of Nursing (DNP).
Through extensive interviews, Holloway found that many patients did not take their medications because they did not understand the instructions on their bottles.
“I began to ask the patients if it would be helpful if they had pictures on their bottles indicating how they were to take their medications,” Holloway said. “The response was always positive. So I began to explore how using pictograms could be used for these patients.”
BJVIM made an ideal setting for the study because the clinics reach such a broad range of patients, who typically do not have health care coverage and come from varied backgrounds.
“The patients that are involved with the BJVIM have been so willing and appreciative of the teaching that is directed toward making sure they are enabled to be compliant with taking their medications,” Holloway said. “Teaching patients to understand how and why they take their medications enables them to take more responsibility for their health.”
Holloway said compliance with prescribed medication regimens is a tremendous issue in health care because more responsibility is placed on the patient to seek and to understand information regarding their health. The reason why patients aren’t taking their medications properly is typically due to visual impairments, literacy and language skills.
Holloway’s research project couldn’t come at a better time for the non-profit medical organization. Last summer, BJVIM became a member of Dispensary of Hope, a charitable medication distributor that collects and distributes millions of dollars of pharmaceuticals annually to charitable clinics and pharmacies to dispense to low income, uninsured patients. Thanks to donations from the Belfair 1811 Charitable Fund and the Auxiliary of Hilton Head Hospital and Coastal Carolina Medical Center, BJVIM purchased an annual membership for $7,500 that enabled them to acquire $320,000 worth of medications.
“These are drugs for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes,” said Pam Toney, BJVIM’s executive director. “The Dispensary of Hope allows us to be a licensed non-dispensing pharmacy for our patients. We have filled more than 1,000 prescriptions in-house so far.”
Thanks to another grant through AccessHealth of the Lowcountry, Toney was able to purchase a label machine that Holloway uses to print her easy-to-understand labels that instruct patients on what time of day to take their medications or whether or not they need to take them with food.
“This is another step in making our clinic a medical home for our patients because we’re doing patient education,” Toney said.