The Crossroads Health Center in Over-the-Rhine is giving something neighborhood residents haven't had for a decade: a pharmacy.

The endeavor is made possible by a block grant from the city and the University of Cincinnati's College of Pharmacy. Chad Worz, a pharmacist with Skilled Care in Mason who helped this plan come to fruition, says it will be the first full-service, not-for-profit pharmacy in the country. Located at 5 E. Liberty St., the Crossroads Center will enable anyone, insured or not, to get care. The money the pharmacy does make is to be reinvested into the community.

"I've been a Cincinnatian my whole life," Worz says. "It was a way for me to give back to me for my city"¦and better the downtown area."

The center's backers have already heard positive feedback from community residents and landlords. "Not a whole lot gets built in Over-the-Rhine," Worz notes. "There's a little community buzz about having something built that's new."
JoAnn Reilly, who spearheaded much of the effort, got Worz's support nearly two years ago. Since then, they've been securing funds and, with a board that includes representatives from Skilled Care, working with UC to find a pharmacist. They connected with Susan Lattier, and Worz says she's excited to do something more mission-driven than typical pharmaceutical work.

Rick Hytree is a pharmacy manager for Skilled Care who serves on the Crossroads pharmacy's board. He says that the project is not just about helping people fill the prescriptions, but providing them with more comprehensive medical care. "We want a more thorough way of going through diseases, talk about lifestyle changes, and overall better health," he explains.

There are people in Over-the-Rhine who can't get their medication for a variety of reasons, such as limited physical mobility or difficulties with transportation access and expense. Worz, Hytree, Reilly and others involved say that's exactly why this pharmacy is so important.

Board members encountered security issues during the construction of the pharmacy. They're working on the possibility of getting a police substation in the facility. There will be a bilingual assistant on site to help Hispanic visitors.
Hytree also sees Crossroads Health Center as a good place to train UC pharmacy students. "There aren't really that many urban settings to learn in," Reilly notes.

This is a boost for a neighborhood that can sometimes feel neglected.

As Hytree comments, "For any of us there has to be a first step somewhere."