COUNTY—Acharitable pharmacy that will be able to provide free or lowcost prescriptions to local residents in need will soon be coming to Union County.
On Thursday, during a regular meeting of the Union County Board of County Commissioners, pharmacist Ritesh Shah, CEO of the Legacy Pharmacy Group, announced plans to expand his Red Bank operation into the local area.
“During the pandemic, Ritesh was a great help to Union County,” County Manager Ed Oatman said. “When we were not able to get the PPE or the medical equipment that we needed, he was able, through his pharmacy, to help us stock the testing center.”
Mr. Shah also helped to coordinate vaccination efforts in the area, Mr. Oatman said, by working together with other pharmacists to prepare and administer hundreds of doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
ThefirstRiteshShahCharitablePharmacy opened its doors in Monmouth County in May of last year after Mr. Shah, who manages more than 650 commercial pharmacies in 14 states, lost his sister to Covid-19.
“I had promised my sister that I would come back to India to celebrate Diwali with her in 2021. She was going to immigrate here to this country this year. But that meeting never happened,” Mr. Shah said. “When we lost her, my wife and I decided to open the charitable pharmacy to help people who don’t have any means of getting medication. It is our way of remembering my sister and of keeping her memory alive.”
To date, the Ritesh Shah Charitable Pharmacy in Red Bank has dispensed more than $300,000 worth of medications like amoxicillin, penicillin and insulin to local residents in need. The project, Mr. Shah said, has been entirely “self-funded,” with some help along the way from family and friends.
The new charitable pharmacy, which is slated to open its doors in Elizabeth at some point in the coming months, will provide services to anyone who falls within 300 percent of the federal poverty line (estimated to be anyone who earns less than $43,700 per year as part of a one-person household) but who is ineligible to receive Medicaid or other federal benefits.
“This project will have a lasting impact on Union County residents, and we are forever grateful for your efforts,” Board Chair Sergio Granados told Mr. Shah.
The board also congratulated Commissioner Alexander Mirabella on Thursday for his 25 years of service to the county.
“His leadership led to the implementation of contact-free services, New Jersey’s first drive-thru testing facility and the distribution of vaccines,” Chairman Granados said of Mr. Mirabella, who was first elected to the board (then known as the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders) in 1997. “He is also known for his extensive work in areas like economic development, park improvements, inclusivity, veterans services and sustainability.”
Mr. Mirabella thanked the board for its recognition and for all of its support over the years.
“I am not usually at a loss for words, but this is really a nice surprise,” Mr. Mirabella said. “Serving this county in the public space has been a joy.”
ThenextmeetingoftheUnionCounty Board of County Commissioners will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 9, at the County Administration Building in Elizabeth.