First Walgreens on Big Island helps support UH Hilo College of Pharmacy

April 19, 2011

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Pharmacy received a $10,000 gift at the grand opening and blessing ceremony for the first Walgreens on the Big Island April 17. Second- and third-year students also participated in the event by offering free blood pressure checks to all participants.

“Walgreens has been an avid supporter of our College, both in working with students in stores in other locations and by helping with various funding, including a $50,000 pledge to help us with our new building,” said Dean John M. Pezzuto as he accepted the check. “We’re happy to welcome them to the island.”

Several dignitaries from Walgreens attended the ceremony, which also included a traditional Hawaiian blessing. Walgreens personnel included William Hose, market vice president of operations and Nancy Huang, Hawaiʻi district pharmacy supervisor from Honolulu. Kermit Crawford, president of Walgreens pharmacy, health and wellness division based in Deerfield, IL, remarked about the need for pharmacy services to residents of the Big Island.

“Pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals,” he said. “We want to make sure they continue to have opportunities to learn. I want to thank Dean John Pezzuto for fostering the school here.”

Liz Heffernan, director of student services for the College of Pharmacy, was on hand to thank Walgreens for an earlier gift of $10,000 that was given to the College to help fund a diversity initiative. The gift was used to help support a trip to Molokaʻi for 18 students along with two staff, so the students could experience the cultural implications of Hansen’s disease in Hawaiʻi.

“Our students were able to see how a culture has handled a health care issue in a way that no other pharmacy students on the mainland have, and we’re grateful to Walgreens for giving us the chance to offer this amazing learning experience,” said Heffernan.

This is the third year Walgreens has chosen to include the College of Pharmacy as part of its national commitment to donate $1 million annually toward diversity initiatives at all of the more than 100 pharmacy schools nationwide.

The College of Pharmacy was officially launched in 2007 and was awarded candidate accreditation status by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education in July 2008. The College will be eligible for full accreditation when its first class of students graduates on May 14.

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