Medical community reaches out to refugees in Houston

ABC news

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HOUSTON (KTRK) — A group of people from across the world received medical help on Saturday in southwest Houston. They came in need of basic health care, and what they were shown, they say, was so much more than they expected.

These families are receiving normal health screenings, but they are not normal patients.

“They’re from all over the world. We have people here from Burma, from Nepal, from Congo, from Eritrea, from Iraq, and many other countries,” health fair organizer David Savage said.

They are here in the Houston area as refugees, and health professionals and students — people like Savage — have helped arrange their care.

“The goal is to find people who might have health problems that have not been noticed before and to get them plugged into the health care system,” Savage said.

“I appreciate all this stuff because they are good and they help us with what to do. I like them, I appreciate what they are doing,” said Fissaha Nerie, a refugee from Eritrea.

Nerie is thankful he could bring his family for the kind of health care he would never have had access to in his home country.

“They have more materials and I’ve never seen like this before,” he said.

The screenings cover basic mental and physical health, and nutrition. They’re done by volunteers with a special desire to reach out to this unique population of new Houstonians.

“We have medical students here today, we have dental students here today, as well as pharmacy students, so it’s been a great collaboration to serve our community,” health fair organizer Erika Wood said.

Iraqi refugee Thaer Albanee couldn’t agree more.

“I think it’s great that they’re able to help us refugees coming from all over the world. They check our health and they make sure we’re all right, and they check me and my daughter and everybody else’s health,” Albanee said through a translator.

The services were provided through a partnership of medical students at UTHealth, University of Houston College of Pharmacy and Alliance for Multicultural Community Services.

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August 27, 2013-Houston

Student and faculty volunteers from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy (UHCOP) received national recognition this summer for their work to expand essential health care services for Houston’s homeless population.

HOMES Clinic studentsBestowed by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the Student Community Engaged Service Award is in recognition of the team’s ongoing activities through the Houston Outreach Medicine, Education and Social Services (HOMES) Clinic. An interprofessional, student-run clinic in downtown Houston, the clinic operates under the auspices of the nonprofit Healthcare for the Homeless-Houston (HHH), which was founded by Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) physician David Buck.

The HOMES Clinic is a collaboration of UHCOP, BCM, the UH Graduate College of Social Work and the Schools of Medicine and Public Health at UTHealth. The clinic has served more than 3,000 patients since it was launched in 2000.

The clinic is open every Sunday to ensure access to needed services on a day when most other health care providers are closed. This also reduces the use of hospital emergency rooms for non-life-threatening conditions.

Pharmacy faculty member David Wallace, student project leader Kim Anh Pham and pharmacy dean F. Lamar Pritchard recently received the award and grant monies totaling $16,000 at the AACP Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“I’m elated that the HOMES Clinic team is being acknowledged for serving the homeless community for more than a decade,” said Pham, who also was appointed as the clinic’s first executive director from the UH College of Pharmacy. “Being a part of the HOMES Clinic has not only helped me in deciding what I want to do in my pharmacy career, but it also gave me insight to the needs of the homeless population. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how homelessness could happen to any of us as a result of life-changing events or circumstances that are often beyond a person’s control.”

Pham said the grant monies primarily will be used to restock and expand the on-site pharmacy’s supply of common medications, including inhalers for asthma and other lung conditions, antibiotics, vaccines and psychiatric drugs.

HOMES Clinic students with professorServing in a supervisory role over pharmacy students, Wallace has been a fixture at HOMES almost every Sunday since the clinic opened.

“It’s very rewarding to see the students grow not only in their technical and clinical knowledge and skills, but also in their empathy and awareness of the complex medical, mental health and social needs within this patient population,” Wallace said.

Pritchard said the HOMES Clinic is a prime example of the impact of interprofessional teams in providing basic health services to the underserved through collaborative education and practice models.

“One of the most critical health care challenges we face nationwide is poor medication adherence, with an estimated total annual cost upward of $300 billion due to increased hospitalizations and other factors,” Pritchard said. “The HOMES Clinic and safety net providers such as HHH play a vital role in providing basic health care when few other options are available, preventing potentially serious complications resulting from interruptions in drug therapies.”

Recognizing student-led community engagement projects, the four national awards given each year are intended to encourage student pharmacists and faculty to design and build programs of community-engaged service learning, delivering consumer education about medication use, expanding access to affordable medications and improving public health. In addition to the UHCOP, the other recipients were Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the University of Hawaii at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy.

For more information on the AACP Student Community Engaged Service Award, visit For more information on the HOMES Clinic, visit


About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation’s fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 40,700 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country. For more information about UH, visit the university’s newsroom.

About the UH College of Pharmacy
For more than 65 years, the University of Houston College of Pharmacy (UHCOP) has shaped aspiring pharmacists, scientists and researchers. The college offers graduate degrees in pharmacy administration, pharmacology and pharmaceutics, a professional pharmacy degree, combined professional/graduate degrees, and post-graduate residency and fellowship programs. With facilities on the UH campus and in the Texas Medical Center, the UHCO is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.




APRx & AmerisourceBergen Give $50,000 to UH Pharmacy

APRx & AmerisourceBergen Give $50,000 to UH Pharmacy

American Pharmacies and partner wholesaler AmeriSourceBergen have donated $50,000 to the University of Houston College of Pharmacy in support of the school’s strong commitment to retail workplace skills and preparing pharmacy entrepreneurs.

A ceremonial check for $50,000 was presented last week to UH Pharmacy Dean Lamar Pritchard by APRx Board member Alton Kanak of Katy and Alan Wilson, AmerisourceBergen’s vice president of buying groups.

Pritchard said the $50,000 donation will be used to support the cost of the school’s planned new Pharmacy Care Laboratory, a state-of-the art training facility for retail pharmacists. The PCL will feature a simulated community pharmacy that allows students to realistically practice workplace functions such as workflow management, counseling, inventory control, personnel management, disease state management and more.

“We have a special emphasis on entrepreneurship and preparing our students to create successful pharmacy care models for the future,” Dean Pritchard said. “We are extremely proud of our students’ interest in becoming business owners.”

Kanak, a UH pharmacy graduate, said APRx recognizes the need to support the future viability of independent pharmacy by showing students that there are great career options in retail pharmacy outside chain stores.

“To keep independent pharmacy alive, we must start with the students,” Kanak said. “Independent pharmacy allows for maximum innovation in your practice. You decide how you want to run your pharmacy.”

A plaque recognizing the generosity of APRx and AmerisourceBergen will be placed in the new student lab when it is completed, Pritchard said.

American Pharmacies is proud to support the UH Pharmacy College’s strong focus on teaching practical workplace skills and its commitment to encouraging entrepreneurial careers in independent pharmacy.

credit: American Pharmacies July issue

(L-R) APRx Board member Alton Kanak of Katy; Alan Wilson, AmerisourceBergen’s VP of buying groups; and University of Houston Pharmacy Dean Lamar Pritchard



University of Houston College of Pharmacy Interactions Publication


Interactions Vol 9


College News

Faculty News

  • Pritchard Serves on Adherence Think-tank
  • Tucker, VA Team Nutrition Support Award
  • College Welcomes New, Returning Faculty
  • Marwaha, Tejada-Simon Receive UH Honors

Research News

  • AHRQ Funds Aparasu’s Anticholinerfic Study
  • Tikunova’s DCM Project Gets NIH Support
  • APhA Award for New Faculty Member

Student News

  • Community Outreach Spans Houston Area
  • Ambulatory Care Projects at HOPE Clinic
  • First AMCP Student Chapter in Texas at UH

Alumni News


  • Recent Graduates Earn Research Awards
  • Alumni Mailbox
  • Cougars Lead Pharmacy Organizations

Giving News

  • New Memorial Scholarship Endowments
  • College Welcomes Development Director
  • Pharm.D. Students Among Tier One Scholars


Teen Prescription Drug Abuse Tied to Other Risky Behaviors

Research presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society in New Orleans, LA, shows that teenagers who abuse prescription drugs are more likely to participate in other risky behaviors, such as abusing steroids and street drugs and even carrying weapons to school. Out of 4,178 high school students (ninth through 12th grade) surveyed, those who reported nonmedical use of prescription drugs at some point in their lives were 10 times more likely to have carried a weapon to class in the past 30 days. Teens who abused medications were also 17 times more likely to have abused steroids and 14 times more likely to have used heroin.

Researchers gave the students a modified version of the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is used by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor behaviors in youth and young adults that contribute to death and disability. MedPage Today reports that the study asked about lifetime, recent, and current use of drugs, which larger surveys often overlook. However, the survey also relied upon teens’ self-reporting and used a cross-sectional design, both of which rule out direct, causal relationships among the behaviors noted. The study, published as an abstract, is available in the Journal of Pain.

The AWARXE Consumer Protection Program is brought to you by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation.