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Monday, June 25, 2018

Academics & Research

Pharmacy school partners with community health center

The College of Pharmacy’s partnership is part of a larger community outreach effort by the University. | Isabel Pen/ The Cougar

Two University of Houston professors are aiming to help Hispanic patients overcome diabetes in the Greater Fifth Ward through a new partnership with Vecino Health Centers.

Clinical assistant professors Bernadette Asias-Dinh and Katherine Smith are leading a partnership with the Denver Harbor Clinic in the Fifth Ward, which is operated by Vecino Health Centers and provides services for uninsured patients. The collaboration will give pharmacy students indispensable real-world experience and improve patient outcomes for the high-risk, primarily Hispanic population the clinic treats.

“We need their help,” said Donald Briscoe, Chief Medical Officer for Vecino Health Centers. “It’s going to be a big asset to our system to have involved. It’s going to be very valuable in our community.”

To help prepare students for this demanding role as pharmacists in a primarily Hispanic area, the College of Pharmacy offers a Hispanic Healthcare Certificate Program. The program is the only one of its kind in the country, College of Pharmacy Dean F. Lamar Pritchard said.

Briscoe said that the language and culture barriers can cause confusion when patients are prescribed medications that are labeled in English. But, Briscoe said, if it’s not culturally appropriate, the patients may not be willing to do it.

With the majority of the clinic’s patients being primarily Spanish-speaking or Hispanic, Asias-Dinh, Smith and their students will have to overcome not only the barrier of language, but also a great cultural divide.

Through its locations in the Fifth Ward, Vecino Health Centers have provided care to those who lack insurance or access to medical care since starting operations in 2001. Vecino Health Centers CEO Daniel Montez said the collaboration adds value to the service for their patients.

By providing additional resources for Vecino patients, the College of Pharmacy is now allowing the University a chance to give back to the surrounding communities.

“For clinics like us, this is something that we probably wouldn’t have been able to do on our own,” Briscoe said.

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