Wegmans School of Pharmacy Hosts Health Fair for Refugees
Faculty and students from the Wegmans School of Pharmacy held a refugee health fair earlier this month, attracting patients from Rochester’s refugee community. The fair was held at the St. Mary’s Refugee Outreach Center.
Two P4 students, Meghan Kukla and Alexandria Johnson, led the efforts and organized the fair as part of their APPE rotation assignments. They are both completing a service-learning rotation with Dr. Christine Birnie, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center and Mercy Community Services, two free or low cost clinics in the inner city servicing the uninsured. According to Birnie, the focus of the rotation is caring for underserved populations.
Refugee patients from Nepal/Bhutan, Burma, Thailand, and Somalia came to the health fair where there was a team of seven pharmacy students, three faculty members, two physicians from Strong Memorial Hospital, nurses, and a dentist. Most of the medical team members outside of the School of Pharmacy were from Koinonia Fellowship’s India Medical Missions Ministry, the group the School of Pharmacy partners with for its mission trip to India each January. To help promote the fair, the team partnered with The Father’s Heart, a mobile soup kitchen which provides groceries, a hot meal, clothing, and toiletries, for people throughout Rochester.
Patients were screened for hypertension and diabetes screening and had the opportunity to ask the doctors questions. They also received toothbrushes and toothpaste along with some dental education, as well as personal items including toiletries and gently used clothing. Additionally, patients were screened for reading glasses and got free glasses if they needed them.
“It was really an amazing outreach. It was truly like an overseas mission trip, right here in our backyard,” said Birnie.
The teams also collected demographic and clinical data at the fair which will be presented at the Refugee Healthcare Conference in Rochester later this month. The students are taking the lead on the poster presentation, which will be entitled, “Developing Cultural Awareness: Pharmacy Student Outreach to Refugee Patients Through Community Health Fairs.”
Kukla said that for her, the opportunity to work with different groups of people who she would not normally work with was extremely eye opening.
“It's easy to forget that Rochester serves as a new home for thousands of refugees that are forced to start over. Every person I met was beyond grateful and excited that we were there to help. Every pharmacy student should become involved in health fairs in order to become exposed to every group and ethnicity. This can only improve our abilities as health care professionals,” she said.