Student Pharmacists Provide Immunizations to City Hall Staff

On October 21, 2014, Pacific’s American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) collaborated with the Operation Immunization Committee (OIC) to celebrate American Pharmacists Month by hosting an immunization clinic at Stockton City Hall. This initiative was one of the many events organized during Legislative Week where student pharmacists promoted the profession of pharmacy to local lawmakers.proclamation

At this event student pharmacists advocated and communicated with members of City Hall including Mayor Anthony Silva and Councilmember Moses Zapien where they discussed pharmacy and its impact on the Stockton community. The coordinator of the event, April Nguyen ’16, APhA-ASP Vice President of Legislative Affairs, continued the initiative by collecting patient testimonials regarding the pharmacists’ role in the healthcare team and why legislation regarding pharmacy is important. She emphasized that “we are excited as future pharmacists to continue to serve the community in Stockton through our annual, free flu clinic to celebrate the first Legislative Week at Pacific! We are honored to receive a City Proclamation, issued by the Office of the Mayor, recognizing October as American Pharmacists’ Month and look forward to working with our community as student pharmacists.” During the event, 21 members of the Mayor’s staff were immunized against the flu and learned more about immunizations, vaccine preventable diseases, pharmacy and the role of pharmacists as health care providers.

 

Student Pharmacists Give Back with Canned Goods and Holiday Cards

In the spirit of the holiday season, student pharmacists dedicated their time to help the homeless by collecting canned food and hand-writing Christmas cards. During the week of November 17 to 21, card stock was made available in the Chan Family Health Sciences Learning Center and Clinics and boxes were placed around campus for canned food donations. The students are part of an organization known as the Gleason project which volunteers at the Gospel Center Rescue Mission and Gleason House Medical Center. In the past, the Gleason Project has presented educational materials on health topics such as smoking, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and diabetes. They’ve also hosted a health fair.Gleason House Holiday Card resized

Despite their busy schedules and upcoming finals, the students wanted to give back to the community. Heidi Chung ’17, event organizer, said, “As students, it’s easy to get lost in the frenzy of studying for finals and distance ourselves from the Stockton community. By hosting an outreach event for a local shelter, we hoped to provide an opportunity for students to take a break from studying and make a difference in the community.”

Opportunities to give back do not end with this effort. You can join the students in making a difference by volunteering your time at the center or making a donation. They are always in need of support.

The Gospel Center Rescue Mission aims to provide recovery programs, shelter and other resources to homeless individuals and families in Stockton. The Gleason House Medical Center provides health services to people in the programs, as well as homeless individuals in Stockton. Learn more by visiting http://www.gcrms.org/.

 

Parkinson’s Wellness Camp Benefits Community Members

wii fitDuring the Parkinson’s Wellness Camp participants rotated through different sessions including a Wii Fit station. The Wii challenged the patients’ balance. A home exercise station helped educate patients about what they can do at home to help improve their condition. The camp was an opportunity to go beyond the classroom and help improve the lives of those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. The course was taught by Dr. Preeti Oza, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy. Dr. Oza joined the Pacific Family in August 2013 and has been involved with the Stockton-San Joaquin Parkinson’s Disease Support Group ever since.

Under Dr. Oza’s supervision, the Parkinson’s Disease Wellness Camp was organized and led by Jared Descoteaux ’15, Renee Fini ’15, Allen Herinckx ’15, Kelly Perryman ’15 and Michael Whipple ’15 providing services to six individuals who were recruited through the support group.

Each student contributed to making the event a success. Fini gathered information about local organizations and resources for patients. “I found many resources from the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) and the Parkinson’s Foundation websites that encouraged movement-based activities,” she said. “It is very beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s to have an active lifestyle.” The severity of Parkinson’s can range from mild to advanced and can progress differently in different people. The patients at the camp were no different and had different levels of functional independence and cognitive awareness.one leg test

Perryman shared the most important lesson she learned. “Being able to make last-minute decisions to adapt and accommodate the patients’ individual needs was a learning experience,” she said. Fini added “It’s important to realize that even though individuals are diagnosed with the same stage of the disease, they do not always present the same symptoms. We need to treat each individual as their own person with their own challenges.”

Experiential learning is a key component of the Pacific experience and helps foster student professional development. “The Parkinson’s Wellness camp allows our students to interact, examine and evaluate mobility issues of individuals with neurologic disorders,” Dr. Oza said. “In addition to taking ownership of the event, the students get to experience the intricacies and details required to arrange such an event.”

The camp was instrumental in helping students develop leadership and critical and creative thinking skills. “From this experience, I feel more confident about my ability to adapt to changes when things don’t go as planned,” Whipple said. Last summer the students also assisted Dr. Oza with the Balance Clinic. “I have noticed their professionalism and caring attitudes towards the clients,” she said. “These students make us – the Physical Therapy faculty – proud and I am confident they will represent University of the Pacific well.”

 

Student Pharmacists Kick Off American Pharmacists Month with Health Fair

Midtown Health Fair_resizedThe Pacific American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) kicked off American Pharmacists Month with a health fair at Midtown Farmers Market in Sacramento. Student pharmacists from University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences collaborated with students from California Northstate University College of Pharmacy to host the event which served over 120 patients and provided over 90 influenza vaccinations. Overall, the health fair reached approximately 500 people in the community.

In addition to providing screenings and vaccinations, the students promoted the profession of pharmacy by initiating the new patient testimonial program which surveyed patients’ perspectives on whether or not pharmacists served as a integral players on the health care team. The survey produced many positive results. One patient stated, “The only time I ever interact (with a pharmacist) is when I pick up my meds. Now that I’ve been able to talk to some, they are very educated, lovely, helpful people.” The students hope to continue this program to further promote the profession and use the information to improve their services.Midtown Health Fair - educational_resized

Event coordinator and current Vice President of Legislative Affairs, April Nguyen ’16, encouraged other students to implement projects they are passionate about, stating “I am excited to pursue my passion for pharmacy with our first APhA-ASP health fair in collaboration with two schools of pharmacy! I am proud to be a part of this profession, where every pharmacist can make a difference in the community with our dedication to improving patient care.” Overall, it was a very successful and educational health fair, and the students are excited to channel this momentum to host future events. Pacific APhA-ASP also held the Legislative Week at Pacific which included speaker events and immunizing the mayor and legislative members.

 

Rho Pi Phi Brothers Make an Impact in Honduras

Imagine a completely isolated place where crime levels are at an all-time high, where clean running water and basic utilities are a luxury to a select few, where the nearest medical clinic is located a day away by foot. This is the type of territory that few of us would voluntarily set foot in, especially if we were asked to do so during summer vacation. But this kind of place was exactly where several of our own student pharmacists journeyed to this past summer. While the rest of us were lazing around and enjoying our summer vacations, six brothers (Sam Abid ’16, Amanda Chan ’16, Lawrence Chang ’16, George Do ’16, Tina Kwan ’16, and Vickie Nguyen ’16) of the Rho Pi Phi professional pharmaceutical fraternity journeyed to Santa Cruz, Honduras for an annual Global Brigades mission trip. During the week of August 6-13, these six student pharmacists, along with 36 other volunteers, traveled to a remote, rural Honduras community in order to provide basic services to the residents there.

Honduras_group_resizedThe overall purpose of Global Brigades, the organization that facilitated the trip, is to holistically improve a rural community by providing them with support in all aspects, such as medical (dental, pharmaceutical, and gynecological services), architectural, and financial. Basic utilities such as easy access to clean drinking water were also arranged. Santa Cruz, the Honduras community that the volunteers were stationed at, had only a single clinic that was located a day’s walk away. Global Brigades is the community’s only source of healthcare, but the residents only receive a visit from them every three to six months so the services that the students provided to them were greatly needed and appreciated. Abid said that it was an eye opener to see “how much we take things for granted when there are people around the world who don’t have access to basic necessities such as healthcare or water. These people were in desperate need of help and were so grateful that we were trying to help them.”

But even before heading out to Honduras, the road leading up to the trip itself was one that was paved full of obstacles. The initial preparation stage posed its own set of challenges—plenty of fundraising had to be done in order to raise the necessary funds for the trip. Many of the medical supplies that were brought to Honduras were contributions from generous donors, but anything that could not be obtained through donations had to be purchased. Since Rho Pi Phi was not able to hold enough fundraisers to raise the funds needed, a lot of the money that was used to buy the supplies had to come out of the students’ own pockets. This financial burden made it difficult for the students to get everything that they needed for the trip. “That was one of my biggest regrets for the trip,” Kwan said. “We saw how little the residents of Honduras had so I wish we were able to bring more supplies to them, especially since we ran out of a lot of the medications.”

Fast-forward to the date of Wednesday, August 6, 2014—the week of the trip had finally arrived. After spending the first day settling in and getting to know the other volunteers, the students were then immediately thrust into a busy second day of preparing medication for the rest of the week. Supplies were organized, pills were counted, and medicines were sorted into individual packages. As student pharmacists, the knowledge and skills that were gained during their time in pharmacy school greatly helped them in their situation. According to Chan, her familiarity with drug names and functions was able to help her “quickly identify where the drugs are located and what the drugs were used for.” She said that the work she did was also a learning experience in itself since “the medications were in Spanish, so some of the medications varied from the ones we saw here in the states.”Honduras_creek_resized

The next three days of the trip were medical clinic days that allowed student volunteers to directly interact with the patients. Clinic days included triage, where patients would see a board of students and translators and tell them about any symptoms or ailments they had before they were referred to either a doctor or dentist. Students also asked the patients a series of questions (height, weight, blood pressure, family medical history, etc.) in order to obtain and record general background information. Children’s charla—where volunteers taught children the importance of maintaining oral hygiene by providing free toothbrushes and toothpaste and by teaching them a song to more easily help them remember how to brush, as well as adult charla, where patients were taught basic hygiene habits, were also a part of clinic days. Numerous patients walked for miles and lined up for hours just for these medical services and Chang said that when he found out that “in just three days of clinic, we managed to serve 1,046 patients with just 42 students, it was actually quite humbling to know that a small group like us could make such a great impact on a huge community.”

Having accessible, clean water on a daily basis is one thing that none of us had ever had to worry about before. However, to the people of Honduras, this is a luxury that few could afford. Due to the natural rough terrain of Honduras and its lack of paved roads, approximately 40 percent of Hondurans live without having access to clean drinking water. This is why the fifth and last day of service was dedicated to Water Brigades. During this day, the volunteers traveled to a different rural community to help build a water filtration system for the residents there. The lack of clean water throughout the year meant that the community residents had to resort to drinking from unsafe or infested water sources—patients that came in during the clinic days had to be prescribed precautionary parasite medicine in order to combat this. Nguyen said that when she learned that people had to walk for 30 minutes just to reach water and that they had to carry the large jugs home, “it broke my heart because these people had so little and they had to work so hard for something that I sometimes took for granted.” She said that this experience made her “really appreciate the simple things in life” and realized that “as a future pharmacist, I will have the ability to help so many people, not only in my immediate community, but all over the world as well.”

Like most others, Abid said that he originally went on this trip in order to travel somewhere and to try something new, but when he saw how kind and grateful the people acted toward the volunteers for their services, it helped “reaffirm that I chose the right field of study and that the patients should always be the first in my mind.” He recounted that one of his most memorable experiences during the trip was one that occurred when the student volunteers were playing with the children in the orphanage during one of the non-clinic days. According to Abid, one of the volunteers had a camera and was taking pictures of the children to give to them as a gift. After a little boy had his picture taken, he immediately gave the picture to Abid, calling him, “mi amigo” or ‘my friend’ in Spanish. When Abid asked him if he wanted to keep it, the boy replied in Spanish, “I want you to keep it to remember me.” Abid said that “this small act of kindness really stood out to me and showed me that even from someone who doesn’t have much, they are willing to give something away to a complete stranger.”

Kwan agreed with her fellow volunteers when she described the entire trip as a “truly humbling experience.” During the course of the trip, she had the opportunity to look inside the house of one of the community’s residents. Kwan described the house as “a bare, extremely small place with dirt floor and a sheet-metal roof blackened from poor air circulation” and that the “single bedroom where six people were living together only contained two small twin beds.” Kwan felt as though it was a whole other world out there. “People there were living on nothing,” she said. “For a whole week after I came back, it was hard for me to adjust back because it felt like I was living in excess. It made me realize just how much we had compared to them and I wondered what I did to deserve such a luxurious life.”

We often hear people say that we take things for granted, but we don’t come to the actual realization until we are able to witness it firsthand and see the jarring contrast for ourselves. “Seeing the area where some people live and how little they had made me a lot more appreciative of what I had,” Do said. “It really gave me perspective of how much we have and how little they have,” Chan said. “When I am a pharmacist, I want to volunteer myself to missions like these and provide medical care to the under-served. I want to be able to use my knowledge and passion for pharmacy to help those in need.”

Rho Pi Phi participates in the Honduras Global Brigades trip annually. If you wish to partake in an eye-opening experience that will change your worldviews, consider volunteering next year. Or, if you wish, you can choose to start out small with things like donations to fund this trip. It might not seem like much now, but it’s important to remember that it’s the little things we do that help make the biggest difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Pharmacists Host Carnival for Elementary Students

The Children’s Awareness Carnival began in 1991 with the American Heart Association “Jump Rope for Heart” program and has been held annually on campus for a number of years. On Thursday, May 1st, the Children’s Awareness Committee (CAC) invited 212 fifth grade students from Title I schools in the Stockton and Lodi Unified School Districts onto the pharmacy and health sciences (PHS) campus for an all-day event filled with engaging educational activities.

CAC 2 resizedThe morning portion consisted of indoor activities. The students split up into seven groups which rotated through seven stations, some of which included sheep heart dissections with the American Heart Association, smoking cessation and lung awareness with the American Lung Association, and an exercise and breakdancing activity organized by Kappa Psi. At the conclusion of the morning rotations, the students were then free to explore the carnival which was outdoors on the PHS lawn. With luau-inspired decorations, music, fire drill demonstrations, face painting, and much more, the kids had plenty of activities to learn about health-related topics, engage with their friends as well as with the volunteers, and win numerous prizes to take home. Although the students did not want to leave, the event ended around 1:45 p.m. and the buses headed home by 2 p.m.

Students engage in a stretching exercise.
Students engage in a stretching exercise.

The tradition of the Children’s Awareness Carnival continues annually because of the immense opportunity it gives to the students in the local community. The CAC is sometimes the first and possibly the only field trip that these students will experience, which is why the Committee strives to conduct such a large and all-inclusive event. With 28 participating student committees and organizations, we were able to encourage 140 student volunteers, not only from the pharmacy program but also from the dental hygiene and the speech-language pathology programs to participate. The Children’s Awareness Committee strives to make the carnival better each year, and we could not have done it without the support of the faculty, students, and especially our advisor, Dr. Denis Meerdink. The committee would also like to thank Rite Aid for their generous support. When asked about her favorite part of the Carnival, second year CAC co-chair, Jina Choi ’15, shared, “It’s so rewarding to see everything we’ve been working on all year finally come together and to see the kids absolutely love it.”

 

Tiger Dash for Cash – Sponsoring the CSM

And they’re off! The 8th annual Tiger Dash, hosted by the Department of Physical Therapy (DPT) class of 2014, was a booming success with over 250 Pacific students, staff, and faculty joining together for a day of fitness and health recognition. With the greatest turn out so far, the 2013 Tiger Dash was a fun filled frenzy of activities. Featured at the Tiger Dash were several events such as a 5K run for adults around the Stockton campus as well as a half mile Cub Run for children, a health fair to promote physical fitness which featured booths hosted by local health related organizations and clinics, and a raffle with tons of great prizes. Proceeds for the Tiger Dash went to support the DPT class of 2014’s travel to Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), an annual meeting of professional and student physical therapists. Some of the proceeds also went to the local Stockton YMCA to promote health and well being in the community.

The 5k and half mile Cub Run were the main events of the Tiger Dash. With double the number of runners this year, the class had a lot on their hands. Chelsea Keys ’14, current DPT student and event coordinator said, “The worst part had to be the anticipation for the event and making sure everything came together for race day, but this was outweighed by the best part of the event which was the amazing turn out from the community and all the help from the students to put everything together.” A long time tradition here at Pacific, the Tiger Dash not only sponsors the entire class’ trip to the CSM, but it also helps to promote a healthy lifestyle within the Stockton community. Keys explained, “It’s a great opportunity for the students to work together and to get the community thinking about health and fitness. It was also a great way to give back to an organization like the YMCA.”

DPT students presents check to Mike Vann of YMCA.
DPT students present check to Mike Vann of YMCA.

So how exactly did the Stockton YMCA benefit from the Tiger Dash? Mike Vann, the YMCA program director was very pleased to announce that the YMCA received over $700 from the event. This money will go towards scholarships for families who are unable to pay for programming, like low income families who just can’t afford to put their kids in child care, sports teams, and the like. These families can simply fill out a scholarship application form to participate in YMCA activities. Vann explained the importance of these types of programs, “Children learn at a very early age to develop habits like reading books regularly, being physically active, doing hands-on things, experiencing the outdoors and learning life skills.” One of these life skills is swimming, which is particularly important in San Joaquin County as it has one of the highest drowning rates in California. Vann continued, “Life skills are essential in development. We don’t want to turn anyone away especially if it’s because they don’t have money.” Applying for a scholarship is a very easy task which yields an immeasurable benefit to the community.

When it comes to health and fitness, running is one way to support our active bodies. Running is great for the heart as well as the rest of the body. Exercise is critical in maintaining the health of our bodies and minds. Not only that, but exercising regularly helps reduce stress, and will perpetuate a long and healthy life. Keys gave some advice on improving health in the Stockton community, “We can improve health by starting with education—teaching people about the benefits of exercise and taking care of your body. By holding events like the Tiger Dash, we can bring the community together while promoting the value of a healthy lifestyle.”

The goal of the DPT class was to fundraise enough money to attend the American Physical Therapists Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting which is a phenomenal opportunity for these young professionals. CSM allows them to connect with students and professionals that are passionate about physical therapy. The DPT class will also be able to learn about new and innovative therapy techniques, as well as hear about the latest equipment and research in the constantly evolving profession. And did the PT Tigers reach their goal? Absolutely. The Tiger Dash enabled the class of 2014 to attend the CSM with no costs for flights or hotel rooms. Keys exclaimed, “We are very thankful for the donations we received and we are all very happy about the turn out for the event!”

 

Grant Builds Bridge Between Physical Therapists at Pacific and in Malawi

malawi with kids resized
Elisa Carey ‘14, and Kristen Damazio ‘14 with Malawian children

A unique aspect about programs at Pacific, specifically the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, is that students have access to experiential learning opportunities that help shape practice-ready professionals. Student physical therapists are building their skills by applying them in international settings, providing physical therapy to patients and assisting in training Malawi community volunteers in providing proper care.

In December, Dr. Casey Nesbit, Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education, along with Carolyn Coghlan ‘14Elisa Carey ‘14, and Kristen Damazio ‘14 traveled to Malawi where they were able to participate in service learning, teaching and research. The trip was partially supported by the Rupley-Church for International Relations Grant.

As part of the service learning component, the students participated in an elective course taught by Dr. Nesbit which helped them plan and prepare for the trip. In Malawi, the students spent the majority of their time at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in a palliative care ward caring for patients who suffered from a physical disability.

“I’m so thankful to Dr. Nesbit for welcoming us into her Malawi family, for her commitment to St. Gabriel’s and her efforts to improving the quality of care in Malawi. When I reflect on my Pacific experience, I know that I made the right choice. I love that Pacific values international and local relationships and partnerships, and I love that they are hiring professors, like Dr. Nesbit, who can tangibly bring that mission statement to life,” said Coghlan.

Carolyn Coghlan ‘14, Elisa Carey ‘14, Kristen Damazio ‘14, and Dr. Casey Nesbit with Malawi community workers

St. Gabriel’s is home to 300 community health workers who dedicate their spare time to the community assisting patients who need additional care at home or those who live in rural areas. Due to the lack of physical therapists and home care resources in Malawi the workers are the only resource for these patients. As part of a new program, Dr. Nesbit and the students coordinated a three day training session for 20 community health workers. The training consisted of lectures, practical teaching and application during a home visit. Participants were provided with a manual of 22 newly learned skills such as range of motion, how to properly roll someone in bed and how to use a cane. Once the skills were taught, the workers were tested on how well they learned each skill. Dr. Nesbit and the students also shadowed the volunteers on home visits to see how well each skill was applied in a real life setting.

“Our hope was to teach skills that were devised for carryover. I saw the effectiveness of our service through the knowledge assessment, the skills competencies and the observation,” said Dr. Nesbit. “I believe our students made a big impact in that they created a huge bridge between Pacific and Malawi. Hospital staff and patients were impressed because once the students returned home they kept asking where the students went,” she added.

The manual that was distributed during the training received high praise from the director of the National Palliative Care Association of Malawi and, as a result, will be be distributed as part of the national guideline for their respective training. Dr. Nesbit will be continuing this collaboration with St. Gabriel’s to graduate 20 individuals from her training each year.The students were also grateful for this unique opportunity. Coghlan explains “When I witnessed the enthusiasm that the community health workers had in learning basic physical therapy techniques and the excitement they had while applying this new knowledge in their community, I realized it’s these moments that make me proud to be a physical therapist and honored to share my knowledge.”

In addition to the training, Dr. Nesbit taught two courses to two classes at the University of Malawi in the School of Physiology. Each class was made up of 40 students and these students represented the first ever student physical therapists in Malawi. She also conducted research focused on physical therapy ethics in a global context.

When asked about the personal impact of this trip Carey replied “The biggest personal impact was working with a people that experienced so many daily hardships yet exuded joy like no one I have ever met. They were an amazingly welcoming community, always excited to share their culture, all the while eager to learn from us too.”

Dr. Nesbit has a long standing relationship with St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Malawi which allowed for a smooth transition. For the past eight years she has been spending two months out of the year practicing physical therapy there.

Learn How the Pacific Family Health Fair Benefits Both Adults and Children

The Pacific Family Health Fair is hosted by a student organization at Pacific known as the Vietnamese Cancer Awareness Research and Education Society (VNCARES). This year marks the seventh year that the health fair has been offered to Stockton community members. Health fair attendees can take advantage of free health screenings such as blood pressure screening, blood glucose screening, dental screening, hearing screening and more.

Rho Pi Phi Continues to Foster Health Education with 2nd Annual Living Hope Health Fair

The Saturday morning of June 15th was a productive morning spent serving the Stockton community. For the second year Rho Pi Phi Professional Pharmacy Fraternity collaborated with the Bread of Life Program and the Medicare Part D program, under the leadership of Dr. Rajul Patel ‘01, ‘06, to host the 2nd Annual Living Hope Health Fair, held at LifeSong Church in Stockton.

Blood glucose screening was one of many services provided at the health fair.
Blood glucose screening was one of many services provided at the health fair.

The Bread of Life Program is a local non-profit organization that provides free groceries, toiletries and other resources to local families in need. Held alongside this program, student pharmacists, student optometrists, student dental hygienists and other local organizations came together and participated in a health fair to provide free health education, resources, and screenings to the under-served population.

The health fair was extremely successful, with a turnout of nearly 350 patients. Of this, the students provided 77 free blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol screenings, 42 bone mineral density screenings, 12 memory decline screenings, five anemia screenings and 15 asthma screenings. This health fair also featured free eye exams from student optometrists, medication therapy management, and free skin screenings. Major health interventions were made that day, and patients were able to leave with free goodie bags full of resources.

Rho Pi Phi would like to thank all the committees, organizations and fraternities for their participation. In addition, they would especially like to thank preceptors for their continued support.

 

Rho Pi Phi Hosts Annual Drug Take Back Day

Student pharmacist helps participant sort his medication disposal.
Student pharmacist helps participant sort his medication disposal.

On April 27, 2013, National Drug Take Back Day Initiative was observed throughout the San Joaquin County. The Pacific Rho Pi Phi Pharmacy Fraternity has been participating in this initiative for many years promoting and supporting the event hosted by the National Drug Enforcement Agency. The primary purpose is to raise awareness of proper drug disposal and put that into practice by providing a safe drug and needle disposal site in various regions in the county.

Elisa Moberly of San Joaquin Public Works organizes the Drug Take Back Initiative twice yearly. She believes the initiative is not only vital in promotion of proper disposal but also informs that, “While the Drug Enforcement Agency events primarily protect the public from the unintended use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, they also protect the environment. Medicines flushed into the sewer system contaminate our water and mutate marine life. Throwing them in the trash has the potential of harming groundwater.”

University of the Pacific’s Public Safety Department was one of the many locations around the county that offered the service. Others included police departments and public schools. Twelve Pacific students, consisting of pre-pharmacy students and first and second year pharmacy brothers of Rho Pi Phi, participated at five different sites and served more than 400 participants. Recently, San Joaquin County Public Works also added the collection of medical “sharps” (e.g., hypodermic needles) into the initiative.

According to California state law, it is illegal to dispose of sharps in normal trash that end up in the landfill due to potential health risks. A total of 515 pounds was collected to be properly disposed. “It’s ridiculous how I can have this many needles collected over the years that needed to be thrown away,” commented a participant. The sharp object collection was possible through the Household Hazardous Waste program, which is a state-wide program through CalRecycle. This program allows residents to bring their sharps directly to the facility anytime throughout the year.

drugtakebackday
Law enforcement officials and students coordinate efforts to properly dispose of sharps.

The brothers of Rho Pi Phi assisted in the collection of medication at the several sites and also educated and promoted the proper disposal of medications and sharps. As future health care professionals, we play an integral role in keeping the community aware of the proper method of medication and sharp disposal. Along with the initiative, work is being done, both at the local and federal level, to provide better options for medication disposal. With this in mind, Moberly believes funding allocated for expired/unused medication collection at local pharmacies would be ideal. Until this is possible, Drug Take Back Initiative planners hope to continue to serve the community and raise awareness of proper drug disposal over the years.