Pharmacy school hosts health fair

The USC School of Pharmacy helped host a health fair Saturday in Alhambra to provide medical services to the community free of charge.

The school, along with the Rotary Club of Alhambra and the Alhambra Hospital Medical Center, held the fair at the Alhambra First Baptist Chuch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Several USC medical schools joined together to provide the resources.

“There was a lot of coordination that went into this. We set out to make this an interdisciplinary health fair, so we contacted all the various professional schools at USC,” said Co-Director Elect of the PharmSC Clinic Richard Dang, a graduate student studying pharmacy. “We have different schools coming out and coming together for one health fair so as to provide interdisciplinary services for the population.”

Pharmacy students, along with students in the physician assistant program at the Keck School of Medicine, gave hypertension screenings to check for high blood pressure, blood sugar tests and foot screenings to check for diabetes, scoliosis screenings, pulse oximetry screenings and free flu shots.

Students from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC gave oral cancer screenings and hosted a dental hygiene education booth. Students from the USC Occupational Sciences and Occupational Therapy program helped run other educational booths.

The Doheney Eye Institute gave eye exams for children in a mobile vision van, and the Alhambra Hospital Medical Center also screened patients to check for high cholesterol and risk of stroke.

Raymond Poon, a 1971 pharmacy graduate and adviser of PharmSC, said a health fair was held last year at the Alhambra YMCA in coordination with the School of Pharmacy but did not have as many different schools involved.

“This is the first time the School of Pharmacy is in collaboration with the School of Dentistry and the School of Physical Therapy. It makes our service spectrum a lot wider,” Poon said. “Before we only concentrated on diabetes, cholesterol, but now we can concentrate on physical therapy and other services.”

PharmSC Co-Director Elect Raymond Chao, a graduate student studying pharmacy, said that the collaboration reflects the larger goals in healthcare.

“As a whole, we’re trying to push the idea that we need a collaborative effort for the healthcare profession because healthcare isn’t just one provider; it’s a bunch of people coming together,” Chao said.

The current economic climate also makes having different health services available in one place convenient for the community.

“A lot of people are unemployed and probably lost their insurance and probably don’t realize how important preventive health and good health is to the family and to themselves,” Poon said.

Dang also said that “the fact that it’s more accessible and free is what helps draw out the community members.”

“We’ve always been doing this — as far as outreach in the community,” said Melissa Durham, a lecturer at the School of Pharmacy. “[But] with rising healthcare costs and the number of uninsured reaching record highs, we’ve seen a larger response from the community population who are seeing the value in these clinics.”

Durham said that service, in addition to instilling a sense of value, helps students practice communication skills as well as clinical skills.

“Our pharmacy students are at the forefront of community outreach out of all of our health professional schools,” she said. “In the fall semester, our students are out doing health fairs every other week in all different areas of Southern California. This is the first time we’ve been at this particular site having this one event because we’re always establishing new events everywhere.”

The event also included information booths regarding nutrition, osteoporosis, immunization, cancer, poison prevention, geriatric care, pain management, heartburn awareness and body fat.

“Health fairs are great opportunities to reach members of the community that don’t have access to routine healthcare,” Dang said. “It’s been a great experience just to be able to come out to the Alahambra community and help the community members.”

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