East Hawaii News

UH-Hilo College of Pharmacy Receives $14M grant

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The University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy announced today that it received a $14.3 million federal grant to develop a pharmacist-care system designed to reduce medication-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

The three-year project, called Pharm2Pharm, will be coordinated at CoP’s Center for Rural Health Science. It will save more than $27.1 million in health care costs throughout the state.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today in Illinois that CoP was receiving the national award.

“This project gives us the ability to reach out to thousands of Hawaii residents and improve health care,” said Dean John M. Pezzuto.


“On a national level, the College of Pharmacy competed successfully against more than 3,000 other highly qualified applicants for this funding.”

The College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo is the only fully accredited school of pharmacy in the Pacific region.

Pharm2Pharm is designed to reduce medication-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits by establishing teamwork between hospital and community pharmacists. It will affect all three rural counties in the state, including Hawaii Island, Maui and Kauai.


“Charges for medication-related hospitalizations and ER visits among the elderly in rural counties of Hawaii add up to about $60 million per year,” said Pellegrin, who also is CoP’s Director of Continuing/Distance Education and Strategic Planning. “We believe that by advancing the role of the community pharmacist and improving collaboration and communication with hospital pharmacists, we can lower those costs and improve patient care.

“We can increase the chances of patients staying healthy after a hospital visit by raising the visibility and effectiveness of both community and hospital pharmacists as members of a health care team,” Pellegrin said.

Hospital partners for the project are Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which operates the only acute care hospital in Kona and Hilo.


Community pharmacy partners from Hawaii Island include: Shiigi Drug Company, Ululani Pharmacy, Kamehameha Pharmacy, Oshima Store, Menehune Pharmacy, Lifeway Pharmacy-Waimea and KTA Pharmacies.

Registered Pharmacist Les Krenk, founding officer of the Hawaii Community Pharmacist Association and partner and co-founder of the CoP Rural Pharmacy Residency program, said that involvement of these pharmacy partners is a strong show of support for the college, the Pharm2Pharm program, and the community.

“I personally know many pharmacists who welcome the opportunities this program presents,” Krenk said. “We’re already on the front line with the patients to help them combat whatever disease they face, but our skills are underutilized. The real winner here will be the patients, thanks to support provided by Pharm2Pharm.”

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