While I am very proud of everything I have done in Haiti, I am most proud of the education I've provided.
Before the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, I was working as a compounding pharmacist in Oregon and running flu shot clinics and medication therapy management sessions. Then the quake happened. I arrived in Haiti a month after the earthquake, as part of the second-wave of first responders. It was quickly apparent that there was a dire need for medical personnel to remain in Haiti long-term to provide a continuum of care. My two-week trip turned into 16 months.
In my first year in Haiti, I served as the chief pharmacy officer for the University of Miami Project Medishare. When cholera hit, I helped form the Combined Response Team – members of many smaller NGOs that came together to mount a rapid response to a disease that was spreading rapidly. We ran cholera clinics, trained local medical staff, and held countless community education classes to stop the spread of disease. It was not uncommon for me to get on a United Nations helicopter, to go staff a cholera treatment facility, or take a bus out to a rural church to teach disease prevention. While I am very proud of everything I have done in Haiti, I am most proud of the education I’ve provided. Even if I never go back, the knowledge that I have imparted will live on and continue to save lives.
Now, I’m a clinical faculty member at D’Youville and I’m still involved with relief efforts in Haiti. Over spring break, I took two introductory pharmacy practice (IPPE) students to Haiti. We worked at three different locations – a tuberculosis clinic in the University Hospital, a hospital run by an American relief organization, and a clinic run by a Haitian relief organization. The students got a taste of the many ways that healthcare is provided in third-world countries, and the many ways that pharmacists can make an impact on the care provided.
I am in the process of developing a month-long P4 rotation for two pharmacy students with a safety-net clinic in Port au Prince. I’m also involved with a community medical clinic that serves the refugee and immigrant population on Buffalo’s West Side called Jericho Road Family Practice. I am very excited to work with the providers there – they are very passionate about providing great patient care.
P.J. Pitts, PharmD, RPh
Assistant Clinical Professor
School of Pharmacy (Department of Pharmacy Practice)
D'Youville College School of Pharmacy
Image: Matthew Oldfield PhotographyTOP