Margie O’Byrne has volunteered at Good Shepherd Clinic since it was started in 2009, and she has been a big part of the clinic’s growth and success over the ensuing years. As head of the clinic’s Prescription Assistance Department, Margie works with 4 other volunteers filling out the vast amounts of paperwork necessary for obtaining drugs that are critical for patient care. The drugs are free to patients, and the clinic obtains the drugs from sources such as drug company foundations, Dawson Pharmacy, and Good Pill, another 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Dawsonville. Drugs from the company foundations are provided free to the clinic but require massive amounts of paperwork, while drugs from the pharmacy must be paid for by the clinic. In fact, drug costs represent the largest expenditure for the clinic each year. “Last year we provided more than $800,000 worth of drugs to our patients, and that’s just from the drug company foundations,” says Margie.
Margie and her team work not only when the clinic is open and serving patients, but when it is closed, in order to keep up with the paperwork burden required to provide much-needed drugs to patients. All patients are treated individually, and each prescription ordered by a doctor requires a separate application, Margie explains. Critical drugs such as insulin pose a big challenge, because it requires refrigeration and is very expensive. But Margie tackled that challenge by contacting a friend of her son who was the regional manager of pharmaceutical company Sanofi, a maker of insulin, and arranged for the clinic to have a reserve of the drug for patients who run out before more can be obtained. Solving such problems and managing reams of paperwork are the most time consuming parts of her job, but interacting with patients is her favorite. When needed she answers the phone and helps check patients into the clinic. “You get to be friends with the patients, you get to know them,” she says. In addition to volunteering in the clinic, Margie also serves on its board, where she acts as a constant advocate for patients.
Good Shepherd Clinic gives a special thanks to Margie O’Byrne for her years of dedicated and tireless service, and also offers its gratitude to each of the dozens of volunteers who make it possible for the clinic to achieve its mission of providing free health care those in Dawson County who have none.