Pharmacy School Holds Medicare Health Fair

L-R: AJ Cole ’20, Vivian Lau ’19, Ravneet Buttar ’20.               PC: Zach Withrow

For the sixth time this year, Pacific students spent the weekend lowering seniors’ drug costs, checking the safety of their drug regimens, and offering various other health screenings.

On Saturday, October 28, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences held a Medicare Health Fair at the O’Connor Woods Retirement Community in Stockton. From 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., nearly 100 Pharmacy School students volunteered their time to help community members optimize their Medicare Part D drug plans. The student volunteers were supervised by around 25 licensed pharmacists.

Professor Rajul Patel of the Department of Pharmacy Practice oversees the program, which is now in its eleventh year of assisting Medicare beneficiaries and has saved participants an estimated $5.7 million in that span. 

“There are close to 30 different plans in this county that individuals who have Medicare can get their prescription drug coverage through, and every plan has a different formulary and different cost structure,” Dr. Patel said.

Dr. Patel explained that Pacific’s student volunteers, along with about a dozen volunteers from the University of San Francisco’s Nurse Practitioner Program, worked to minimize seniors’ drug costs by identifying the cheapest plan for each individual.

“The second core service that we provide is a systematic review of all [an individual’s] medications to make sure they are safe and effective to take together,” Dr. Patel said. “If we identify any severe medication-related issues, with their permission, we will contact their prescriber and make a recommendation for resolution.”

In addition, participants were able to undergo a variety of different health screenings, including checks on cholesterol, immunizations, bone density, diabetes, and blood pressure.

Cindy Tran ‘19 was glad to have participated in Saturday’s fair, the fifth for which she has volunteered.

“It’s just a really good experience to practice pharmacist skills and patient interaction,” Tran said. “I think today I saved someone $4,000 by switching their Medicare Part D Insurance Plan.”

Elaine Bui ‘19 concurred; she said her favorite part of the Health Fair is working with the patients.

“A lot of them have interesting stories to tell, and they also have a lot of life experience,” Bui said. “We enjoy helping them with their medication plans, or lowering their drug costs, or whatever we can help with.”

With six Medicare Health Fair events in the books so far this year, hundreds of people across California have been provided important services without any charge. Volunteers are scheduled to work seven more events in 2017, with one occurring today, November 2, in Lodi.

Members of the Thomas J. Long Pharmacy School continue to make Pacific proud with these invaluable acts of community outreach.

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Zach Withrow

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