Published May 27, 2021 at 6:47am.
Story by Julia Baca. Photos courtesy of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
After two decades of volunteering with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and a long passion for the organization, Mike Pazzaglini made the transition to CEO at The Society of St. Vincent de Paul North Texas. Leaving a 35-year career at IBM, Mike had retired but not for long. “I was actually only retired for one day,” laughs Mike. That was in 2014. Today, Mike and the dedicated staff and volunteers at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul work hard to serve their North Texas neighbors who have fallen on hard times. The organization works to address the root causes of poverty and homelessness, and provides individualized services to those in need.
In addition to home visits, loan counseling, and an after school program, the Society also runs the first freestanding charitable pharmacy in Texas. “We discovered the need for a pharmacy while conducting home visits,” Mike says. Home visits allow volunteers and staff at the Society to get to know the people they serve and get an overall picture of their needs. Mike described that the pharmacy has been a long time coming. “One of our dedicated volunteers actually came up with the idea around 2008, but at the time, Texas law prohibited free-standing pharmacies without clinics.” Ten years later, everything came together and St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy began serving patients in 2018.
The SVDP Pharmacy has a robust formulary, providing free medications for qualifying patients. To fill orders, over-run productions of pharmaceuticals that are distributed to them from the Dispensary of Hope, helping keep the costs low. Currently, the SVDP Pharmacy serves nine counties in North Texas and Mike is hoping one day they can expand state wide.
Mike shares that recently the SVDP Pharmacy has been able to expand its delivery and mailing, removing transportation barriers for patients unable to obtain their medication. When someone is in need of services, they can apply online or speak with an intake specialist. Patients only need four qualifications to take advantage of pharmacy services: patients must be uninsured, must have a valid prescription, must be a Texas resident, and must be at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
“With one in seven Texans having incomes at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level who are also uninsured, so many people are unable to afford their medications and the problem has only worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mike shares. Fifty percent of the SVDP Pharmacy’s total volume since its opening occurred during this pandemic year. Given these unprecedented times, the SVDP Pharmacy has faced some major challenges. Patient intake is labor intensive and the pharmacy relies on a small team of just two full-time pharmacists. The increase in volume exacerbated by COVID-19 is also a challenge for limited staff and volunteers.
Despite these challenges, the SVDP Pharmacy has made an incredible impact in the community. Since March 2020, they have filled more than $3.4 million in prescriptions and remained open every day except one since the pandemic started. Mike shares the importance of the organization’s role. “It’s really about getting life-saving medications to people who need them. Too often people get sick, miss work, can’t afford their medications, and get stuck in this cycle.”
St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy is passionate about serving the community and their future is bright. To support their goal of expanding services statewide, the SVDP Pharmacy is embarking on a $3 million capital campaign and they’ve successfully raised $1 million so far. Passionate people are the reason why the Society as a whole is so impactful. “I love the people and I love the work,” Mike says. The Society has many volunteering opportunities including pharmacy intake, working at the parish-run food pantries, or even fundraising. The SVDP Pharmacy is open Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 2:00pm. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation visit the Society’s website. If you’re interested in learning more about the SVDP Pharmacy and its services, visit their website.