Pictured from l-r: Harris Oberlander, Trinity Alliance; Ellen Sax, MVP Health Care; Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan; ACPHS President Toyin Tofade; Wendy Parker, The Collaboratory; and Sabrina Howard, The Collaboratory.
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan today welcomed Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Collaboratory into its new home at 200 South Pearl Street during an event for the community.
At the open house, ACPHS President and Professor, Toyin Tofade was joined by MVP Health Care Vice President of Community Engagement, Ellen Sax, to announce new grant funding of $75,000 over three years from MVP Health Care’s Corporate Giving Program to support The Collaboratory’s mission.
“With this new grant from ardent supporter, MVP Health Care, we are pleased to continue our mission of serving the South End community with critical preventive health screenings, medication counseling and public health services,” said ACPHS President and Professor, Toyin Tofade MS, PharmD, BCPS, CPCC, FFIP. “We are so appreciative of this partnership, as well as the ongoing support from both Mayor Sheehan and County Executive McCoy, who recognize The Collaboratory as a vital resource to the community.”
The funding will specifically target providing preventive health screenings and medication counseling and expanding services to more residents focused on chronic disease and medication management, such as: reviewing and adjusting residents’ prescription doses, organizing and simplifying residents’ medication regimens, and offering nutritional education. In addition, it will help the Collaboratory connect residents to primary care doctors, insurance, food, transportation and other community resources.
“The Collaboratory is a monumental step forward towards creating equitable choice and convenience for Albany residents to have their health care needs met,” said MVP Health Care’s President and CEO, Chris Del Vecchio. “At MVP Health Care, we know that timely access to clinical and pharmaceutical services are crucial to getting and staying healthy. This partnership is another example of the many ways we are committed to our mission of building the healthiest communities. We are so proud to support ACPHS and the Collaboratory and know that our investment will truly improve the health and well-being of Albany residents.”
Formerly the public health practice site was located in two other Albany Housing Authority locations since its inception in 2018. The new home provides more space for services and is located within Albany Housing Authority headquarters, a convenient location for area residents.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “I am excited that the Albany College of Pharmacy has opened the Collaboratory at the Albany Housing Authority’s headquarters at 200 South Pearl. The pandemic shone a bright light on the importance of providing convenient and trusted healthcare access and resources in our most historically underserved communities, and this is a prime example of the College’s commitment to meeting that need. ACPHS was a tremendous partner in the effort to vaccinate our residents and I look forward to continuing our partnership through this effort and others in the years to come.”
Food as Medicine in the South End
Collaboratory Manager, Sabrina Howard, also announced a new collaboration with several partners to support the Food as Medicine program. The service brings weekly fresh fruit and produce to the community, as well as shelf-stable items to reduce food insecurity, in conjunction with their long-standing contract with New York State Department of Health to deliver a hypertension program to residents to attempt to reduce their risk for further cardiovascular disease.
“For the past several years our Public Health Pharmacy team has operated a hypertension program helping more than 200 individuals in our community improve his/her knowledge of cardiovascular disease, engage in weekly conversations with our pharmacy technician, track their blood pressure, and most recently we have had our Food as Medicine program for these clients. Many of our home-bound clients depend on our food deliveries and weekly conversations with our amazing pharmacy team to remain in their homes and independent as long as possible,” said Collaboratory Executive Director, Wendy Parker.
The Collaboratory provides access to clinical and pharmacy services. While not replacing primary care, the one-stop shop approach allows community members to get the support they need and avoid the emergency room. The Collaboratory team coordinates and provides an expanded range of services addressing medication management and health literacy, as well as serving as an expert consultant with the Wellness Advocates Linking Communities (WALC) team through Trinity Alliance. Together, the partners provide community and professional education and work with other public health programs to address system-level improvements pertaining to pharmacy, health care, and to improve individual and community health. In addition, they help community members find a primary care physician, connect to insurance and increase their access to food, transportation and other resources.
“Our community health workers are of, by, and for the community” said Sara Adams, program director at Trinity Alliance. “When you pair together social care experts with clinical experts, a holistic model of care begins to form.”
Since WALC’s inception, Community Health Workers have worked with over 1,250 different community residents to address barriers to preventive healthcare access. The integration of social care with public health pharmacy services allows the teams to address any concerns someone may have about medications and/or chronic illnesses in real time.
Educating the Next Generation
Cassandra Todd, ACPHS Public Health Student, performs an A1C screening on ACPHS Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Anuja Ghorpade
The site also offers ACPHS public health students invaluable experience working with the community. The students can extend what they are learning in the classroom to effectively support the South End community. The Collaboratory also offers an opportunity for pharmacy and other health sciences students to engage in the real-world experiences of community-based public health.
Cassandra Todd, a public health student has been working at the site for nearly a full year. According to Parker, Todd has worked diligently over the past year to put into practice her public health training and interest in the laboratory sciences to aid the community by completing laboratory testing on site at the Collaboratory and during home visits.
Daniel P. McCoy, Albany County Executive
“From health insurance navigation and medication literacy to food assistance and housing services, this new Collaboratory in the South End will truly move the needle on health equity and social justice. COVID taught us the importance of proactive and preventative medicine, especially in our underserved neighborhoods, however we cannot lose focus now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “I want to thank MVP Health Care for the generous grant funding that helped make this possible, as well as the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for their continued commitment to improving health outcomes in our community.”
About Albany College of Pharmacy and Life Sciences
Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) is a private, independent college with a long tradition of academic and research excellence dedicated to educating the next generation of leaders to improve the health of society. ACPHS’ undergraduate programs include Biomedical Technology, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Microbiology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pre-Med, and Public Health. In addition to a Doctor of Pharmacy, ACPHS offers the only Masters of Biomanufacturing and Bioprocessing degree in the state, as well as graduate programs in Biomedical Sciences, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Cytotechnology and Molecular Cytology, and Pharmaceutical Sciences. ACPHS ranks #1 in New York and #2 in the U.S. for best return on investment according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. For more information, visit www.acphs.edu.