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January 24, 2013

Pharmacy program assists local underserved senior citizens

The Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy continues to send students, faculty and staff to local Telacu senior housing communities to help underserved seniors choose between the many Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

Titled the Partners-in-D program, the community service originally began in 2007 with a three year grant by the Amgen Foundation. Through the outreach, the School of Pharmacy was able to guide hundreds of seniors through the complicated Medicare Part D drug prescription plans, at times saving seniors over $2,000 a year in drug costs.

According to Joycelyn Yamzon, Pharm.D., principal investigator for the Amgen Foundation grant since 2008, the School of Pharmacy had such a good relationship with the staff and seniors at the centers that Telacu administrators asked for the School to return even after the grant dollars ended.

“The experience provides great teachable moments for our pharmacy students by taking the school into the local community," Dr. Yamzon said. "More importantly, the outreach assists many seniors with important cost-saving Medicare Part D drug plans, and we are also able to provide valuable drug information to seniors who often have many questions. It actually never occurred to us that this community service would end. The Telacu Partners-in-D service will remain as a teaching activity for our pharmacy students and as a service to the underserved senior community."

Telacu lead social services coordinator Elizabeth Flores is emphatic with the value of the School of Pharmacy’s Partners-in-D community service for local seniors.

“Overall, the Partners-in-D workshops have been very beneficial to our residents for many reasons," Ms. Flores said. "Seniors get opportunities each year to meet with students and professors from the LLU School of Pharmacy to update this very important enrollment process. Seniors get their medications reviewed, explained, and other questions are answered. Also, many seniors get additional health information and are often referred back to their family practitioner on the advise of the pharmacists.

“Speaking on behalf of the seniors, they always state that without the help of the School of Pharmacy students and teachers they would be lost with the Medicare Part D enrollment process. Seniors also love the attention and the visits by the young students, and the Partners-in-D community service has become something we all look forward to every November,” said Ms. Flores.

This story was originally published on the Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy Web site, pharmacy.llu.edu.

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