|Students from PBA's Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy did basic health checks and pitched in to bag goods in food pantries as part of their summer missions trip to interior Florida.|
Each summer Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy sends students on trips around the world to volunteer in places such as Uganda, Bolivia and Honduras. And while those underdeveloped countries have great medical and spiritual needs, some of the biggest needs are right here in Florida, in our own backyard.
Over two weeks in June, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice Jacintha Cauffield and Assistant Professor of Administration and Social Sciences Jamie Fairclough led a team of students to a pair of small farming towns in western Palm Beach County and nearly halfway across the state to the sugar-growing community of Clewiston, in Hendry County.
In the towns of Belle Glade, Pahokee and Clewiston – where economic struggle is common -- the pharmacy mission team brought care to families in need and the elderly.
Along with the sponsorship support of the Lloyd L. Gregory family, the students raised their own funds so they could participate in the mission trip. Some students are there for class credit, others have volunteered their time for the opportunity to serve. Either way, important needs in those communities are being met through their presence.
Local soup kitchens and missions -- such as the Clewiston Food Pantry, New Hope Charities, and the Lighthouse Cafe – welcome the added support and services.
Each morning the team meets before sunrise outside the pharmacy building on PBA’s West Palm Beach campus to head out west for the day – into the heat and extreme humidity of summer in the interior Florida, working wedged between the Lake Okeechobee levee and the northern edge of the Everglades. Operating through the local food pantries, churches and charities, the team provides simple medical exams -- including checks of blood pressure and blood sugar -- while sharing basic pharmaceutical information.
This is the second year that Dr. Cauffield has co-led a team to the area. A clinical pharmacist, she is the designated clinical leader overseeing the operations of the trip.
“Many of these people are underserved and have no means of getting medical aid,” said Dr. Cauffield. “It is a real joy to be able to provide them some assistance and share our faith in the process.”
With the area’s poverty level 167 percent higher than the national average, the need is truly great, but not insurmountable. While clinical aid is the main focus of the trip, child care and prayer sessions are also provided to families in need.
With a line of people waiting for them every morning, the 11-member team will serve over 200 individuals by the end of the mission.