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Pharmacy students hold health fairs for non-English speakers

October 3, 2008 | 11:45 am

Usc1_2 When USC School of Pharmacy students offered a health fair to the Vietnamese community in Westminster last year, 1,700 people showed up for free screenings, flu shots and pharmacy consultations. A later health fair for Korean-speaking residents drew 1,000 in Koreatown.

"The popularity of the student events illustrates two important issues facing Los Angeles -- health care for the uninsured and the lack of bilingual or bicultural health care," says R. Pete Vanderveen, dean of the School of Pharmacy.

The pharmacy students will once again volunteer their time this month to provide the health fairs. One event will be held Oct. 5 at the Westminster Civic Center (8200 Westminster Blvd.) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free screenings for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, osteoporosis and body fat analysis will be available. Flu shots will be available for people 18 and older while supplies last. There may be a nominal fee for the flu shot.

A second fair, this one for Korean speakers, will be held Oct. 25 at the Berendo Street Baptist Church (975 S. Berendo St.) in Koreatown. Free screenings will be available. Free flu shots will be available to people 18 and older while supplies last.

The pharmacy students, who are under faculty supervision at the fairs, also will consult with people about their prescriptions and over-the-counter drug use to look for possible safety issues or interactions.

The fairs not only benefit a lot of people, they give students experience with the health-care needs of under-served communities. "Many of the patients have revealed to me that the opportunity to discuss their health with someone who speaks Vietnamese is of greatest value to them," says Dat Ngo, president of the Vietnamese-American Pharmacy Student Assn. "Being a part of this health fair has helped me better understand the dynamics of the field I will be joining as well as feel more connected to the people I want to help as a pharmacist."

- Shari Roan

Photo: USC pharmacy students work at a health fair in Westminster on Oct. 28, 2007. Credit: USC School of Pharmacy