WSU Applebaum spotlights community pharmacy rotation site Merriman Drugs on national stage
Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor Brittany Stewart and Associate Clinical Professor Aline Saad worked with Hanadi Thomas-Salamey '01, owner of Merriman Drugs, and student pharmacists to submit a detailed profile of the community pharmacy rotation site for the ACT Pharmacy Collaborative's 50 stories from 50 states multimedia library. Their submission, reprinted below, is featured as Michigan's contribution to this nationally publicized initiative.
Description of pharmacy
Merriman Drugs is a single family-owned independent pharmacy serving the Detroit metropolitan area located in Livonia, Michigan. From the United States Census Bureau, the median income of residents in Livonia is $38,489. The pharmacy serves an aging population with a majority of the patients being over 65 years old and insured. The population is predominantly white with a small group of Middle Eastern and African-American patients. The pharmacy fills approximately 3,000 to 3,500 prescriptions per month. The pharmacy offers face-to-face access, medication reconciliation, clinical medication synchronization, immunizations, comprehensive medication reviews, creation of personal medication records, a private setting to discuss medications, medication consultation, home delivery, home visits, and naloxone dispensing. The pharmacy site is also an IPPE and APPE rotation site for students at Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Meet the team
Faculty lead contacts
- Brittany Stewart, RD, PharmD
- Aline Saad, PharmD
Pharmacist lead contact
- Hanadi Thomas-Salamey, RPh
- Hassan Khatib
- Melanda Nazee
Merriman Drugs is an independent pharmacy that has served the community well since 1956. Hanadi Thomas (RPh), a Wayne State University pharmacy graduate and preceptor for more than 10 years, purchased Merriman Drugs with her business partner/co-owner about 2 years ago. Hanadi became the lead pharmacist and sought to increase patient care services and advance practice for the community of patients that have been filling prescriptions there for many years. This community encompasses low-income families and elderly patients that struggle with access to care. Many patients that were filling their prescriptions at Merriman Drugs for years previously were not up to date with immunizations and were unaware that they were even eligible for many vaccines.
Shortly after Hanadi took ownership of the pharmacy, COVID began sweeping the nation early in 2020. Since the pandemic began, many patients lost access to their healthcare needs and felt anxious about the future of their health. Furthermore, the COVID pandemic exacerbated the nation’s physician shortage and prohibited access to physicians for many patients. In response to the COVID19 pandemic challenges and to address the needs of its community, the Merriman Drug pharmacy team was determined to provide quality care to patients and ensure that all its patients have routine and continuous access to immunizations, patient care services, and prescription services. Accordingly, the Merriman Drugs pharmacy team built a comprehensive immunization service at the pharmacy that did not previously exist. The service included provision of influenza, pneumococcal, shingles, COVID, MMR, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV, and meningococcal vaccines.
Through these services, Merriman Drugs pharmacy team played a critical role in providing access to vaccinations to its community to prevent infectious diseases and to improve public health efforts.
Many patients in the Livonia community were worried about their healthcare needs and were either unable to get to the pharmacy or leave their house during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Merriman Drugs pharmacy team was committed to improving public health and disease prevention by advocating for and administering routine immunizations to the community in addition to COVID vaccines.
To meet patients’ healthcare needs and increase vaccination efforts, Merriman Drugs partnered with various community stakeholders. In a joint effort with BMC pharmacy, owned by Heather Thomas RPH, Merriman Drugs pharmacy team provided three vaccination clinics at Walled Lake School District that allowed patients to receive flu shots, COVID boosters, and COVID vaccines for children. In addition, the Merriman Drugs pharmacy team hosted their annual flu clinic at St. John Armenian Church, an event they have been holding for the last 8 years. Furthermore, the Merriman Drugs pharmacy team was offering home visits to patients who were not able to leave their houses, ensuring access to care and vaccines. These vaccination clinics and home visits presented a great opportunity for the 4th year APPE students from Wayne State University rotating at Merriman Drugs to join the frontline workers in battling the pandemic by vaccinating hundreds of patients.
To document and foster patient education, the Merriman Drugs pharmacy team generated the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) reports for its patients. As the pharmacist and patient discussed the report, they assessed vaccine eligibility, addressed vaccine hesitancy, dispelled common myths and misconceptions about vaccines, and built trust. These immunization records, stapled to prescription bags, promoted discussions of vaccination and increased immunization rates in the community.
Outcomes of care provided
Two hundred students were vaccinated at the Walled Lake School District through the Merriman Drug and BMC pharmacy vaccination clinics. The principle of the Walled Lake Schools was much appreciative of these services as he stated: “Thank you Hanadi, Heather, and everyone involved. The safety of the Walled Lake School community is paramount, and we were happy to begin the journey to ensure vaccines are available to students/families who would like them.” In addition, fifty patients received their flu shots during the annual flu clinic at St. John Armenian Church.
The Merriman Drugs pharmacy team administered 7 vaccinations to patients in the safety of their own homes. Without this personalized care, these patients would not have been vaccinated and would remain prone to contracting diseases. These patients were incredibly grateful for Merriman Drugs’ accommodating their personal and healthcare needs.
Finally, pharmacy students who were engaged in these vaccination clinics experienced first hand the role of a pharmacist in patient care delivery during unprecedented times of a pandemic. Having the opportunity to participate in such outreach clinics to underserved populations and communities with poor access to care reinforces their commitment to the values that underpin the pharmacy profession.
Outcome to the pharmacy
The Merriman Drugs pharmacy team extended their time, efforts, and resources to provide vaccinations to their community during times of need. The pharmacy was compensated through patients’ insurances, when available, for provided vaccinations.
This pandemic highlighted the role of pharmacists as essential healthcare providers serving as key access points for patients. The Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN) requires all member pharmacies to provide immunization screening for ACIP recommended immunizations. In order to implement this screening process at many community pharmacies, and effectively deliver vaccinations, additional staffing will be required to ensure financially feasible care that all patients can access and receive.