Top of the profession: Pinnacle Awards celebrated

Awardees in three categories honored by APhA Foundation.


The APhA Foundation’s 2012 Pinnacle Awards in three categories were presented in an elegant evening ceremony on the Potomac View Terrace at APhA headquarters on June 25.

This year marked the 15th celebration of the Foundation’s Pinnacle Awards program. Jeff Jellin, PharmD, President, Therapeutic Research Center, won the Individual Award for Career Achievement. Walgreen Company Immunization Services was honored with the Group Practice–Health System–Corporation Award. The Government Agency–Nonprofit Organization–Association Award went to a project involving collaboration among the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, the Connecticut Pharmacists Association, and the Connecticut Department of Social Services. Premier support for the celebration was provided by Merck and support was also provided by an educational donation from Amgen.

The 2012 awardees are “shining examples of those leading the way,” said Mindy Smith, BSPharm, APhA Foundation Executive Director, in her welcoming remarks. Added Jenelle Sobotka, PharmD, FAPhA, APhA President, during her turn at the lectern, “the state of the profession is strong” despite the “challenging times.”

Dan Luce, BSPharm, President of the APhA Foundation Board of Directors, served as the night’s emcee. Luce presented crystal eagles to the award recipients present, representing the innovative practices that celebrate contributions to medication use processes and improving patient outcomes.

During a short video about Jellin, that pharmacist said, “Most pharmacists typically undervalue their potential contributions to patient care.” Jellin spoke of helping his fellow pharmacists to “change their mindset.”

For Walgreen Company Immunization Services, Suzanne Hansen, BSPharm, Group Vice President of Pharmacy Operations, Walgreens, accepted the award after another short video showcasing Walgreens’s deserving immunization program. Hansen explained that her company has more than 26,000 immunizing pharmacists and cited her company’s Well Experience stores and food oasis stores in underserved communities.

“We all know the importance of the pharmacist–patient relationship,” Hansen said. “Immunizations to date have been the biggest driver of the transformation [of the profession] we’ve seen.”

Marghie Guiliano, BSPharm, Executive Vice President, Connecticut Pharmacists Association (CPA), spoke for the Connecticut group after their video. Also receiving a Pinnacle Award were Marie Smith, PharmD, Henry A. Palmer Endowed Professor in Community Pharmacy Practice and Assistant Dean at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, and Michael Starkowski, the former Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services.

The three were coauthors of an April 2011 Health Affairs paper describing findings from an 11-month CMS demonstration project in their state. For the project, an existing network of CPA pharmacists provided direct patient care for Connecticut Medicaid beneficiaries in the offices of their primary care provider; not only did the pharmacists identify 917 drug therapy problems and resolve almost 80% of them in four or fewer visits, but savings in medication and health care spending exceeded pharmacist and administrative costs by approximately 2.5 times.

“Connecticut may be a small state, but we have larger-than-life expectations,” Giuliano said.

Concluding the ceremony, Luce charged the pharmacists in attendance to actively collaborate to enhance the pharmacy profession. The recipients are shining examples of how pharmacists’ collaborations and innovative efforts can improve the pharmacy profession, he said. “We can do this.”