Ever since Live Smart Pharmacy opened at 61st Street and JFK Blvd. a year ago in July, owner Quinee Patel has worked to provide North Bergen residents with free educational seminars, medical consultations, and presentations around town at fairs, schools, and senior buildings.
The events came out of an impromptu meeting up, during the pharmacy's ribbon-cutting ceremony last year, between Patel and local Health Department head Janet Castro.
Castro said she wanted to work with the pharmacy on immunizations, and the pair started planning.
That August, Patel and the department conducted a joint presentation on immunizations at the North Bergen Uptown Library. That same month, Patel also conducted a medication safety presentation at the Active Day of North Bergen senior center.
In September 2017 the pharmacy set up a table at the Brain Health and Wellness Fair, held in Braddock Park.
Patel has given free safety presentations and educational talks at all three senior complexes in town.
She’s also taken extra steps in helping local residents with their health. Her pharmacy offers free blood pressure checks. After promoting the free checks at the Wellness Fair, some participants came back to Patel's pharmacy for follow-up blood pressure screenings.
There, Patel spoke to them about lifestyle modifications, like including low-sodium, high-fiber diets and 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week.
Another free service Patel offers is medication consultation. She helps people set up their medication pill boxes for weekly or monthly doses.
“Medication can get pretty confusing, especially when some elderly are on 20 to 30 medications,” Patel said. She also consults people on when it is best to take certain medications (e.g. 30 minutes before a meal, or one hour afterwards) and their specific side effects. The pharmacy also has free delivery for medications. And when she's closed for the day, Patel offers to personally visit her patients to help organize their pill boxes, if they cannot come to her.
“I try my best to help,” she said.
“I've made a difference in many patients' lives.” – Quinee Patel
Battling the flu
After a 6-year-old North Bergen girl died from the flu in February (see “Girl dies from flu-like symptoms,” Feb 18), Patel came up with an idea to hold germ awareness presentations in the town public schools.
She contacted Castro. After some back and forth, she launched “Your Health is in Your Hands” with the Health Department.
The first two presentations took place at Horace Mann Elementary and the Robert Fulton Annex Schools, in April and May. “The subject is important to address,” Patel said.
Each seminar educates kids on how to avoid the flu and spreading germs. The students learned how to properly wash their hands and for how long. According to Patel, that's something many adults don't even know how to do.
Since the talks are geared at kids, Patel purposely did not get into how to treat fever, as she feels it is best for an older audience. “If their parents were to come to me, I could give my opinions as a health professional,” she said.
Patel plans on bringing the program to older students this fall.
For the summer months, Patel wants to hold more education programs with local seniors. Because flu season can start as early as the end of August, she wants to raise more awareness about immunizing the elderly.
A family atmosphere
Patel's biggest hope for her pharmacy is fostering a local, mom-and-pop-esque feel. “The Walgreens across the street, they're great, too,” she said. But “I know every single one of my patients by name. Our goal is to do more hands on-things in the future.”
One of those things could be a walk around town with her patients, she said. “Not only seniors, but everybody,” she said.
Patel, who lives in Guttenberg, said she realized that getting used to running a local business take time. “It's not a sprint, it's a marathon,” she said. “I've made a difference in many patients' lives.”
Hannington Dia can be reached at email@example.com