Editor's Note

Author: Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS, Pharmacy Times Editor-in-Chief

As pharmacists, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the changes impacting our profession. How will the MMA [Medicare Modernization Act] affect our role as pharmacists? Will PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers] with their mandatory mail order take too much business from community pharmacy? Will Medicare reform change the prescription reimbursement formula to the disadvantage of community pharmacy? I could go on describing our problems.

Yet, these concerns pale in contrast with the impact Hurricane Katrina has had on people's lives. One of Pharmacy Times' pharmacist authors shared the following account with us a few days after Katrina hit. It puts a whole new perspective on the problems you and I face as pharmacists.

I have been doing a lot of crying. All of my husband's and my family and friends have lost everything. People have to somehow find the strength to rebuild their lives. Both of our parents' homes have water up to the roof. Our siblings (4 of mine and 1 of my husband's) have lost their homes. My youngest brother, his wife, and my 5-year-old nephew were not accounted for for several days, but they are safe. The Coast Guard rescued my 76-year-old aunt and my cousin from their roof one evening. They had been there since 3 AM.

The New Orleans that we knew is gone and will not be the same for a very long time. It is devastating for everyone on the Gulf Coast. The eye of the hurricane went right over our home in Slidell, La, that we sold just this past February. We are still not sure if everyone is okay, since the phone lines are down. Several of my pharmacist friends were stuck in hospitals without power for days. In some cases, the generators had even failed. One of my best friends, who is a physician, lost generator power in her hospital on Monday night, and patients were dying. She has been able to text message info to her family. Please keep everyone in your prayers. At a time like this, I have seen all of my family and friends in the health care profession endure horrific circumstances and prove just how dedicated they are to the health care profession.

Although we have heard heart-wrenching stories such as this, we also have heard about heroes in the face of tragedy?people who have reached out in positive ways. Pharmacy Times encourages you to demonstrate your concern in the way that you feel is appropriate (see box). The mark of a great country is how people respond to tragedy. Many in pharmacy have reached out to show that we care, we are involved, and we are making a difference. I am proud to be an American and a pharmacist as I observe our response.

For more information or to donate:

American Red Cross
800-HELP NOW (435-7669) English, 800-257-7575 Spanish
www.redcross.org

America's Second Harvest
800-344-8070
www.secondharvest.org

Helping Hands Fund (an outreach of the National Pharmacy Technicians Association)
888-247-8700
www.pharmacytechnician.org

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD)
www.nvoad.org

Salvation Army
800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
www.salvationarmyusa.org

Mr. Eckel is professor and director of the Office of Practice Development and Education at the School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.