Fatima Khan, Elise Mann, and Sharae Hightower
Purdue University PharmD Students
The Purdue University chapter of CPNP holds strong community partnerships within Lafayette, Indiana, and surrounding counties. One of our community partners, Home with Hope, provides a continuum of care for individuals struggling with substance use disorders. Often following detox treatment, these individuals enter Home with Hope and are awarded a structured, nurturing environment to aid in their recovery journey. As a non-profit organization, Home with Hope relies primarily on external assistance, including donations and volunteerism. As CPNP members at Purdue, we aimed to help Home with Hope in their mission of providing excellent care for these individuals by identifying areas of need and bridging those gaps.
With a greater understanding of Home with Hope’s mission, students saw an opportunity to collaborate and contribute to this treasured community resource. Purdue University offers the Service-Learning Grant Program that provides grant funding to foster the expansion of community service involvement. This encourages students to solve problems and provide a service to the community while utilizing their education and program-specific skill sets. We first arranged a meeting with the executive director at Home with Hope to identify client needs concerning healthcare. It was shared that clients often have difficulty managing their medications and that certain medical supplies were running low in the housing units. The Purdue Service-Learning Grant awarded us $1,460 to apply toward this cause. After some careful planning, it was determined that the grant would fund six large first aid kits, one-hundred AM/PM medication organizers, and fifty HIV/STD tests. These supplies were ordered and obtained through collaboration with the Purdue University Pharmacy and the Tippecanoe County Health Department.
We wanted to tie the project together by educating the members of Home with Hope. Because we were providing free HIV/STD testing, we believed that holding a session on HIV prevention and treatment would be a perfect way to utilize our skills as student pharmacists and reinforce the grant funding. With fellow CPNP student members' help, we formulated patient-friendly information sheets and held a small-group topic discussion on HIV, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). Throughout the session, the community members were engaged and interactive with questions and personal anecdotes that were touching and added value to the learning experience.
Collaboration with Home with Hope has shown a notable impact on members of the greater Lafayette community recovering from a substance use disorder and/or experiencing mental illness. With pharmacy students advocating for their care, we have estimated that over 200 community members have been or will be impacted by this project. We know that first aid kits are now available in the housing units and that one hundred Home with Hope clients are now guaranteed to have medication organizers throughout their stay through health supplies alone. These members may be juggling multiple medications, and the timing and adherence of their medication can be made far simpler by introducing an AM/PM seven-day pill organizer. This will allow members to worry less about their medications and focus their energy and efforts on their recovery journey. The HIV/STD testing is predicted to sustain Home with Hope for a year and will be a means to raise awareness, receive any necessary treatment early on, and practice harm reduction. Our HIV discussion revealed that several participants had an outdated understanding of HIV, still viewing it as a death sentence with no effective or safe treatment in sight. As pharmacy students, we had the opportunity to minimize misinformation, empower our community members to have greater autonomy, and create a deeper understanding of the available treatment options.