Pharmacy Faculty Member and Student Travel to India on Medical Mission
In early January, a faculty member and student from the Wegmans School of Pharmacy traveled to Pune, India, on the School’s fifth medical mission.
Dr. Christine Birnie, Associate Professor and Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences, along with her clinical rotation student, Matthew Moruzzi, led the charge and hosted a free five-day medical camp, offering a women’s health education program and a health and hygiene program at an orphanage, as well as conducting a lecture at a local pharmacy school. The pair was part of a six-member team of health professionals and lay members from the Rochester community. The medical camp was held in conjunction with the Koinonia Medical Clinic, a year-round primary care medical clinic that opened in 2010 in collaboration with Birnie and other members of the Rochester community. The clinic is staffed by a national physician, providing follow-up care to patients after the team returns to the United States.
The medical camp was held under a tent in the outskirts of Pune City, and provided free medical and dental care to anyone in need. The medical team, which saw over 1,500 patients, provided blood pressure and diabetes screenings, basic health checks from a physician, dental screenings and cleanings, pharmacy service (including vitamins and prescribed medicine), and reading glasses screenings. All services and supplies were provided to patients free of cost. In addition to the Koinonia Medical Clinic staff physician, two other national physicians participated in the camp.
While one of the primary focuses of the trip is to provide medical care to underserved patients in need, the project also serves as a clinical rotation for the School of Pharmacy’s fourth-year pharmacy students. Moruzzi, who was active in dispensing medication and counseling patients in the pharmacy, also organized the blood pressure and diabetes screening stations. Not only did he screen patients, but he was also instrumental in training the interpreters on the use of the equipment. As part of his rotation assignments, Moruzzi also developed culturally relevant teaching tools to be used at these stations, informing patients of lifestyle modifications that would help lower blood pressure and blood glucose if a patient’s evaluation was found to be high.
In addition, Birnie and Moruzzi conducted a small research project, evaluating the incidence and awareness of hypertension in the local patients. The team was able to include over 800 patients in the study, and their work is being compiled for a presentation at an upcoming professional pharmacy meeting next year.
The second week of the mission project was devoted to education-focused activities. The group conducted a three-hour women’s health program, attended by 66 women from the local community. Both educated and illiterate women attended the program, which included basic women’s health, nutrition, and women’s social issues. Women were provided a health package in appreciation of their attendance.
The team also visited a local orphanage on a separate day, providing general health and disease prevention education and spending time with the children.
One of the last activities of the mission project included visiting a local pharmacy school, where Moruzzi was able to conduct a lecture to final year pharmacy students. His lecture, “Pharmacy Education in the United States,” was well received by the Indian students, many of whom were interested in evaluating whether additional schooling in the United States may be an option to consider.
The trip was conducted in partnership with Koinonia Fellowship Church in East Rochester and other members of the Rochester community. The Wegmans School of Pharmacy participates in several mission projects each year, providing care to underserved patients internationally while providing culturally diverse experiential opportunities to pharmacy students.