APhA Announces 2014 Immunization Champion Award Winners

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These awards highlight contributions to the immunization neighborhood by pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies.

WASHINGTON, DC – Recognizing the value and extraordinary contributions pharmacists provide to improving the vaccination rates of their communities, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2014 APhA Immunization Champion Awards. The awards will be presented during the APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando, March 28-31, 2014. The APhA awards and honors program is the most comprehensive recognition program in the profession of pharmacy.

There are six categories of recognition including individual practitioner, friend of pharmacy’s immunization efforts, corporation/institution, partnerships with other healthcare providers and public health, community outreach and pharmacy team member. Nominees were evaluated based on the areas of impact, collaboration, originality, overcoming challenges and opportunities created for pharmacists. These awards highlight contributions to the immunization neighborhood by pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies.

The 2014 APhA Immunization Champion Awards program is supported by Merck and Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics. More than 80 nomination packets describing innovative immunizing pharmacists and pharmacy personnel were received this year. APhA applauds all who are working towards improving the health of their communities.

The 2014 APhA Immunization Champion Award winners are as follows:

Individual Practitioner – National Winner
Eric Crumbaugh, PharmD - Arkansas Pharmacists Association

Over the last five years, Eric Crumbaugh has emerged as a leader in Arkansas for pharmacist-delivered immunizations. Crumbaugh was hired in February 2012 as the Arkansas Pharmacists Association’s immunization grant coordinator. The program’s goal was to achieve a 10% increase in the number of pharmacist-administered adult influenza, herpes zoster and pneumococcal vaccinations by August 2013. This goal was achieved through the leadership of Crumbaugh, working with insurers, the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy, the Arkansas state immunization registry and Arkansas pharmacists. He also was instrumental in establishing an interdisciplinary state immunization action coalition and working with Arkansas pharmacies in improving immunization rates of pharmacy staff members. He has assisted pharmacists in developing, implementing and delivering immunization services and has traveled statewide to educate pharmacists and student pharmacists. Crumbaugh has been involved in launching a successful media campaign throughout Arkansas, highlighting the role of pharmacists in delivering immunizations. In addition to developing program materials for pharmacists, Crumbaugh is an active contributor in the quest to increase vaccination rates in Arkansas and has personally administered thousands of vaccinations.

Julie Gambaiani, PharmD, BCACP - Genoa Pharmacy

Julie Gambaiani is the immunizing pharmacist for all Genoa Pharmacy locations in Minnesota’s Twin Cities metropolitan area. She is highly motivated and passionate about providing the best care to mental health patients and has worked with the mental health population for over five years. Gambaiani created a mobile medication therapy management position for Genoa that embraces Minnesota’s “10 by 10” campaign to improve life expectancy by 10 years in 10 years for patients with mental illness. This initiative aims to decrease premature mortality due to infectious disease; ensure that patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, receive the necessary vaccines; and integrate primary health into the community mental health setting, because mental health patients have the lowest utilization of preventive medicine and self-care. In fall 2013, she collaborated with 24 mental health agencies in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, ranging from drop-in mental health centers to group homes and formal clinic settings. Gambaiani traveled more than 600 miles to these clinics on the dates and times when participation would be maximized and she provided over 250 vaccinations at these clinics. She also helped other Genoa Healthcare sites in 27 states establish successful immunization practices to provide vaccinations to mental health patients across the United States. 

Individual Practitioner – Honorable Mention
LT Carlisha Gentles, PharmD, BCPS - Indian Health Service/Tsaile Health Center

In 2013, LT Carlisha Gentles established the first pharmacist-led zoster vaccination program at Tsaile Health Center in Arizona. By utilizing the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Model for Improvement (Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle), LT Gentles established a team of physicians, nurses and informaticists to work with her at each step of the process. She has tested and evaluated various approaches to streamline the care delivery process. LT Gentles presented her findings to the administration and the governing Pharmacy and Therapeutics body and received approval for zoster vaccine to be added and administered only by an immunization-trained pharmacist. By December 2013, LT Gentles and her fellow pharmacist, Terry Teller, had successfully vaccinated 150 patients. A year-end financial review indicated that her facility was successfully reimbursed for pharmacist immunization services in 2013 and is expected to administer approximately 400 zoster vaccines by July 2014.

Todd McWilliams, PharmD - CVS

Todd McWilliams is a practicing pharmacist in the rural community of Trenton, Tenn. He has partnered with the county school system to provide immunizations to the student population and works with the local coordinator to schedule on-site immunization clinics. These clinics included immunizations to prevent: hepatitis A and B, human papillomavirus, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, measles-mumps-rubella, varicella and influenza. He also offers pneumococcal and zoster vaccines for the teachers. His year-round partnership to provide on-site immunizations ensures that every student has the opportunity to receive vaccinations. This spring, he will provide meningococcal vaccine to graduating seniors during an on-site immunization clinic, allowing increased access for these students to be vaccinated prior to leaving for college. His partnership with these 11 schools has increased access for every student in Gibson County to receive immunizations they might not have received based on the limited number of primary care practitioners in the county. McWilliams’ dedication, coordination and countless hours of hard work have led to the administration of over 1,300 flu shots and more than 250 other vaccines in 2013.

George Veltri, BSPharm - Cannon Pharmacy

George Veltri is the vaccine coordinator for the six Cannon Pharmacy stores in North Carolina. He organized a shingles vaccine contest among these six pharmacies resulting in more than 500 seniors getting vaccinated within 30 days. He also has organized flu clinics at dozens of churches, schools and living centers.  Mr. Veltri has worked with the state of North Carolina to make Cannon Pharmacy a beta store for vaccines without prescriptions. Furthermore, he has conducted continuing education programs and trained pharmacists to use North Carolina’s central vaccine recording system. Within two years, Cannon Pharmacy increased from 1,000 flu shots annually to 5,000 flu shots annually. His outreach to local prescribers about Cannon Pharmacy’s vaccine services has had a major impact. Mr. Veltri has built trust with the physicians and increased the pharmacy staff confidence level.

Friend of Pharmacy
William Schaffner, MD - Vanderbilt University

Nationally renowned as an infectious disease medical expert, William Schaffner is a consummate ambassador for collaboration among immunization stakeholders. Dr. Schaffner has been a long-time supporter, advisor and advocate for pharmacists’ expanding role in immunizations and he has publicly gone on record in support of the profession’s efforts. Dr. Schaffner has ensured that pharmacy has been included in important policy discussions and has collaborated with APhA and the profession to build strong working relationships on behalf of patients and public health. He is a strong advocate of the immunization neighborhood and frequently articulates that “vaccines in the refrigerator have never prevented a single infection. When it comes to immunizations, just do it.” In one interview, he said, “Over the past decade, pharmacists have shown they are very important partners in providing influenza vaccinations to the population.” In recent blogs, Dr. Schaffner called for collaboration among physicians and pharmacists to increase vaccination rates. He is receiving this recognition as Friend of Pharmacy for his lifelong commitment to improving our nation’s public health and facilitating the development of an immunization neighborhood that includes the active participation of pharmacists.

Corporate/Institution – National Winner

On the leading edge of immunization practice, Safeway began offering immunization services in 2000 and was one of the first pharmacy chains to license the APhA Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery certificate training program and educate Safeway instructors to train pharmacists. Safeway was also the first national pharmacy chain to receive centralized billing status for Medicare Part B and the first to incorporate immunizations as a standard of practice in every pharmacy in the chain. They have continued to identify ways pharmacists can meet the public health needs of their communities. When Washington State closed its travel clinics in May 2013, Safeway remained as the sole provider of travel health services. Moreover, there was no existing provider of pediatric travel health services, and Spokane County reached out to Safeway. Safeway worked with the health department and college of pharmacy to design training for pharmacists to be able to administer travel vaccines to pediatric patients via the vastus lateralis. This opportunity to provide an unavailable service helped build relationships between Safeway and the public health department, and enhanced the standing of pharmacy in the community’s immunization neighborhood. Safeway continues to manifest its vision collaboratively and works to transform community pharmacy as well as the role of the community pharmacist, ensuring fulfillment of every patient’s immunization needs.

Corporate/InstitutionHonorable Mention
Osterhaus Pharmacy

In September 2013, the Iowa Pharmacy Practice Act was changed to allow pharmacists to provide all adult immunizations approved by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), as well as influenza vaccinations to patients aged six years and older through a collaborative practice protocol with a local physician. Osterhaus Pharmacy immediately contacted the area clinics, prepared a collaborative practice protocol and started educating and immunizing patients when the law went in to effect. Osterhaus Pharmacy is an independent pharmacy located in Maquoketa, Iowa. Because of the large rural area, residents have limited access to health care services. This limited access is reflected in the 2012 seasonal adolescent vaccination rates, which range from 14% to 39% for the counties the pharmacy serves. These vaccination rates are some of the lowest in the state and highlight the need for public health intervention. To fill this public health need, Osterhaus Pharmacy teamed up with the two physician clinics in Maquoketa to coordinate vaccine histories, identify patients who need immunizations, vaccinate patients, educate patients on the importance of being up to date with vaccinations, and update patients’ documentation of vaccine history. This collaboration has increased excitement around the project and has made communication between providers easier. The health care community has embraced Osterhaus pharmacists as immunizers and often refers patients for the pharmacy’s immunization services, especially for herpes zoster immunizations.

Partnership – National Winner
White County, Arkansas, Local Health Unit

Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) nurses have been providing flu vaccine in White County public schools since the governor’s directive in 2009. Healthworks, a local health promotion program, joined the White County local health unit (LHU) to support public school flu campaigns. During a six week period in fall 2012, Harding University College of Pharmacy (HUCOP) pharmacists and student pharmacists worked alongside Healthworks and ADH nurses to provide over 4,800 doses of flu vaccine at public school and community mass flu clinics in White County. In 2013, ADH worked collaboratively with the White County LHU to provide over 5,750 doses of flu vaccine through the same venues. The working partnership between HUCOP and the White County LHU in 2013 allowed pharmacists and fourth-year student pharmacists to provide staffing support for public school flu clinics. This unique collaboration highlights the benefits of various members of the immunization neighborhood working together to achieve the specific goal of increasing flu vaccination rates. Future collaborative plans between HUCOP and the White County LHU include pharmacists, student pharmacists and public health nurses providing tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and human papillomavirus vaccines through school-based initiatives.

PartnershipHonorable Mention
Lifetime Health Medical Group

Lifetime Health Medical Group is a versatile primary care practice with on-site pharmacies and urgent care located in Rochester and Buffalo, New York. Prior to 2013, none of their pharmacists were trained and credentialed to immunize. Recognizing an opportunity to better serve their patients, Lifetime Health Medical Group started an initiative in 2013 to have their pharmacists trained to immunize patients without needing an office appointment. The medical group practice of Lifetime Health was having a difficult time with billing Medicare Part D for zoster vaccine and the pharmacy offered a solution to help with this problem. A cross-departmental team at Lifetime Health Medical Group was formed that included Lean Six Sigma Black Belt project managers, pharmacy, nursing, practice management, billing office and information technology staff. Initially, the team met on a bi-weekly basis and then continued meeting monthly. They integrated pharmacy to help work through the challenges for logistics, billing, and reporting. As a result, the pharmacy gave zoster vaccine to almost 1,400 patients in 2013.

Community Outreach – National Winner
Monali Majmudar, PharmD - Walgreens

Monali Majmudar, a pharmacy manager and district immunization trainer for Walgreens, forged a partnership three years ago with Georgia’s District Nine Head Start Programs to provide influenza vaccinations to low income families. This innovative partnership has had a far reaching impact. The first year of the partnership with the Head Start Program met with limited success due to Georgia’s rules, which limit pharmacists to administer vaccines only to persons 12 years of age or older, as well as a lack of volunteer support. Before the start of the second year, Majmudar recruited the Mercer University Physician Assistant Program faculty and students to expand the reach of this program. This effort was accomplished through the signing of a preceptorship agreement, the first of its kind, between Walgreens and the university. The addition of the Physician Assistant Program volunteers allows these clinics to immunize children ages two years and older. The second year of immunization clinics resulted in over 600 influenza vaccinations administered. The program has continued to grow with the third year resulting in more than 700 influenza vaccinations given at various Head Start Programs. Majmudar actively seeks opportunities to promote immunizations. She gives speeches at nearby churches, AARP meetings, and other local senior chapters. Additionally, she is a guest speaker on local radio and television stations, where she emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated and the easy accessibility of pharmacists who provide vaccines.

Community OutreachHonorable Mention
Allison Dering-Anderson, PharmD - University of Nebraska College of Pharmacy

Ally Dering-Anderson greatly contributes to community outreach through her numerous and varied presentations. Among her many presentations, Dering-Anderson spoke at a university-sponsored “Science Cafe” to citizens interested in hearing about science in an easily understandable way. At this standing room only program, she talked about vaccines and immunizations, and encouraged all attending to get vaccinated. She reaches approximately 50,000 people every other Tuesday on her live, call-in radio show that airs on 7 radio stations in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. She talks directly to the public and answers their questions. During her 2013 shows, Dering-Anderson talked about influenza vaccines 21 times, discussed shingles vaccines more than 40 times and encouraged new grandparents to pay attention to pertussis over 15 times. Dering-Anderson also serves as a preceptor for many APhA-ASP–sponsored vaccine clinics and teaches the didactic portion of the APhA Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery certificate training program that is offered annually to student pharmacists. She has personally administered more than 40,000 immunizations in her career.

Pharmacy Team Member
Marianne Reed - Walgreens

As store manager, Marianne Reed has established relationships with more than 40 civic associations, local towns, education administrations, health organizations, government, senior groups, homeless services and other types of organizations over the last three years. In the first two years, she went out into the community, introduced herself and offered her pharmacy’s patient care services to give flu and zoster vaccinations, as well as blood pressure screenings, to individuals who would not otherwise go to a doctor or pharmacy to receive these services. She worked as a team member with pharmacists and community leaders to make these programs successful.  She also has spoken at local senior centers about fall prevention, adherence to their medical protocols, stroke prevention and other health issues. The mayor of Fayetteville recognized Reed for her community immunization program in December 2013. Her work has been recognized in the Fayetteville Observer and a local community magazine titled Senior Living.

About the American Pharmacists Association

The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. www.pharmacist.com

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