Patient Stories

How Beulah Jarvis got her life back

Research has shown that free essential medication saves lives and billions of dollars for the health system.

Urban life isn’t easy, especially if you earn barely enough to pay Toronto’s high rents. And without medical benefits, it’s tough to pay for prescription medications.

Beulah Jarvis, a medical transcriptionist with bad asthma, often had to skip doses of her medication or take cheaper, less effective substitutes.

“Sometimes my asthma was so bad, I couldn’t sleep. My quality of life was terrible,” she says.

In a pinch, she’d turn to her elderly mother, also on a fixed income.

Thankfully, Dr. Nav Persaud, a top scientist at St. Michael’s MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, was running a study to test whether providing essential medicines free of charge improved people’s health and reduced overall costs to the health-care system. Beulah was lucky enough to receive free medications, for a three-year period.

It changed her life.

The medication got Beulah’s asthma under control, and the study’s pharmacist helped with her other medical conditions.

“Finally,” she said. “I didn’t have to choose between medications and food and paying the basic bills anymore.” 

Click here to see how St. Michael’s MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions is tackling the urban health crisis head on. Or make a donation here.