UHCOP APhA-ASP Chapter Wins Operation Diabetes, Operation Heart Awards at Region VI MRM
December 16 — The UHCOP chapter of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) won the Operation Diabetes Award and Operation Heart Award for Region VI at the 2021 Midyear Regional Meeting Nov. 1-4.
Although observance of COVID-19 safety protocols during the 2020-21 program year, the two operations were able to educate thousands in the community and their organization members through a range of virtual events and social media messaging. Operation Diabetes was led by Senior Chair Haneen Alshrouf and Junior Chairs Leslye Echeverria, Alec Garza and Phuong Nguyen, while Operation Heart was led by Senior Chairs Erin Montejo and Christie Saad and Junior Chairs Christina Cisar and Alisha Patel.
The Operation Diabetes team's activities included trivia questions about the disease and misconceptions surrounding it during Diabetes Awareness Month, which reached more than 5,000 people, as well as infographics on the intersection of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), influenza vaccine, and hyperglycemia.
Team members also created and posted to social media several cooking demonstrations of diabetes-friendly recipes as well as student and faculty reflections on living with diabetes/gestational diabetes. Other projects included publishing weekly "Finger Tips" in the chapter newsletter to help fellow students improve their skills in identifying previously undiagnosed diabetics and those who are risk of developing the disease and how to encourage patient medication adherence and educating third-grade students about diabetes and disease prevention live via Zoom presentation.
Among the guest speaker seminars for fellow students were sessions on community health fair guidance for those who hadn’t yet been able to work one due to pandemic restrictions; counseling the newly diagnosed, including anxiety, diabetic distress syndrome and coping mechanisms; and diabetic retinopathy with UH College of Optometry students.
The Operation Heart team also focused its community and member education efforts on virtual and social media presentations during the ongoing pandemic.
Operation Heart created and posted 11 social media messages promoting heart health and education on cardiovascular disease states or patient populations during the 2020-21 year, including congenital heart defects, cardiac rehabilitation and women’s heart health all during American Heart Month in February. Other examples of cardiovascular health-related messages through social media included "Eat Smart Month" in November and "World Heart Day" in September, as well as a Heart Healthy Social Media Campaign in collaboration with the UH Student College of Clinical Pharmacy focusing on the importance of exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle and diet during the pandemic.
Although Operation Heart’s recent tradition of hosting the Heart Hustle 5K that raises funds for the American Heart Association (AHA) through walk/run registrations was quashed again by pandemic protocols, the team pushed forward with its second annual Steps Competition. The virtual program saw an 800% increase in participants over the previous year and raised nearly $1,300 for the AHA’s Houston affiliate.
As part of its member education efforts, Operation Heart hosted online seminars on such topics as vaccines and cardiovascular health and the path to becoming a Board Certified Cardiology Pharmacist, as well as a panel led by Texas Medical Center-based pharmacy residents, clinical specialists and pharmacy leaders on the impact of COVID-19 on their respective roles.