Note: This story is part of a continuing series on local United Way agencies.
Like millions of people in the U.S., Statesboro native Wilmart Martin has a problem — his health relies on medication that his wallet cannot always afford.
Martin is retired and, like many uninsured Americans, without a high-end health-care plan that guarantees his needs will be met.
When bills, food and other necessities are inserted into a monthly equation, little to nothing is left to address his pressing health concerns.
“Whether it’s a gas bill, a water bill or food, you can’t live for free, and things seem to cost more and more every year,” Martin said. “But you’ve got to have food, you need a place to live, and you have got to have medicine. It’s terrible trying to pay for the expensive medication, but you’ve got to have it.”
Fortunately for the 82-year-old, he has found a solution.
“Thanks to Bulloch County Med Connection, I am able to get my medication,” Martin said. “It means everything to me. It takes everything my wife and I have to afford doctor visits and other necessities to live. I couldn’t pay for medicine without the organization.”
Martin is in a crowded boat.
According to Sheri Hendrix, the director of Bulloch County Med Connection and Homebound Services, more than 700 of the county’s residents have taken advantage of the nonprofit’s services this year alone.
Med Connection, established in Bulloch County in 1982, provides emergency medication to qualified applicants, assists individuals in completing pharmaceutical company applications, and educates Medicare recipients about ways to improve and specify their Medicare prescription drug coverage. Clients who meet low-income qualifications are eligible to receive medication for free or at reduced costs — people have to be Bulloch residents and have little to no insurance for medicines, Hendrix said.
According to Hendrix, the organization operates with a primary goal of maintaining and promoting the health of people living in Bulloch County.
“The healthier a county’s residents are, the fewer dollars citizens will pay in taxes over the course of time. One of the goals we have here is to ensure that our citizens are as healthy as possible; and they can’t stay healthy without their medication,” Hendrix said. “So, that’s what we do, and that is why this organization was founded. The more someone utilizes the emergency room for problems that could be maintained, the more all of our taxes go up. We want to prevent that.”
Martin, whom friends claim is a “young” 82, said credit goes to Med Connection for his ability to keep going.
“They have helped me out a whole lot,” he said. “I am very appreciative.”
Med Connection is thankful for a savior of its own.
The organization survives through donations from local organizations and individuals.
A large portion of funds are contributed by the United Way of Southeast Georgia.
“We could not do this without the United Way,” Hendrix said. “What they do is provide funds that are necessary to keep this program alive and going.”
The United Way of Southeast Georgia recently conducted its 2012-13 fundraising campaign, which kicked off in September. The organization accepts contributions year-round.
Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.