#UBuffalo Strong

Photos and stories from School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty, staff, students and alumni about enduring the COVID-19 pandemic.

Class of 1981 on the front lines of the local fight against COVID-19

A group of extraordinary alumni from the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Class of 1981 are leaders in local area healthcare systems—and their roles have taken on new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UB partners on project to develop blood test that predicts severe COVID-19

Blood Test.

UB is joining forces with other Western New York health care and medical research leaders to develop blood tests that uncover hidden information in the cells of those exposed to coronavirus to determine which patients will develop severe symptoms.

UB pharmacy researcher one of the first in the nation to test experimental COVID-19 treatment

Gene Morse.

SUNY Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy Practice Gene Morse, along with others from UB, is leading an experimental clinical trial of a drug that has the potential to prevent inflammation that chokes off breathing for COVID-19 patients on ventilators.

Caring for the displaced

Edward Bednarczyk.

Clinical Associate Professor Edward Bednarczyk along with other local health care professionals are volunteering to help those displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic. A local hotel is offering housing for the homeless, shelter for those who can't easily quarantine as well assistance to others stranded in Buffalo due to travel issues. Dr. Bednarczyk assists with record keeping of those entering and exiting the hotel and helps to ensure PPE is utilized when necessary.

UB taught me how to be compassionate

Lisa Yamagishi, PharmD '17
Lisa Yamagishi.

I am currently working at NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County as a clinical pharmacist and narcotics supervisor. We serve an indigent population here in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Our population has been hit especially hard with COVID-19.

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Every day is getting more difficult in the front lines of the epicenter of the pandemic. UB taught me how to be compassionate and provide the best care for the underserved. I bring that sense of justice to work with me every day.

I fight for our patients and our workers in public health whether it be for safe medication use, safe pharmacy practices, and advocating for all employees and patients, regardless of income or color. What keeps me going every day is the outpouring of support I’ve received from friends and strangers who have reached out and provided sewn masks from around the country, N95 masks, gloves, isopropyl alcohol, and ENCOURAGEMENT.

Pharmacists are crucial in this fight and I cannot be prouder to be a healthcare worker during this crisis. 

Doing my part

Chloe Matecki, PharmD '23
Chloe Matecki.

Doing my part, no matter how small. It's very heartwarming to receive masks like these from the community. We were able to get filters for them. Please be kind to healthcare workers. We are trying to help in a very stressful time. We will get through this as a community!

Tips from your local pharmacist

Nabila Ismail, PharmD '19
Nabila Ismail.

Tips from your neighborhood pharmacist for your next trip to the pharmacy:

  1. When coming to the store, please read the signs and distance yourself as directed by the tape. Realize the pharmacy is not a place to hang out at, there’s many sick people going in and out.
  2. Utilize the drive-thru to avoid coming inside! Or now, there’s free delivery! Use the apps or call the appropriate number.

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3. Please do not call the pharmacy for questions you can easily find the answer to on the website. If there are less phone calls, we are able to do the rest of our duties...like get your medicine ready! ⠀

4. If you have to update your insurance or have a discount code, please use the app to send it to us or bring it inside. ⠀

5. Please don't be upset if we don't have hand sanitizer to use at the counter. We need to save our supplies for ourselves. Wear gloves or bring your own hand sanitizer with you.

6. If your parents or grandparents need medicine, and if you're healthier and in the position to, please pick up their prescriptions for them so they can stay home and be safe! ⠀

7. Please be kind and patient during this time. We’re trying our best but we’re often understaffed. Please come back when we ask you to. If we say an hour, we need the hour to do fill else's prescription before you and to make sure it’s accurate and safe. 

8. If you’re looking for an item that is NOT behind the pharmacy, please ask the front store employees.

Thanks Professor Fiebelkorn

Victoria Adams-Sommer, PharmD '10
Victoria Adams.

Hello Professor Fiebelkorn,

I am reaching out to tell you that I think of you each morning as I become nervous when I am about to walk into my hospital building here at Mount Sinai.

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I am working diligently around the clock with my team to produce treatment guidelines, work with my procurement team to ensure we have enough medicine, communicate across our health system about restrictions and medication information, answer questions for my ID providers, collaborate with cardiology and critical care, provide reference documents on our clinical trials and provide reference documents for our CEOs to answer media questions.

When I think of you and our school, I think how our worth was taught to us and that a pharmacist should be brought to the table to assist with these things—but that doesn’t unfortunately always occur.

I go into work thinking "What Would Fiebelkorn Do (WWFD)?". He would tell you to take your seat at the table, guide medication use, show them what a UB pharmacist is made of and do your best. I am then able to convince myself to go into my office.

Hope all is well. I am thinking of you, our students and Buffalo.

Leaving retirement to fight COVID-19

Jim Millard, BS '81

Former president and CEO of Kenmore Mercy Hospital Jim Millard, BS '81, will come out of retirement to lead staffing at Catholic Health during the COVID-19 pandemic. He will serve as executive leader and incident commander of the health system Staffing Center, established to address the pandemic as it unfolds in the region.

Virtually transitioning to new student leadership

Erin Slazak, Clinical Assistant Professor
APhA Zoom Meeting.

The UB chapter of APhA-Academy of Student Pharmacists virtually transitioned to their newly elected executive board. Congrats to our new APhA student leaders: President Caroline Irwin, President-elect Sarah Young, Communications VP Kristine Nguyen, Professionalism VP Harris Jalili, Interprofessional VP Caroline Krukowski, Membership VP Sara Salah, Policy VP Francesco Lopizzo, Secretary Angelly Joy Miane and Finance VP Eddy Pudim.

At the front of the pack in helping others

Kathy Boje, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Blood Donation.

I did something that I haven’t done since college.

I donated blood.

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I used to donate blood frequently in college.  I have small veins, so when the phlebotomist would have a bit of a time with the needle insertion, I’d reassure the phlebotomist that it wasn’t them, it was me.  The last time I donated while in college was when the phlebotomist couldn’t puncture the vein–I had too much scar tissue, and the vein was just rolling away from the needle.  I was a “donor scratch."

Then COVID-19 hit. And all of my spring half-marathons were cancelled, as was my Saturday morning run training group. (I’m a slow runner, and always at the back of the pack).

I saw the chyrons at the bottom of the TV, pleading for blood donations because of a shortage. Many workplace blood drives were cancelled with COVID-19.

So I thought...why not? My sister is a respiratory therapist, working long hours, committed to helping the very sick. Donating blood was the least I could do.

I researched both the American Red Cross and Connect Life websites. I made an appointment.

I went to the blood drive site, in a church basement. Physical distance practices were in place. 

I was handed an iPad to fill out questions (some of them personal, but necessary to assure a quality pint of blood).

They took my temp, checked my iron levels, asked some more questions.

Then it was time to donate.

Yup, I won’t lie. I warned them about my small veins.

They tried, and they asked, "Are you with us?"  “Yes, I am!” I replied. I didn’t want to be a “donor scratch."

A little jiggle–and voila!  The blood flowed!

It didn’t take long. 

Yes, I have a bit of bruising, and my arm hurt for about a day because they used a blood pressure cuff on my arm.  (I do have small veins!)

So if you can, if you are able, consider donating a pint of blood.  A life depends on it!

Staying connected with prospective students

Jennifer Rosenberg, Associate Dean and Director of Admissions
Skype call.

While we love meeting prospective pharmacy students in-person, we also value connecting with them through Skype! I'm having some great conversations about what being a pharmacist means, especially in times like these.