Specialty Pharmacist of the Year
Kendra Curry, PharmD
Walgreens Infusion Services
The beliefs driving Kendra Curry’s practice are that pharmacy practice is more than dispensing the right medication to the right patient and that patients should have the right to receive high quality health care in their home if they desire it and if it is clinically appropriate.
Since beginning her career as a staff pharmacist at Option Care Inc, Dr. Curry worked to ensure that home infusion therapies meet pharmacy standards and patient needs. During her time at Option Care Inc, she formulated patient-specific care plans, monitored medication therapy, and prepared and dispensed medications.
After Walgreens’ acquisition of Option Care Inc and several promotions with Walgreens, Dr. Curry developed and led a specialty infusion pharmacy program for an injection only administered in a hospital or emergency department setting.
The therapy, ecallantide (Kalbitor), is indicated for swelling episodes associated with hereditary angioedema (HAE). The infusion program expands access to the drug, and followed advocacy by Dr. Curry and her pharmacy team and the drug manufacturer, Dyax Corp. The efforts involved included developing policies and procedures to ensure appropriate and legal use of the therapy, managing relationships with the manufacturer and other related entities, and working with payers to obtain coverage for home care therapy.
As a result, Walgreens earned an exclusive contract as home infusion provider of the therapy. At present, 200 patients within the United States are receiving Kalbitor home therapy.
“By taking the lead to develop the Walgreens Infusion Services Kalbitor program, Dr. Curry opened the door for specialty infusion pharmacists and their patient care teams to provide care to patients in a brand new setting,” her nomination read. “No longer do HAE patients need to receive their Kalbitor injection in the emergency department.”
The team also worked to provide nursing network support and training, created systems for recording patient outcomes and data, and managed patient outreach and support.
Dr. Curry continues to oversee all aspects of the Kalbitor program, including compliance training, management of treatment outcomes, data reporting, and ensuring positive patient outcomes.
“Throughout her career, Dr. Curry has been recognized as an advocate for fully utilizing the medication expertise of pharmacists to benefit patients and their care teams,” her nomination noted.
Samuel Grossman, BSPharm, PharmD, CDE
Diabetes Care On-the-Go
As a 22-year diabetes educator, Samuel Grossman’s specialty is helping patients with diabetes.
Dr. Grossman, who has experience as a pharmacist in both inpatient and outpatient settings, was among the first pharmacists to initiate a diabetes care program in a New York area community pharmacy.
He later became president and senior diabetes educator at the Diabetes Care On-the-Go-Inc, a diabetes care center located in Canarsie Plaza Pharmacy in Brooklyn, New York. The program received American Association of Diabetes Educators Certification in 2009, and provides experiences in ambulatory diabetes care for pharmacists and pharmacy students.
Dr. Grossman represents the pharmacist within the Garden State Association of Diabetes Educators Association, where he advocates for an increase in pharmacist participation and recognition as diabetes educators. Dr. Grossman has taken leadership roles in the association as well, having served as president. The National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators appointed him as a mentor to health care professionals to guide students in the hospital and community setting.
As a patient associated care team pharmacist and diabetes educator at the New York Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Dr. Grossman works with patients who are admitted to the hospital and those in the ambulatory primary care department to help them manage their disease.
Dr. Grossman also volunteers at long-term care facilities, helping patients there learn about their condition.
Within New Jersey, Dr. Grossman has been appointed to the Chronic Disease Advisory Board to represent the pharmacy profession to the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and to improve policies supporting patients with diabetes. He is also on the board of directors of the American Diabetes Association New Jersey community, and serves as advocacy chair for the American Diabetes Association state organization.
Dr. Grossman has testified before the New Jersey State legislature and participated in diabetes advocacy efforts in Washington, DC. He serves as an adjunct associate professor at Hunter Bellevue School of Nursing of the City University of New York, and is a clinical assistant professor at Arnold and Marie College of Pharmacy of Long Island University.
Sterling Koonce, BSPharm
Medicine Mart LTC
Tabor City, NC
Sterling Koonce is improving medication administration in long-term care pharmacy through technology, research, and collaboration with colleagues and associations.
A third-generation pharmacist, Koonce had experience in hospital pharmacy and chain community pharmacy before working in his father’s community pharmacy, Koonce Drug Company. Koonce later purchased his father’s business, and opened a second pharmacy Medicine Mart LTC, for long-term care facilities.
His specialty within the long-term care business involves offering medications based on time of dose rather than blister packaging, which in turn help pharmacy and patient processes, are user-friendly, and are easy to learn.
After documenting facility practices, Koonce determined that medications were not always administered accurately. He implemented an electronic medication administration record and strip medication packaging to remedy the problems. In several cases, his innovation saved facilities in danger of being shut down by improving work flow and decreasing medication errors.
“Sterling (Koonce) is always pushing the envelope with technology to find the next thing that will help productivity and safety,” his nomination read. “Sterling’s offerings have made a significant change in the facilities he services. . . Sterling documented medication error rates in 30 group homes and found that after he implemented his services, the error percentage dropped to 10% of what it was before.”
He is currently focusing on offering similar solutions to the independent living market to improve medication administration for senior citizens in an independent living setting.
Koonce is also partnering with the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to study his adherence programs, with the goal of determining how particular medication adherence programs affect the health care system, improve patient health, and reduce hospital visits. The research, he hopes, will help pharmacies receive reimbursement for their services.
Koonce’s involvement extends to many areas of long-term care operations to facilitate care improvements. Facility consultants assist with home conversions for patients returning to that setting, as well as allowing them to address operations throughout the long-term care facility. His use of partnerships and access to long-term care associations keeps him up-to-date on care improvements and innovations, and he actively collaborates with colleagues in the pharmacy industry.