ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - Medication can be costly and out-of-reach to those who can't afford it, but for everyone who drove up to the College of the Albemarle on Saturday, they got medications for free.
It was thanks to a mobile pharmacy called the “Mobile Free Pharmacy.”
The event also included free flu shots, which is why Nancy Perry attended.
"A lot of people say they don't like to get it, but I have an auto-immune disease,” Perry said as she waited in her car to receive her shot. “So I need it, so this is great for me."
Flu shots are being recommended by medical professionals as the coronavirus pandemic continues into its sixth month in the United States.
Perry said she passed up the free medication. "With my insurance, I'll let somebody else have that because mine's free."
The Mobile Free Pharmacy, running out of a van, is with a nonprofit organization called NC MedAssist. It pulled into the college just before 6:30 a.m. to set up, and cars began lining up before 7 a.m. The line of cars extended out onto Route 17 in front of the college.
"We typically serve between 800 and 1,000 people in a five-hour period,” Kenzie Luce, the Mobile Free Pharmacy manager, said.
NC MedAssist’s mission is to bring medications to people throughout North Carolina at no charge. Statistics from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association stated U.S. households, on average, spend about $338 annually on over-the-counter medicines.
"This is all being made possible by our generous sponsor, the Albemarle Hospital Foundation,” Kinzie explained. “They've had us out here, I believe it's the second time, so they just believe in the mission."
But the college’s nursing students also helped. They performed jobs such as bagging and dispersing medicine and providing flu shots.
"We've put a lot of effort into preparing individual billboards that will give information on COVID-19 to the general public,” Eva Wilson, a nursing student, said.
The billboards lined the side of the sidewalk adjacent to the school. The billboards contained information not only on COVID-19, but also how to properly sanitize surfaces and how to wear a mask, among other topics.
"It's really just good practice to come into contact with community members in need, especially during a pandemic,” Wilson said.
The cars drove up to the assistants because of COVID-19 guidelines, first pulling up to receive an optional flu shot before making their way to get their medication. There were also tents from insurance companies providing information on their products.
For those who missed this event, Luce said, "We hope to return early next year."