CU pharm students serving disadvantaged community

CEDARVILLE — Two schools of pharmacy, separated by more than 1,000 miles — one in the heartland of Ohio, the other on the Florida coast — will join forces to care for an underserved Florida community.

A group of 16 students from Cedarville University and Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) schools of pharmacy, along with PBA faculty, are offering healthcare services to Belle Glade through June 22. Among the Cedarville students are Katie Miller; Michael Stouffer; Emily Bruce; Jenna Stearns; Jared Vega; Julia Gardner; Camille Owens; and Anita Ampong.

Cedarville University’s and PBA’s professional pharmacy students will host a children’s community health fair, hold a brown bag event for seniors providing medication reviews and counseling, as well as conduct blood pressure and blood glucose screenings. The group will also serve at a local food pantry and the Belle Glade Life Center, a local church that serves the surrounding community.

The Belle Glade missions trip is a first-time partnership for Cedarville and PBA, borne out of a faculty connection. Jeff Lewis, dean of PBA’s school of pharmacy and professor of pharmacy practice, is the former assistant dean for Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy.

“I am incredibly encouraged by the budding PBA-Cedarville University medical missions partnership,” Lewis said. “I can’t wait to see how the partnership will grow in the coming years as we continue to pursue excellence in Christ-first pharmacy education.”

Belle Glade suffers from intense poverty, with approximately 40 percent of the population living below the poverty line, according to Jacob Hawk, coordinator for the Gregory Center for Medical Missions at PBA.

“The unemployment rate in Belle Glade is four times higher than the national average, and only 10 percent of the population has a college education,” he said. “The medical needs are severe in Belle Glade, with one of the highest rates of AIDS per capita.”

The students will gain valuable health care experience, but more importantly, they will gain a deeper understanding of compassion and service as they demonstrate God’s love in the community.

“Coming together to serve the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of an underserved community is critical to being the hands and feet of Jesus,” said Cindy Burban, Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy director of community engagement. “In considering the needs of others, students will be serving with Christ-like compassion, and stretching beyond their comfort zones.”

Added Owens, “God has granted me this wonderful opportunity to teach and learn from others. I look forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with those in Belle Glade.”

Cedarville University’s School of Pharmacy is investigating further domestic cross-cultural medical missions trips with PBA in the future.

“We are extremely excited to have pharmacy students from two Christian universities serving alongside each other,” Hawk said. “We also hope that the difficult arena of medical missions will forge lasting friendships and a deeper faith for all of our participating students.”