Alumni, students and staff help deliver life-saving medications on Maui
September 18, 2023
When wildfires swept through Lahaina in August, they destroyed most of the homes and many businesses in the Maui community of 12,000 people. The buildings housing its two pharmacies were spared, but the businesses had to close, temporarily, leaving nowhere for wildfire survivors to get access to necessary medications.
Within a day of the fire, the staff of Mauliola Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy based in Wailuku, stepped up to fill the void. Lead by owner and pharmacist Dr. Cory Lehano, the staff of fewer than 20 worked with emergency responders to help impacted residents get refills of their critical medications for conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular health and mental health, to name a few, in many cases filling those prescriptions for free.
Lehano, who was honored in 2022 as the DKICP Preceptor of the Year for his dedication to hosting and training student pharmacists on rotations, was quick to welcome help from DKICP students and staff. He already employs several alumni, including Dr. Vy Tran (Class of 2016) and Dr. Shane Naeole (Class of 2021) at Mauliola’s two locations.
Dr. Trisha Nobriga (Class of 2022), who in July just finished her PGY1 residency at the VA Medical Center in Walla Walla, WA, but had worked with Lehano on one of her APPE rotations, came to help. Maui residents and current DKICP students Tyler Caliva and Jarod Hanchett-Ching also came to do what they could.
“That first weekend after the fire, Tyler and I helped out in Wailuku as couriers, carrying bags of filled prescriptions from Mauliola’s main location near Maui Memorial Medical Center across the highway to the War Memorial Complex where emergency services were being offered,” Hanchett-Ching explains. “There, residents could pick up their prescriptions or see a doctor who could write new prescriptions for them, which we then carried back to the pharmacy to be filled.
“The work going on there was really valuable – bringing important resources to people displaced from all their worldly possessions, and helping to minimize their struggles a bit by providing comfort and a little convenience for them,” he says.
Hanchett-Ching also volunteered with the Hawaii Red Cross there in Wailuku, doing whatever needed to be done, until he had to return to Hilo for the start of classes the following weekend.
Christina (Method) Requelman, DKICP clinical education support specialist and certified pharmacy technician, accompanied DKICP alum Dr. Elissa Brown (Class of 2011) to Maui to support Mauliola staff for a couple days during the hectic first week of emergency response. Brown, who works as pharmacy manager at KTA’s Puainako Store in Hilo, is a Lahaina native, who’s family lost their home to the fire.
“We have a good relationship with many of the Mauliola staff, and had just spent time with some of them at a pharmacy conference the weekend before the wildfire,” recalls Requelman. “In the days after the fire, I kept reaching out to them to see how they were doing and if there was anything we could do to help. I offered to see if any students on Maui were willing to help, and they quickly accepted, since the staff there was understandably overwhelmed by the demand. Then I offered to come, and was able to make that work with Elissa. They were putting in long hours, filling hundreds of prescriptions a day.”
Pharmacy staff was also providing first aid supplies to help treat burns and skin infections, and offering COVID tests.
“Dr. Lehano and his entire staff have helped so many people in their community during this tragedy,” she says. “They are a perfect example of the important role pharmacies and pharmacists can play during an emergency.”
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