Nation's first pharmacy on wheels hits CT streets

With brick-and-mortar chains downsizing, the Yale New Haven Health said the bus fills a critical gap – especially for patients with no car or no home.

John Craven

Jul 10, 2024, 9:02 PM

Updated 4 days ago


If you can't make it to the drug store, it can now come to you – all thanks to a new state law.
On Wednesday, Yale New Haven Health and Yale Medicine showed off the nation's first mobile pharmacy. With brick-and-mortar chains downsizing, the health system said the bus fills a critical gap – especially for patients with no car or no home.
Heather Goodwin is your friendly neighborhood pharmacist, but this pharmacy travels to dozens of neighborhoods.
"This is a pharmacy and clinic – doctor's office and pharmacy – on wheels," she said.
InMOTION is a 38-foot long bus stocked with nearly 300 medications. The idea came from Dr. Sandra Springer at Yale School of Medicine.
"This actually includes a retail pharmacy," Springer said. "So just like you go to your CVS, your Walgreens Pharmacy. It's on a bus."
Along with a pharmacist, the bus also comes with a clinician and a medical technician. Their most common treatments include high blood pressure and diabetes, but the clinic also screens for HIV, other sexually-transmitted infections and opioid disorders.
YNHH launched InMOTION last December. A grant from the National Institutes of Health made it a reality.
The mobile pharmacy and clinic is on the road four days per week in Waterbury, New Haven and Norwich – with plans to expand across the state. Local outreach groups make sure patients know when it's in town.
Goodwin said the bus is ideal for patients in remote areas far from a physical pharmacy, new immigrants and people without reliable transportation.
"Maybe it is, they can't get to that CVS or they can't get to that doctor's office," she said. "Or the wait for their medication is three hours, and they only have a ride during this time."
Springer said many patients have no home at all, leaving them unable to use traditional pharmacies' delivery services.
"Those who are unhoused and can't access a pharmacy – potentially can't leave their belongings," she said. "Or others who just don't have transportation services."
InMOTION is also reaching people who traditionally avoid doctors and pharmacies altogether.
"One person told me that he hated going to the doctor and emergency rooms because, being an addict, you get stigmatized and you feel like they're always talking down to you,'" said Jill Corbin, who runs St. Vincent de Paul Place, a daytime shelter in Norwich.
In addition to clinic services, InMOTION also helps patients with little or no insurance sign up for free or low-cost medications.
This program almost didn't happen, though. When Yale first came up with the idea, mobile pharmacies weren't even legal in Connecticut.
A new state law changed that last year.
"Over the last couple of years, as you mentioned, we've done a lot to work to modernize pharmacy in Connecticut," said state Sen. James Maroney (D-Milford).
For Goodwin, it's about more than just filling prescriptions.
"Every single day that I leave work, I know that I have made a difference," she said. "I changed somebody's life."
Click HERE to see where the InMOTION Mobile Pharmacy and Clinic will be this week.

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