“If I don’t do this, what happens to the patient?” Luis Rivera asked himself as he began to assist a 73-year-old man sitting in the waiting room of the College Parkside pharmacy.
Rivera, a fourth year Pharm.D. student, is currently completing his third rotation at the student- run pharmacy in Albany. Even after completing two previous rotations in Puerto Rico (where he's from), Rivera hadn’t experienced anything like the scenario that panned out on Sept. 9.
“I was here in the pharmacy, I was counting down some medications and verifying them, and I was hearing a patient outside waiting in the lobby shouting out pain noises,” Rivera said. “I was curious about the noise and if anyone was going there to help the patient.”
After walking to the register to see where the noise was coming from, Rivera saw a man in distress sitting in the waiting room, crying out in pain.
“I went and asked him if he needed help and other basic questions like, what do you feel? Can you talk? Can you breathe?”
The patient could not breathe or talk well, urging Rivera and a physician’s assistant in the pharmacy to get a nurse. Blood pressure cuff and oxygen in hand, a nurse came to aid the patient while Rivera was asked to call 911. It was something he had never done before.
“I was pretty nervous when the nurse told me to call 911. I have never called 911 so I was like, okay, what do I say? The address? Where I am? Who I am? Who’s the patient?” Rivera said.
Rivera’s quick action helped the patient get the care he needed, eventually being taken to Albany Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment.
“I have never experienced something like that,” he said. “I hear the codes in the hospital when I work there but I’ve never been able to see and experience it [an emergency].”
While he doesn’t usually face emergencies like this, Rivera says he’s now prepared for similar events that may occur in the pharmacy in the future.
“I wasn’t prepared but was prepared, you know?” he said. “This is my third rotation and I have four left so this will help me. I’ll have another mindset.”
On top of learning to take care of a patient under pressure, Rivera has also seen his other skills being used for good in the College Parkside pharmacy.
“Being here, I have the experience to help some Latino people,” he said. “I am an asset here at the pharmacy because the Latino population in this setting is huge.”
Providing counsel and knowledge to patients about their medications and how to use them, in English and Spanish, has proven valuable at the pharmacy and Rivera now has experience helping in a medical emergency, sure to prove valuable in the future.