by Elizabeth Panek, P4 Student

During the Hurricane Sandy disaster, the east coast was devastated and downtown New Yorkers were lost in the darkness. I believe that the unsung heroes of the Hurricane Sandy disaster were pharmacists and staff. During the entire week that Touro was closed and rotations were called off, I spent every single day working 9+ hours in the pharmacy to help displaced New Jersey and New York residents obtain their crucial medications necessary to maintain their chronic conditions. On Tuesday, October 30, the morning after the storm, the pharmacist and I traveled by foot to work to open the pharmacy. We were heralded by the many patients and doctors in the area as being the only pharmacy open on the entire Upper East Side and worked tirelessly as we obtained emergency supplies of medications and comforted those displaced by the storm. The following days I worked, I encountered patients displaced from all over; from the Jersey Shore and New York City alike. A particularly touching situation was when I comforted a Seaside Heights, NJ man in tears as he recounted his home in ruins literally floated away from him. I displayed empathy and worked with his mail order pharmacy to obtain his life-saving medications. The examples I have are countless. So many pharmacists I encountered endured 3+ hour commutes to ensure the pharmacies were open to serve displaced patients, while they themselves and their families were dealing with the stress of being displaced. By keeping the pharmacy open and helping those in dire need, pharmacists and staff were the unsung heroes in wake of the Hurricane Sandy disaster.

There are many needy organizations. Find the one that can best use your resources – time or money – and volunteer! Even a little bit makes a big difference.