PCOM Georgia students, employees and family members received COVID-19 vaccines at two campus vaccination events.
Thanks to the combined efforts of PCOM School of Pharmacy alumnus Kaleb Zhang, PharmD ’20, Pam Marquess, PharmD, co-owner of Bethelview Pharmacy, and Kim Lucier, PCOM Georgia administrative services and events manager, more than 200 students, faculty and staff at PCOM Georgia, as well as their family members, have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to Zhang, he was working as the pharmacist-in-charge at Bethelview Pharmacy, an independent drug store in Cumming, Georgia, when he connected with Lucier, who had been his work-study manager in the Office of the Chief Campus Officer when he was a Doctor of Pharmacy student just a few months before. He offered to contact Lucier when COVID vaccines were available. Lucier in turn would send a communication about availability to PCOM Georgia students, faculty and staff.
He explained that at first, PCOM community members would come to the pharmacy to be vaccinated. Soon after, along with Marquess, he helped to arrange two vaccination clinics on campus. Marquess, the pharmacy owner, had been hosting vaccine events across metro Atlanta with the help of PCOM Georgia student volunteers.
The Rapid Response Team, a group of administrators at PCOM’s three campuses who are overseeing the college’s response to the pandemic, approved the events as part of the President’s Community Wellness Initiative. The initiative’s mission is to “create educational and health services programming and resources that support and sustain the physical, mental, nutritional and environmental wellness of the college’s surrounding communities.”
According to Lucier, the first vaccination day, led by Marquess, was held on Saturday, April 17 where 91 PCOM Georgia employees and students were vaccinated. The second vaccine event, led by Zhang, was held on Saturday, May 8, and attended by 90 individuals. All 32 first year physician assistant students, who counted the event as a learning experience, volunteered to vaccinate. Three faculty members were present to oversee both events, along with two Gwinnett County emergency medical technicians.
Lucier said, “It takes a tremendous amount of planning, effort and institutional resources to successfully execute an event of this magnitude. I am very thankful for the PCOM community who came together to make these vaccine events happen demonstrating teamwork at its finest. I am proud to work alongside these dedicated individuals.”
Zhang said, “I felt like it was my duty as an alumnus of PCOM Georgia to help provide this service to the fine establishment that educated and shaped me into the healthcare professional I am today.”
He noted that pharmacists, like other healthcare professionals, have been on the front lines of the COVID pandemic since it began.
“Pharmacists continued to go to work daily during the pandemic as prescriptions still needed to be filled regardless of the risk,” he said. Once COVID-19 vaccines were approved through Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, pharmacies became one of the main vaccine providers, he added.
Today, Zhang is working as the lead pharmacist for Jackson Pharmacy Professionals at the Delta Flight Museum in Hapeville, Georgia, overseeing 3,000 vaccines administered daily. And PCOM Georgia students continue to use their vaccination skills as they volunteer to serve across Atlanta.
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.
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