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UHCOP Wins National Award for Homeless Clinic Collaboration

AACP Student Community-Engaged Service Award, Grants Help Expand Resources at Student-run H.O.M.E.S. Clinic

The UHCOP project team that received the AACP Student Community-Engaged Service Award for the HOMES Clinic included, from left, students Habeeba Nizamdin, Kim Anh Pham and Henrietta D. Abodakpi and faculty preceptor/advisor David Wallace.

UH College of Pharmacy student and faculty volunteers have received a national award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) for their work to expand essential healthcare services for Houston's homeless population.

The AACP Student Community-Engaged Service Award is in recognition of the UHCOP team's ongoing activities through the Houston Outreach Medicine, Education and Social Services (H.O.M.E.S.) Clinic, an interprofessional, student-run clinic in downtown Houston. The clinic operates under the auspices of the nonprofit Healthcare for the Homeless-Houston (HHH), which was founded by Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) physician David Buck.

The HOMES Clinic is a collaboration of UHCOP, BCM, UH Graduate College of Social Work, and the schools of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center (UTHealth). The clinic has served more than 3,000 patients since it was launched in 2000.

The clinic is open every Sunday to ensure access to needed services on a day when most other healthcare providers are closed while also reducing the use of hospital emergency rooms for non-life-threatening conditions.

Pharmacy faculty member David Wallace, Pharm.D., student project leader Kim Anh Pham and Dean F. Lamar Pritchard, Ph.D., received the award and grant monies totaling $16,000 July 16 at the AACP Annual Meeting in Chicago. Other student members who worked on the grant project are Henrietta D. Abodakpi and Habeeba Nizamdin.

"I'm elated that the HOMES Clinic team is being acknowledged for serving the homeless community for more than a decade," said Kim Anh Pham, who also was appointed as the clinic's first executive director from UH College of Pharmacy. "Being a part of HOMES Clinic has not only helped me in deciding what I want to do in my pharmacy career, but it also gave me insight to the needs of the homeless population. I've gained a deeper understanding of how homelessness could happen to any of us as a result of life-changing events or circumstances that are often beyond a person's control."

Outgoing AACP President Brian Crabtree presents the Student Community-Engaged Service Award to UHCOP Dean Lamar Pritchard, newly installed HOMES Clinic executive director and pharmacy student Kim Anh Pham and faculty preceptor/advisor David Wallace at the AACP Annual Meeting in July.  (photo courtesy of Edward Fox Photography)

Pham said the grant monies primarily will be used to restock and expand the on-site pharmacy's supply of common medications, including inhalers for asthma and other lung conditions, antibiotics, vaccines, and psychiatric drugs.

Serving in a supervisory role over pharmacy students, Wallace has been a fixture at HOMES almost every Sunday since the clinic opened.  

"It's very rewarding to see the students grow not only in their technical and clinical knowledge and skills, but also in their empathy and awareness of the complex medical, mental health and social needs within this patient population," Wallace said.

Dean Pritchard said the HOMES Clinic is a prime example of the impact of interprofessional teams in providing basic health services to the underserved through collaborative education and practice models.

"One of the most critical healthcare challenges we face nationwide is poor medication adherence, with an estimated total annual cost upward of $300 billion due to increased hospitalizations and other factors," Pritchard said. "The HOMES Clinic and safety net providers such as HHH play a vital role in receiving basic health care when few other options are available and preventing potentially serious complications resulting from interruptions in their drug therapies."

The AACP Student Community-Engaged Service Award program is sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals.