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UTHSC Pharmacy Students Provide Masks for Underserved

The Student National Pharmaceutical Association at UTHSC is contributing to the university’s fight against the coronavirus by making masks to give to those in need in underserved communities. 

The UTHSC College of Pharmacy chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) is making face coverings to help underserved communities in Tennessee during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amelia Thompson, the SNPhA chapter president, said the chapter wanted to donate the face coverings to underserved African American communities because these communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

“Many African Americans work in high risk/essential jobs and aren’t able to work from home,” Thompson said. “It was important for us to make face coverings for this community so that they can protect themselves as best as they can.”

Dr. Kenneth Hohmeier, the UTHSC SNPhA advisor, said data show that those who are suffering the most from COVID-19, in terms of death and morbidity, are those in underserved communities.

The chapter has already donated 40 face coverings to Parkway Health and Rehabilitation, a nursing home in Memphis that saw an outbreak in April. They also donated 31 face coverings to Pruitt Discount Pharmacy, an independent African American-owned pharmacy serving underserved patients in East Nashville.

“I am proud of our SNPhA Chapter for their efforts to serve those most in need during this time,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Marie Chisholm-Burns.

More than 100 face coverings have been donated to Memphis Health Center, a medical center in Memphis serving primarily underserved African American communities. Sheila Liddell, a UTHSC College of Pharmacy alumnus who works at Memphis Health Center said she was elated when she was contacted about the donations.

“Our patients here in North Memphis have expressed difficulties finding face coverings or even finding supplies to make them,” Liddell said. “The underserved population struggles with getting access to good health care a lot of times.”

She said the patients at the clinic often fall into high-risk categories for COVID-19 because of factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and respiratory disorders.

“Thanks to the SNPhA chapter, we have been able to assist in lowering the fear of the virus and providing those without masks an option,” she said.

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories looking at how UTHSC students, faculty, and staff across the campus are contributing to the battle against the coronavirus. We are seeking stories about students, faculty, staff, and alumni contributing to this effort. Please contact communications@uthsc.edu if you have ideas for future stories. For up-to-date information and resources about the coronavirus, go to https://uthsc.edu/coronavirus/.