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Washington State University

Holding the Line on the Fight Against COVID-19

See how our faculty, staff, students, and alumni across the country are working to fight COVID-19 and protect the health of the communities they serve.

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Pharmacists on the frontlines of COVID-19 testing

Hear from WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty and students working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kentaro Sato, class of 2022

When third-year pharmacy student Kentaro Sato had his chance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the high-risk category of essential workers he was resolved to do it.

Now he can continue his work as a pharmacy intern compounding remdesivir doses for patients and stocking and delivering medications in the COVID wards with a little more peace of mind.

Ghazal Meratnia, class of 2024

First-year pharmacy student Ghazal Meratnia has been helping with COVID-19 testing at a local pharmacy, including giving patients instructions, administering nasal swabs, and even running the tests through the IDNOW Abbott rapid testing machines (pictured).

Each test takes about 15 minutes and with two machines running simultaneously they were able to run up to 50-65 tests per day when the pharmacy was at its busiest.

Adelina Guzman, class of 2023

Over the winter break, second-year Yakima pharmacy student Adelina Guzman (right) participated in a COVID vaccine clinic at an assisted living facility/rehabilitation center in Richland, Washington.

Here’s what she had to say about the experience:
“Being able to be a part of vaccinating high-risk members of my community solidified to myself that I undoubtedly chose the right career path. I left the clinic feeling very gratified and blessed to say the least. One day I am going to be able to look back on this state of events and remember that I played a vital part during a worldwide pandemic.

I have received many responses from making it known that I have been administering the vaccine and have received the vaccine myself. Some negative, some positive, but mostly concerns and questions. This enabled me to get first-hand experience in how pharmacists play an important role in education and vaccination. As one of the most trusted health care professionals, it was very satisfying to counsel patients and sometimes change their perspective alongside my preceptor. Shedding light on the importance pharmacists can provide in performing health care services outside of their ‘box’ has been the greatest takeaway. I am now even more excited about what the expansion of this career will look like in the future.

Before Pfizer released the first COVID-19 vaccine I felt very hesitant. I shared many of the same opinions that citizens of the community shared. For example, being concerned about the speed of the production process, absence of any long-term data, etc. However, my first job is to be a student. So, I sought out literature and I was then relieved of my anxiety. Physically, it felt like any other vaccination. Yes, the pre-vaccine jitters will be there, but once it is done, you’ll wonder why you were even scared in the first place. I want to be an example for my community and hopefully make them feel at ease knowing that we can share this experience.”

Natasha Olson, class of 2014

“We are very excited to be able to provide this service by administering the COVID vaccine to the community and to be a part of making history.”

Natasha Olson, class of 2014, (pictured holding a box of the Moderna vaccine) has been working hard as a pharmacist at Summit Cancer Centers North to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Phase 1A individuals in the community.

In total, they are planning on administering 3,000 of the vaccines.

Tyler Fischback, class of 2009, & Trevor Schultz, class of 2022

Tyler Fischback, class of 2009, has mentored Trevor Schultz, class of 2022, over the past three years in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at WSU. In December 2020, they got to make history when they helped vaccinate high-risk health care workers in the community at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Confluence Health up in Wenatchee, including the moment when Trevor himself gave Tyler his first COVID-19 vaccination (pictured).

Here’s what Trevor had to say about the experience:
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get involved, learn, and serve as a role model in the community. I am just trying to absorb as much as possible throughout the experience. If I come away with anything, I at least have a new found confidence in my ability to run clinics like these in the future. I hope to be able to share these experiences with other students in the near future.”


HealthChats: vaccines, flu season and COVID-19

The WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences held an illuminating discussion on commonly asked questions about vaccines, this year’s flu season, and what that could mean for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Torrie Jayne Wolery, class of 2017

Torrie Jayne Wolery, class of 2017, has been hard at work administering the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska!

Here’s what Torrie had to say about the experience:
“When I moved to Alaska 3, almost 4, years ago it was my dream to create an immunization and clinical program at our local independent pharmacy.

I never imagined it would all come together in under two weeks and the first immunization we would give to a patient would be one that had never been administered on our island.

I have been working closely with local and state departments in uncharted waters creating a plan to provide the COVID-19 vaccine(s) to the residents of Ketchikan, Saxman, and Ward Cove.

Alaska received its first shipment early this week. Living in Alaska has proven difficult for logistics of getting this vaccine to communities as it must be kept in ultra-cold storage and once out of that temperature and put into regular refrigeration, must be used within 5 days.

Friday morning I went to the Ketchikan Gateway Airport, accompanied by Kalli Kline Teune, to pick up the first viable shipment of vaccine on our island. The adrenaline rush and pure elation was like nothing I’ve experienced before. I received my first dose of the vaccine and then we spent the rest of the day administering it to staff and residents of assisted living facilities and employees of Guardian Flight, our provider for emergency air medical services.

This entire experience has further solidified my decision to make pharmacy my lifelong career as I continue to learn, experience, teach, and provide medical services and information to the local community.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years! I couldn’t have done this without my incredible boss and coworkers as well!!”

Students raise funds for virtual care in Yakima nursing homes

Nursing homes have been ground zero for the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with nursing home residents making up more than a quarter of all deaths nationwide caused by the virus. Several pharmacy students have decided to take matters into their own hands by providing virtual care to elderly patients in Yakima Valley nursing homes.

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Student pharmacists on COVID-19 testing in Pullman

“As health care providers all we want to do is educate, immunize, and help provide those services.”

When Misty Lefler and Shayne Fontes learned that volunteers were urgently needed for COVID-19 testing at WSU’s Pullman campus, the third-year pharmacy students scrambled to organize their peers over one weekend.

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Pharmacy students prepare to vaccinate

Every fall second-year pharmacy students complete their immunization training certificate.

This year looked a little different. Normally dozens of students would gather in a room to be evaluated on their technique. This year, students were certified in small groups, just in time to administer flu vaccines and the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

Pharmacy researcher’s quest to help homeless during COVID-19

As Spokane shelters have had to put limits on the number of people admitted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, WSU faculty are seeking out individuals experiencing homelessness in Spokane to offer help and health checks.

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Managing diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic

The deleterious impact that the COVID-19 virus has on people living with diabetes is now well known. When the American Diabetes Association, had to quickly pull together a panel of experts to study the impact the virus has on people living with diabetes, they called on pharmacotherapy professor, Joshua Neumiller.

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Creativity in teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic uproots life for many pharmacy students across the nation, faculty and staff met the challenge head on through technology and innovation.

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Keeping students and faculty connected while socially distanced

As COVID-19 swept through the nation, many institutes of higher education were faced with the prospect of suddenly moving instruction to a virtual setting. The WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) was no exception. With only a few days’ notice, the CPPS IT team had to spring to action to provide the IT infrastructure for nearly 700 students and 160 faculty and staff to work from home as the Washington state governor issued a mandated stay-at-home order in March.

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