The People’s Work

As a Patient Assistance Program Advocate with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, I assist a number of uninsured patients with receiving prescribed medicines that they otherwise would not be able to afford. Our patients come from a variety of backgrounds, from those who have been established in West Philadelphia for generations, to those who have only recently arrived to the United States.

What strikes me the most about my experiences so far at my health center are the ways in which I have seen our patients carry on with dignity and strength despite very hard circumstances. A large number of our patients are unemployed due to the changes in the economy and the lack of work available. They have been dropped from insurance, and are doing what they can to make ends meet for their families and those that depend on them. Public health clinics provide a great service, but the medications prescribed can sometimes simply be unaffordable out of pocket.

The pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance programs we work with sometimes offer the only means for our patients to receive their needed medication. It can be challenging work, as many companies do not put in a great deal of overhead into their assistance programs; the whole process can be very bureaucratic. The end result, however, is worth it. Patients can stay in good health and can remain healthy as they move forward in their lives towards more promising times.

– Ben Starobin, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

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