Little Did They Know Just How Critical Their Work Would Be

PittPharmacy’s Grace Lamsam Pharmacy Program for the Underserved: Ensuring Patient Access to Medication and Health Monitoring during COVID-19 Pandemic

In July 2019, a group of students –led by Drs. Sharon Connor, Lauren Jonkman ’06, Catherine Rebitch and pharmacy resident Jennifer Ko initiated a chronic disease monitoring program at the Birmingham Clinic on the South Side of Pittsburgh.  Fast forward a few short months to today as we find ourselves in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The Birmingham Clinic was READY to ensure patients both were able to receive their medications AND monitor their health.

PittPharmacy faculty, students and pharmacy residents are integral members of the care team at the Clinic which serves underserved patients in the Pittsburgh community. 

Here’s some insight into how the program works:

  • ALL patients are being assessed by phone by one of our pharmacy team members (students, residents, faculty) often with support of dedicated interpreters.  Process designed by Hannah Akerberg, PittPharmacy Class of 2020.
  • Patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma are provided self-monitoring devices including blood glucometers for those with diabetes, and home blood pressure monitors and cuffs for those with high blood pressure, peak flow meters for those with asthma. Coordinated by Jennifer Ko, PharmD, PGY2 Global Health Resident.
  • Patients with high blood pressure are enrolled in an mHealth Technology program called MyBP (designed by a cardiology team at UPMC’s Heart and Vascular Institute).  Patients can text their blood pressure readings 2x/week and get motivation and education about high blood pressure.  The readings also generate a fax to the clinic to respond.  Process designed by Mackeyan Martin, PittPharmacy Class of 2023.
  • The PittPharmacy Team then prepares medications, food boxes, and self-monitoring supplies to be provided to the patients. 
  • Supplies are then delivered by a committed group of PittMed student volunteers directly to the patient’s home. 

In this time of crisis, the entire team at the Birmingham Clinic has shown commitment and resilience to ensure continued access to essential health services to those in need.  PittPharmacy is proud to serve!