I was asked to write a blog for the Dean’s newsletter about our Mobile Medicare Clinics and was thankful for the opportunity. However, shortly after accepting the offer, I realized that there were several different directions in which I could go and so I decided to share a little about our program but spend more time sharing with you who the true stars of our program are…the volunteer pharmacists.
Our Mobile Medicare Clinics have grown since we first began in 2007. That first year we served 72 Medicare beneficiaries and our student pharmacists helped them minimize their out-of-pocket costs through Part D plan optimization. Clinic turnout has steadily increased over the last seven years and to date we have been able to save 2,911 beneficiaries an estimated $2.23 million on their prescription drug costs.
Since the inception of our clinics we have expanded service offerings at each clinic site to include Medication Therapy Management (MTM), immunizations, bone density testing, cholesterol and diabetes testing, blood pressure measurement, anemia screening, asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) testing, depression and anxiety screening, falls risk assessment, memory decline screening, help with pharmaceutical assistance programs, and much more. To date, we have provided over 15,000 such services to clinic attendees at no cost. None of this would be possible without our students or the truly unsung heroes of our program – the volunteer pharmacists who supervise students in the provision of these services.
This fall, we have 13 clinic sites in seven different cities across Northern/Central California including our first ever events in San Francisco and Oakland. We expect to serve over 1,400 seniors and community members, many from underserved and underrepresented populations including low-income, racial/ethnic minorities, non-English speaking and those with permanent disabilities. As our program has expanded and word has spread, the interest of others has also been piqued.
I have received e-mails and calls from faculty at several schools of pharmacy across the country who want to find out what we do and how we do it. Time and again they are very excited until they ask the question “How is it that you provide so many services?” Inevitably, when I share with them the number of pharmacists that commit, give so much to our program, and allow students to provide necessary services to our community, you can hear the machinations (some of which they articulate) on the other end. “How do you get so many pharmacists to supervise your students?” And as many answers as I think I may have, that is the one question which always stumps me. I am not sure, but when I do reflect I am astonished at how many pharmacists give so much to the Medicare program and our students.
To give you an idea, between our 13 Mobile Medicare Clinics this year we will have 115 different pharmacists (total number of pharmacists = 267) that will be precepting our students while they provide the aforementioned services. These pharmacists come on their days off and precept events that range from five to eight hours in duration. They travel on their own dime from Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and all across the state to lend their expertise and serve as mentors to our students. Aside from donating so much time, many make other significant contributions to the program be it paying for our wireless devices, lunch for 100+ students/volunteers at an event, food for seniors and other clinic attendees, pounding the pavement to help spread the word of what we do, and on and on.
I am humbled and want to thank all the pharmacists who have ever precepted a Mobile Medicare Clinic of ours. None of the recognition that our program has received means as much to me as what all of you have so selflessly given. I am truly humbled by your contribution to the program and feel indebted to you in so many ways. Mother Teresa once said that “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are true endless.” To all the volunteer pharmacists I hope this letter resonates with you in the same way. Thank you.
If you want more information about the program including videos, program statistics, our fun newsletters and so much more please go to our webpage at go.pacific.edu/medicare or feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rajul A. Patel ’01, ’06, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Department of Pharmacy Practice