PITTSBURGH — Dusquesne University has stepped in to fill a difficult role — delivering basic health care and medications in a poor inner-city neighborhood.

Dusquesne has opened a pharmacy to serve Pittsburgh’s Hill District, which hadn’t had one for years. The school says the program is the first of its kind in the nation, and they hope it will be a model for other inner cities.

“It’s not a browse-the-aisles pharmacy,” with soft drinks and candy for sale, said J. Douglas Bricker, Duquesne School of Pharmacy dean. Instead, the focus is solely on patient care.

When a new patient comes in with a prescription, they first go with a staffer to a private room to review personal health issues. That way, the pharmacy more actively supports both the primary care doctor and the patient.

“We do a lot of cholesterol screening, and then counsel patients on healthy diet, healthy lifestyle,” all for free, said Terri Kroh, the pharmacy director.

“They take their time and explain,” said Barbara Strothers, a longtime area resident.

Strothers, 55, said she’s sent many friends to the pharmacy, and she feels it’s helping efforts to revitalize the community.

She said the pharmacists not only fill her prescriptions, but also take the time to find the lowest-cost medication and monitor her progress and needs.

Bricker said the experiment was part of a plan to be better neighbors to people who live near the school. But it’s also based on some bottom-line realities of the health care business.

Quality preventive care “decreases emergency visits and hospital stays,” Bricker said.