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From the President

Superstorm Sandy Brings Out MVPs in Hospitals Across Northeast

Jan 17, 2013

Kathryn Schultz, Pharm.D., FASHP

AS WE BEGIN A NEW YEAR, I always like to look back at the year that was and focus on moments of success. In my inaugural address, I urged all ASHP members to become Most Valuable Pharmacists (MVPs) within their institutions. And I’ve been privileged to hear from many ASHP members over the last six months about the exciting things they are doing to improve the care of their patients.

In particular, I want to draw your attention to the many MVPs and pharmacy heroes who stepped up before, during, and after the recent devastation of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast. As you’ll see in our feature story, “Pharmacists Take on Superstorm Sandy,” pharmacy MVPs were everywhere during this unprecedented event.

Even as their own homes and families were being affected, ASHP members in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut courageously and selflessly took on new duties, helping to evacuate patients, setting up pharmacies in temporary quarters, and managing the medication therapy regimens of patients—often without access to patient records or traditional medication supply chains.

At New York University’s Langone Medical Center, N.Y., for example, Arash Dabestani, Pharm.D., MHA, FASHP, senior director of pharmacy, had to dive into emergency prep in a new environment (he had just been at the hospital a week when the storm hit).

Dabestani managed to arrange hotel rooms for pharmacy staff to ensure full coverage, but on the night of Oct. 29, water flooded the hospital’s basement and Langone lost power. Even the back-up generators failed, forcing staff to evacuate more than 300 patients to nearby hospitals. Without power, pharmacy team members had to climb up to 15 flights of stairs just to deliver medications.

It’s been a tough few months for pharmacists and hospital staff throughout the New York-New Jersey region. Extensive overtime has been common as the hospitals and clinics try to clean up and get back to a more-normal operating mode. Pharmacists everywhere have had to put on their game faces and exhibit real flexibility and courage in the wake of this terrible storm.

As you read their stories, I’m sure you’ll be amazed, as I was, at the innovation and dedication of our pharmacy colleagues. They’ve come so far since that fateful late October storm. These heroes continue to prove just how critical pharmacists are to the health of our patients and to the entire health-system enterprise. They are true MVPs.

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