URI honors late pharmacy alumnus who saved a life

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KINGSTON, R.I. — May 8, 2006 — The University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy has named its physical assessment workshop in memory of an alumnus who saved the life a woman in the midst of a stroke.

During recent ceremonies at the College that launched this spring’s assessment workshop, Pharmacy Dean Donald E. Letendre announced that it would now be called the Adam J. Mendelson, Pharm D. Physical Assessment Workshop.

Mendelson, who died about six months after graduation from URI in 2002, worked in the Tiogue Avenue Brooks Pharmacy in Coventry when a woman came in complaining of a severe headache.

“Adam asked the woman to sit down and because of his training, he took her blood pressure and noticed that it was very high,” Letendre said. “He asked her to remain seated, took her blood pressure again, and then calmly called 911.”

At the hospital, the woman was treated for a mild stroke and recovered. “Adam’s assessment skills and quick action saved the woman’s life,” Letendre said.

A plaque to be mounted in the College reads: “In memory of Dr. Adam J. Mendelson, a dedicated professional who valued the skills he learned here at the College of Pharmacy, and who brought these skills to his workplace.”

Cathy Alvarez, manager of the Patient Care Center for Brooks, was Mendelson’s supervisor for a year-and-a-half.

“I remember that day because it was a Sunday and Adam always worked on Sundays,” said Alvarez, a 1976 URI pharmacy graduate. “I was filling prescriptions and Adam was at the counter and he could see the patient was having trouble. He went out and sat with her, talked with her and remained calm through it all.”

dam’s father, Martin Mendelson, was moved by the ceremony. “To have this whole program dedicated to my son is outstanding. You couldn’t do anything nicer,” the North Kingstown resident said.

“Adam was so determined to become a pharmacist and to make a difference in people’s lives,” said his mother, Carolyn Mendelson of Warwick. “He had to work extra hard to achieve and he was always studying. When a child dies, parents all wish that others could have known him. And usually, the influence and memories remain only with the family. But Adam took the knowledge from this class, noticed this woman’s needs. Now, his legacy will influence other young pharmacy students.”

Celia MacDonnell, URI assistant clinical professor of pharmacy, who helped spearhead the effort to name the assessment program in Mendelson’s honor said, “We had students in the assessment program attend the ceremonies because we wanted them to know how important these skills are. Some might think they are not related, but they are going to use them in their careers. Adam valued these skills and because of that he saved a woman’s life.”

This year’s assessment program ran three days this spring and involved 86 fifth-year students pursing their six-year doctor of pharmacy degrees. The students evaluated 23 patients with chronic illnesses, assessing their blood pressures and pulses. They also listened to the patients’ breathing, completed foot exams for patients with diabetes and probed for evidence of skin cancer. A skills instructor was paired with each student team.

Because Brooks Pharmacy sponsors the program and supplies students with stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs they can keep, the College presented Brooks officials with a plaque for their support.

GRADUATION DAY: The late Adam J. Mendelson is all smiles after earning his doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Rhode Island in 2002. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Mendelson.