The best of pharmacy: APhA Foundation presents annual Pinnacle Awards

The pharmacy community gathered at APhA headquarters in Washington, DC, on September 16, 2019, for the APhA Foundation’s 22nd annual Pinnacle Awards. The Pinnacle Awards celebrate significant contributions to the medication use process. Recipients in three categories each receive a crystal eagle statuette to signify their accomplishments.

The 2019 honorees were Rosemary Gibson, MS, author and senior advisor at the Hastings Center; Premise Health, a direct health care company that operates health and wellness centers for large organizations, including many in the Fortune 1000; and the Norton Sound Region Children’s Coalition, an initiative aimed at boosting immunization rates and reducing preventable diseases in a remote area of Alaska.

In her welcoming remarks, APhA Foundation Executive Director and APhA Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Keyes, RPh, referred to the awards program’s history with more than 50 individual and group recipients. “Tonight, we’ll add three more shining examples to the roster of Pinnacle Award recipients leading the way to improved medication use and health care outcomes,” she said.

APhA President Brad Tice, PharmD, MBA, FAPhA, was on hand to congratulate the recipients. APhA Foundation President Steve Simenson, BPharm, FAPHA, DPNAP, served as lead presenter of the Pinnacle Awards and emcee for the ceremony.

Gibson, who was presented with the Individual Award for Career Achievement, is the author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, which chronicles the shift to China as a major source of America’s generic and other medicines and its impact on our health and national security, as well as Wall of Silence: The Untold Story of the Medical Mistakes that Kill and Injure Millions of Americans. She also serves as a senior advisor at the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institute based in Garrison, NY, and perspectives editor at JAMA Internal Medicine. In a previous role, Gibson led national health care quality and safety initiatives at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)—she was chief architect of RWJF’s decade-long effort to establish palliative care programs in more than 1,600 hospitals across the nation. Gibson has been honored by the American Medical Writers Association for her outstanding contributions to the public’s interest in reporting on critical health care issues.

“Serving patients is a privilege, and we have a responsibility to speak truth to power so everyone can receive good care and quality medicines—every person, every pill, every time,” Gibson told APhA staff.

Greg Baker, BSPharm, vice president of pharmacy at Premise Health, accepted the Group Practice Award on behalf of his organization.

Brentwood, TN–based Premise Health provides onsite, near-site, and 24/7 virtual care to employees—referred to as members—of companies that contract with them. Its employer clients, who include several Fortune 1000 companies, can customize services to meet their organization’s specific needs. Premise pharmacists and technicians are trained to deploy wellness coaching techniques that support patients in their health goals, and shared electronic health records streamline care, create opportunities for collaboration, and facilitate the monitoring of clinical performance and adverse medication effects.

“We’re very proud of our innovative pharmacy model at Premise Health, and to be recognized for our efforts with the Pinnacle Award is exciting and humbling,” Baker said. “Our team members work hard every day to ensure our patients receive compassionate, seamless pharmacy care—we wouldn’t be able to drive change in the health care industry without them.”

This year’s Pinnacle Award for Voluntary Health Agencies, Nonprofit Organizations, Associations, Government Agencies, and Public–Private Partnerships was presented to the Norton Sound Region Children’s Coalition in Alaska, an initiative focused on educating parents and communities on immunization and overcoming myths and misperceptions about vaccines. The coalition’s pharmacists, physicians, nurses, and community health aides see pediatric patients for well-child visits and immunizations in a remote area of the state.

The Norton Sound Health Corporation (NSHC) provides health care services to Nome, AK—where the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ends—and 15 surrounding village communities that make up the snowbound Norton Sound Region. In 2012, with its first pharmacist-driven collaborative agreement, NSHC pharmacists started vaccinating adult patients with influenza, pneumococcal, and zoster vaccines. In 2017, the team expanded its reach to include any vaccine for any age group. With physician buy-in, innovation in reducing barriers to care, and passionate advocacy for necessary childhood vaccines, the team increased completed vaccination series rates from 24% to 47%, saw more than 70 children, and administered 212 vaccinations in the village community of Shishmaref.

Heather Bailey Lefebvre, PharmD, MSCR, MBA, NSHC’s director of pharmacy, and Kylea Goff, PharmD, NSHC’s assistant director of pharmacy, accepted the award on behalf of the agency.

“Starting with one village and a small goal of increasing vaccination rates turned into constant brainstorming and process improvement for our region. This wasn’t an easy feat considering the we had to travel in small passenger planes to serve an area roughly the size of Ohio,” said Lefebvre. “We are so thankful to be able to take recognition home to our region.”

On September 17, Gibson delivered a lecture, Our Medicine Chest, as featured guest speaker at the Pinnacle Awards Innovations in Pharmacy Practice Lecture held at APhA headquarters.

The Pinnacle Awards were provided premier support by an independent grant from Merck.