‘We’ve only just begun’: Pinnacle Awards celebrated in ceremony

APhA Foundation honors three recipients

The APhA Foundation recognized Hae Mi Choe, PharmD; The Kroger Company; and El Rio Community Health Center in the 17th annual celebration of the Pinnacle Awards program at APhA headquarters on September 15.

Choe received the 2014 Individual Award for Career Achievement. The Kroger Company accepted the 2014 Group Practice–Health System–Corporation Award. The 2014 Government Agency–Nonprofit Organization–Association Award went to El Rio Community Health Center.

Demonstrating leadership

Noting the leadership demonstrated by the three awardees, APhA President Matthew Osterhaus, BSPharm, FASCP, FAPhA, said that APhA is in the midst of a provider status campaign and is encouraging pharmacists to share personal stories of their impact in the lives of patients to convey the difference that pharmacists can make on the health care team. “It’s a challenging time to be a pharmacist,” Osterhaus said in his remarks, “but also an exciting time to be a pharmacist.”

Ed Hamilton, PharmD, FAPhA, President of the APhA Foundation Board of Directors, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. He explained that Pinnacle Award winners are recognized for significant contributions and/or leadership in the improvement of quality in the medication use process and the delivery of patient-focused pharmaceutical care.

The APhA Foundation Board of Directors, the APhA Board of Trustees, the 2014 Pinnacle Awards Selection Committee, and speakers Osterhaus and Hamilton were among those introduced by Mindy Smith, BSPharm, APhA Foundation Executive Director, in her welcoming remarks.

Crystal eagles presented

Following short videos featuring each Pinnacle Award winner, Hamilton presented the awardees with a crystal eagle. Premier support for the celebration was provided by Merck, and support was also provided by an educational donation from Amgen.

“It’s nice to be at the table and collaborate with leadership to plan for pharmacist integration,” Choe said in the video preceding her remarks. A pioneer in advancing the role of pharmacists in the ambulatory care setting, Choe has developed the pharmacist’s role within the patient-centered medical home and accountable care organization models. She is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, serves as the Director of Ambulatory Care Transformation within the University of Michigan Health System’s (UMHS) Department of Pharmacy Services, and was recently appointed the Director of Pharmacy Innovations & Clinical Practices within the UMHS Faculty Group Practice (the health system’s physician group practice).

Accepting a Pinnacle Award for The Kroger Company, Clinical Services Coordinator Jim Kirby said, “We view the Pinnacle Award as the most prestigious” of all awards in the industry. Kroger’s everyday clinical services include immunizations, medication therapy management, and point of care testing/screening. Many Kroger pharmacies offer more intensive education and management programs such as diabetes and heart healthy coaching; diabetes self-management education; fitness, nutrition, and weight management; and smoking cessation. A number of pilot projects have also been implemented. “We’ve only just begun,” Kirby said.

Provider status advocacy

Accepting the Pinnacle Award for El Rio Community Health Center were Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator Kelly Boesen, PharmD, BCPS, and Medical Director Clinical Pharmacists/Broadway Clinic Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDE. El Rio is a community-based federally qualified health center and the largest provider of medical and dental services to the uninsured and Medicaid populations in Pima County, AZ. El Rio has implemented a clinical pharmacist–led diabetes disease management program since August 2001. The scope of work of the service was expanded to cover the annual wellness visits for Medicare patients for preventive services.

“This model has elevated our profession and further solidified our role on the primary care team,” Boesen said in her remarks. She noted that El Rio has been very active in provider status advocacy. Leal dedicated her Pinnacle Award to her grandmother who recently passed away. “At El Rio, every patient is like my grandmother,” she said.