The pharmacy run by the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has a new home.
A ribbon cutting was held this week to celebrate the grand opening of the new home for College Parkside Pharmacy inside the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Center. The stand-alone student-run pharmacy, which opened in 2017, has left its original location in the city's South End for Arbor Hill. The new digs are inside Whitney Young at 920 Lark Drive.
Dave Shippee is president and CEO of Whitney Young Health. "This will allow the students as well as the two institutions to really foster a higher level of integration. And I think if we follow where a lot of motivation is now in health care is really to integrate as much as possible and not just co-locate. And so we had had a previous long term relationship with Price Chopper and they had a pharmacy here but you know I would say during those years it probably much more of a co-located experience as opposed to an integrated experience, and in bring the College of Pharmacy, you know, in to take over the dispensing side of the pharmacy world, we have a chance to kind of hit the reset button with that, and really foster that greater level of integration. So I think we're pretty excited from the Whitney Young side."
ACPHS President Dr. Greg Dewey says the move will benefit students and patients. "It's just that practical benefit of dealing directly with patients, patients that are of high need. We're teaching them a different level of problem-solving. You know there is a certain immediacy of having a person at the counter with some very significant problems that you have to counsel, and that's a problem-solving skill that we really want our students to learn. The other thing is, in an underserved setting, the scope of pharmacy practice is greater, that we can do more in this setting than we might otherwise be able to do. So that means the students can really test the extent of the things they've learned, the extent of their skills, and really in a way, I think it anticipates the future of pharmacy. Being fully part of the medical team and getting involved in family practice."
State Assemblyman John McDonald is a Democrat who runs Marra's Pharmacy in Cohoes. He agrees the role of the pharmacist has dramatically changed. "The reality is now, more than ever, all pharmacists are actually Doctors of Pharmacy. They are now the authorities on how prescription drugs are taken, and they're gonna prevail to provide a greater level of service to patients, which I think is, particularly in this population that Whitney Young serves, is critical."
Officials say ACPHS will continue delivering prescriptions to the South End and maintain a physical presence there through The Collaboratory, a community health initiative it launched last year at 3 Lincoln Square in partnership with Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region.
But South End residents like former Common Councilor Dom Calsolaro say the community of mostly low-income residents, including many seniors and people of color, are getting the short end of the stick. Losing College Parkside Pharmacy deepens the void left when Rite-Aid closed the neighborhood's sole pharmacy/convenience store. "They did say people could still order prescriptions through them and they'll get delivered. But again it's another hit for the South End, losing another necessary establishment that we need. No grocery store. Now we don't have a drug store or a pharmacy to get our prescriptions. A lot of people don't have cars, they depend on public transportation and it's just another thing that makes life more difficult."
Officials note The Collaboratory offers an array of health and social services for South End residents and will likely expand into the space previously occupied by College Parkside Pharmacy.