Two URI pharmacy professors part of team established to prevent pneumonia outbreaks at Warwick school

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KINGSTON, R.I. – February 1, 2007 –Two University of Rhode Island clinical assistant professors of pharmacy advised patients and distributed antibiotics in January at a Warwick elementary school clinic set up by the state’s health department.

The state Department of Health called on Jeffrey Bratberg and Brett Feret, to be part of a team set up at the Greenwood Elementary School during New Year’s weekend. The clinic was put into operation after three cases of mycoplasma pneumonia led to serious illness in three children in Warwick and West Warwick, one of whom died Dec. 21. The clinic distributed the antibiotic, azithromycin, to 1,200 patients in three days. The pharmacy team constituted liquid suspension versions of the drug for 150 children. Feret worked Dec. 31 and Jan. 2, while Bratberg worked Jan. 2.

The Cranston residents’ involvement with the health department clinic was a natural extension of a relationship that started five years ago when they became pharmacy consultants to the state on bioterrorism and emergency response. In that capacity, they were involved in developing a planning guide for mass distributions of medication.

In addition, Bratberg served twice in New Orleans as a member of a state medical disaster relief team following Hurricane Katrina. Feret and Bratberg were also involved in a clinic simulation set up at URI in response to a mock bioterrorism attack.

“We started doing seminars for the health department when it decided to add five pharmacists to their response team,” Feret said. “We have been trained by the federal Centers for Disease Control to acquire expertise in emergency medication dispensing.”

The other members of the team who worked the Warwick clinic are: Greg Lowe, who earned his doctorate in pharmacy from URI; Megan Sliney, a CVS pharmacist and chief pharmacist of the RI-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team and Jennifer Galli, a member of the disaster team and a pharmacist at Women and Infants’ Hospital. Sliney and Galli are graduates of URI’s College of Pharmacy.

“Overall, the clinic went smoothly,” Feret said. “All the paperwork was straightforward and easy to fill out, and the process of swabbing throats was efficient.”

“People were very satisfied with the information, and they were familiar with the drug, so drug counseling went well too,” Bratberg said.

The pharmacists distributed medicine to all members of the school community who requested it — students, teachers, parents, siblings and grandparents. “Those who lived with the students or who were in close contact with them could participate in the clinic,” Feret said.

In addition, families were kept together during the process so forms could be filled out quickly and questions answered at one time.

Bratberg said planning was the key to the success of the clinic. “I was in my hometown for the holidays, Plainview, Minn. when I got a call Friday night of New Year’s weekend from the health department about setting up a clinic. As a team, you are always asking who is available, so I didn’t have to fly home until Monday night.”

Pictured above

ON THE SCENE: Brett Feret, left, Jeffrey Bratberg clinical assistant professors of pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island, display medications distributed during a clinic at Warwick’s Greenwood Elementary School during New Year’s weekend. URI News Bureau photo courtesy of Brett Feret and Jeffrey Bratberg.

FOR THE CLINIC: These are boxes of the medication given to the students, teachers and families at Warwick’s Greenwood Elementary School. URI News Bureau photo courtesy of Brett Feret and Jeffrey Bratberg.