POLITICS

After Baltimore Unrest Closes Pharmacies, City Helps Residents Access Medication

05/13/2015 11:14 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2015

The Baltimore City Health Department continues to provide assistance to thousands of primarily elderly and disabled city residents whose access to essential medications was disrupted by rioting in late April.

After the rioting, which occurred after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, 13 pharmacies in the city closed due to looting or fire damage, according to the Baltimore City Health Department.

In response to the pharmacy closings, the Baltimore City Health Department set up a special medication hotline at 311 that residents could call to seek assistance in getting their medications. The department went door to door in affected neighborhoods advertising the hotline.

It also erected a webpage for residents to check on the status of their pharmacy, and find the open pharmacy closest to them.

Residents who seek help on the hotline can have medication delivered to them, get a prescription transferred or request shuttle service to a nearby pharmacy. The city is providing shuttle service to a Super Walmart and a Giant supermarket five days a week from 10 residential complexes, according to Baltimore City Health Department spokesman Michael Schwartzberg. In addition to helping with access to medications, the shuttles are intended to help residents pick up groceries that may have become less available due to the unrest. The city plans to continue the shuttles through the end of May.

The hotline has fielded at least 150 requests and continues to operate, Schwartzberg said.

All but four of the 13 pharmacies had re-opened as of Wednesday.

CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to reflect that the shuttle service takes residents to box stores that sell groceries, medication and other necessities, and not simply to "pharmacies" as previously reported.

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