by Jennifer Yam, P4 Student
On October 13th, 2012, we participated in “Immunity in the Community,” an outreach event hosted by Brooklyn Hospital Center. My fellow Touro students David Yoo and Henry Le along with Dr. Berrios-Colon from Touro volunteered at this event on an early Saturday morning. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Community Health Profile 2nd edition, the percentage of Bushwick and Williamsburg individuals residing below the poverty line surpassed that of Brooklyn and NYC as a whole. Access to healthcare in this area is lacking as a staggering 1 in 3 individuals have no means of access to a primary care physician. The primary objective of this event was to help narrow the health disparity gap by establishing free health screenings and vaccinations to the underinsured and underserved community of Bushwick.
Free blood pressure screenings and influenza vaccinations (provided by Brooklyn Hospital) were made accessible to the public at the New Jerusalem United Methodist Church in Brooklyn. Medication appropriateness and compliance was assessed if blood pressure readings were not at goal. We counseled individuals on the importance of maintaining medication compliance supplemented with therapeutic lifestyle changes for additional blood pressure reduction.
Since access to care is especially lacking in this community, prevention through immunization was emphasized as the best medicine. We screened for contraindications to the inactivated influenza vaccine prior to administration and counseled on possible side effects to watch for. Dr. Berrios-Colon vaccinated forty members of the Bushwick community during this event. More than half of the vaccinated reported being “first timers.” These patients never received an influenza vaccine during their entire life.
“Immunity in the Community” was a very memorable experience for us. Implementing the knowledge and clinical skill sets we acquired during our ambulatory care rotation to help the underserved community left us with an immense feeling of gratification. The positive responses we received reinforced the very reason for selecting pharmacy as a lifelong career as many expressed their sincere appreciation for our efforts. Every little bit counts to make a difference in our community!