A pharmacist's look at the supermarket and beyond

Month: December 2015

Seize the Day

About a week ago I was on my way to our store’s deli to get some lunch. As I passed by the front cash register area there was some frantic rushing about as employees noticed an elderly lady in apparent distress. Her companion, also an elderly lady, stated, “She is having a seizure.” Several people, myself included, rushed to aid her. Several shouted to call 911. The patient said, “No, don’t! This is my life.”
The lady was upright, holding onto her cart the whole time and appeared to be having a seizure similar to my daughter’s, although this patient did exhibit some mild muscle contractions.
I introduced myself to her as a pharmacist and the father of a girl with epilepsy. I told the other employees NOT to call 911, that I would stay with her and make sure she was OK. By then she was quite lucid and again stated that this is life for her. She has seizures. They are brief and not nearly as disruptive to her life as a herd of EMTs and her day interrupted for more than the 20 seconds of seizure.
I took her to sit down at our Starbucks and we chatted for a bit before I got a bagger to help both ladies with their groceries.
Today she stopped by the pharmacy to express her thanks. She has been in situations when 911 was called and it just ruined her day.
She, like my daughter, knows how to live with her condition and appreciated an understanding soul. candy “Thank God you were there,” she said and gave me this box of sweets. I accepted graciously and told her I was very happy to help.
There are over two million people living with epilepsy in the United States, 65 million worldwide. About a third of those people have uncontrolled epilepsy, meaning they may have a seizure at any time, although intensity and frequency vary by patient and innumerable precipitating factors. For the majority patients, the cause of their epilepsy is unknown.
Think about that. Consider what your life would be like if you had to live with this condition. For the patients that I know, including family members, epilepsy is a big pain in the ass. Yet they live their lives as fully as you or I. When their daily activities are interrupted by a seizure, most patients prefer to continue with their day. Of course, some seizures are severe and require a longer recovery period. Please take the time to follow this link and learn what to do if you are nearby when a person has a seizure. Notice a few key points: remain calm, time the seizure (most seizures are brief), usually, you would only call 911 if the seizure exceeds 5 minutes in length.
People suffer all kinds of medical and psychological disorders. Knowledge is power. I was fortunate to be present for this lady’s seizure episode and have my pharmacy background and family experiences to offer aid without overreacting. In a different situation, somebody else might have better knowledge than I, in which case I would defer to that expertise.
Whatever the situation, remain calm so that you can think clearly, engage the patient if possible, and LISTEN to the patient, then proceed accordingly.


It was a distinct pleasure to have the opportunity to write this profile of one of Arizona’s great pharmacists, my friend and colleague. Hal Wand… (Appearing in the Winter 2015 Arizona Journal of Pharmacy)

Pharmacists have many different ideas of what retirement should look like. There may be time for new and old hobbies, domestic and foreign travel, checking off bucket list items, and plenty of leisure. For Hal Wand, retirement from the Arizona Board of Pharmacy after 26 years of service means continued dedication to our profession, with many of those retirement goals still possible, including fun times rolling along in the Airstream. In 2003, Hal became the Executive Director of the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy (ASBP) and his leadership has created one of the best pharmacy practice environments in the world.
Always true to the mission of protecting the patients, Hal’s positive and progressive vision has always forged partnerships that include patients, pharmacists, other health care providers and the ASBP. That vision maintains the public safety aspect of the Board’s mission, while its enforcement is reasonable and judicious. Hal has said many times, “We want results that are a win for everybody.” That attitude has helped make Arizona a leader in pharmacy practice and has attracted many companies that appreciate a regulatory climate that fosters innovation.
In his “retirement”, Hal continues to serve the profession as President-elect of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Some readers might not realize that the NABP isinternational, with member boards from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and US territories. As President, Hal will continue to work with other boards to ensure safe and effective models for pharmacy in a wide variety of practice settings in many parts of the world. As more pharmacy businesses expand globally, it is essential that NABP continues to be a lead regulatory architect of patient-focused pharmaceutical care.
Carmen Catizone, Executive Director of the NABP, who has known and worked with Hal for over 20 years, has a deep appreciation for Hal’s thoughtful approach to leadership. Director Catizone indicated that he relies on Hal and his “open and innovative approach to finding solutions,” and looks forward to Hal’s year as President of NABP when he will be “the face of the NABP” in this important time for pharmacy here at home and around the world. Carmen believes that he has convinced Hal that there is another worthy baseball team in Chicago other than his beloved Cubs, but that was not confirmed by Hal.
Hal’s continuing journey has been one of significant accomplishments beginning with a degree in Biology from Cal State Northridge followed by graduation from the University of Arizona pharmacy program in 1979. Choosing the U of A College of Pharmacy (COP) was fortuitous for Hal, the college, and the state of Arizona. It was there that Hal discovered that being director of the ASBP was his career goal and where he became a true Wildcat, strong supporter of the University as a sports fan, and the COP as a pharmacy advocate. Love blossomed between Hal and, U of A alumna and pharmacist, Marilyn Fruth, when working together at Phoenix Baptist. They married in 1977 and are living happily ever after.
Hal Wand loves pharmacy and continues to serve the profession with his wisdom, compassion, integrity, and leadership. He is truly one of pharmacy’s pioneers and his dedication and love are demonstrated in words and deeds.