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Student-Run Pharmacy Opens In Albany

The Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has opened its second student-run pharmacy — this time in the city. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was on hand for the ribbon-cutting.

Following on the heels of its successful facility that opened last spring in Schenectady, College Parkside Pharmacy is situated on the first floor of the Capital South Campus Center at 20 Warren Street in Albany. New York State Senator Neil Breslin says the pharmacy is a win for all involved.    "It's going to be wonderful for this neighborhood. Pharmacists, I believe in their involvement in the community, and I believe that they're such an important part of our health care system."

“Gus” Barranca will oversee pharmacy services and work side-by-side with students.
Credit ACPHS
“Gus” Barranca will oversee pharmacy services and work side-by-side with students.

The 570-square foot pharmacy features a full-time, licensed pharmacist, Gus Barranca, who will supervise ACPHS students as they complete their bachelor’s, master’s and doctor of pharmacy programs.  "We're gonna try to develop community relationships, have our students become 'beyond practice-ready' so they're able to function in any type pharmacy setting when they graduate."

In addition to dispensing medications, the pharmacy will offer expanded services such as medication therapy management, bone density/cholesterol/blood pressure screenings, immunizations, educational programs and wellness counseling.

College president Dr. Greg Dewey says the pharmacy serves a dual purpose.   "It really educates our students in the very practical skills of running a pharmacy, but it also is a great outreach to this area, really a medically underserved area, and we are gonna offer a whole variety of pharmaceutical/clinical services, and we want this to be more than just a pharmacy. It's really a focal point for community collaboration."

Future plans include sharing space with a physician or nurse practitioner to ensure patients have convenient access to multiple levels of health care. Willie White is executive director of AVillage Inc.  "It's a great collaboration between AVillage and the Albany College of Pharmacy. They are great people to work with, but this is for the community, bringing services to the community which they so rightfully deserve and are happy about it. We did some outreach concerning this particular pharmacy, and people are excited, because a lot of our residents go to school here, and to be able to go to your class, pick up your medication here, work with the students on community outreach, it's an amazing godsend.”

Initial funding for College Parkside Pharmacy is being provided through the Albany College of Pharmacy’s $6 million “Beyond Practice Ready” campaign, which was launched in December 2015. It aims to prepare graduates to learn core professional skills and be adaptable to a changing workforce landscape. Supporters of the campaign include the college’s board of trustees, Rochester Drug Co-Op, Inc., MVP Healthcare, and Albany Housing Authority, which owns the building. Steven Longo is AHA's executive director:  "The Housing Authority has a history and a track record of partnering, and when we come to a table we realize, as we sit down with our partners, what we bring. Our forte is being a landlord and developing property, and so we helped this to happen by bringing the facility."

The pharmacy is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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