The Pharmacist as Hero

Author: Mike Hennessy

With the recent passing of Hurricane Irene along the East Coast, we hope that you, your families, and your communities are safe. Many people have been affected by this recent event, and we want you to know that our readers are in our thoughts as you work to recover and rebuild. As this natural disaster unfolded, countless cities and towns were without power, travel was curtailed nationwide, lives were impacted, and the damages are just now being assessed.

We have said many times that the pharmacist is “the face of the community”— and during an event such as this hurricane, these health care professionals clearly become even more visible and important on a local level. Disaster planning includes preparations for keeping necessary medications safe and fully supplied for all patients, especially those who are at most risk.

Pharmacists were there before and after the storm to help patients with their needs in any way they could accommodate them in addition to staying in close touch with local authorities and keeping their pharmacies open wherever possible. This speaks to the importance of local control of communities, where those key citizens who exhibit a sense of independence and responsibility exercise good sense in a time of need.

With Hurricane Irene in full swing and traveling up the coast, it is especially gratifying to note that our Next-Generation PharmacistTM Awards gala dinner went on as planned—with most of the pharmacists being honored in attendance. Their travel stories are ones for the books, including 17 hours of driving, flight cancellations and delays, and no train service from Washington to Boston, where this event was held. The Pharmacy Times team, along with our partners Parata Systems, honored guests, and valued sponsors, gathered at the stunning JFK Presidential Library and Museum to learn about the individual accomplishments, innovations, and personal stories of the 34 finalists who are heroes in their communities. I encourage you to take a close look at the pharmacists who were honored that evening (see http://phrmcyt.ms/n7A4eo) and learn how much they have accomplished to make a difference in their communities.

The top honor—the 2011 Next-Generation Pharmacist—was selected from the pharmacist category winners. Army Major Jeffrey Neigh, PharmD, BCPS, was announced as we celebrated the heroes that are pharmacists. The military pharmacists who serve this country and their branch of service are true heroes, and we are especially pleased to honor them. Go to page 76 for a look at the event and to page 12 for a complete list of the Next-Generation Pharmacist category winners.

We hear that members of Congress have a lower approval rating than oil companies, somewhere in the teens, and the executive branch doesn’t do much better. Is it the lack of leadership or a lack of confidence in getting things done right that drives this public discontent? There is a role that government must play—such as relief during a natural disaster—but it seems to me that the local authorities and citizens play the greatest role in solving problems as they arise. The pharmacists in each community— often the most active community leaders in a town—come with a keen sense of responsibility that shows itself in real action during a crisis, commitment to the people they serve, and entrepreneurship. Join me in saluting all of these heroes!