LAKEWOOD RANCH -- As a pharmacy student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lakewood Ranch, Momammed Abdulwahhab knows if a person has 126 milligrams or more of glucose per deciliter (mg/dl) in their blood after not eating for 12 hours he or she is probably diabetic.
But the man standing before Abdulwahhab at Turning Points in Bradenton on Feb. 19, where LECOM students had set up free health screenings, had just tested over 600 mg/dl.
Abdulwahhab helped arrange an immediate visit to a local hospital emergency room for the patient, whose diabetes was out of control.
"He could have died," Abdulwahhab said Monday. "He said he only takes his medicine when he feels sick. I explained to him that taking medicine only when you are sick is not an option. It must be taken consistently."
The free health screenings at Turning Points were repeated at various Bradenton sites as part of the LECOM's involvement in a national challenge during the month of February among 50 pharmacy schools to see which schools could best come up with strategies to encourage people to observe adherence to their medications.
LECOM ended up winning The National Team Award and the Creative Inter Professional Team Event Award in the competition, called the 2014 National Consumers League "Script Your Future" Medication Adherence Team Challenge.
"We are extremely excited to announce that this is the third year the competition has been held and LECOM has been recognized each year," Dr. Julie Wilkinson, Associate Dean of LECOM's School of Pharmacy, announced at a celebratory press conference at LECOM/Lakewood Ranch Monday.
Bella Mogaka, LECOM School of Pharmacy Student Government Association 2nd Vice President, called the competition "eye-opening."
"We realized that solving the problem of medication adherence will take an interdisciplinary approach, with providers all working together," Mogaka said.
LECOM students and their collegues at LECOM in Erie took to social media, including Facebook, to get their message out about medication adherence and 11 organizations on the LECOM campus made the issue a focal point, said Revika Matuknauth, School of Pharmacy Student Government Treasurer.
Besides Turning Points, LECOM students from Lakewood Ranch spoke to attendees at the DeSoto Heritage Festival about diabetes and gave a medication adherence presentation at Covenant Sanctuary Church in Bradenton.
They also set up four stations, each with blood pressure and blood glucose testing and medication counseling, and saw 267 people at the Red Barn Flea Market & Plaza on First Street in Bradenton
LECOM pharmacy student Kenneth Gordon won The United States Public Service's Excellence Award for Public Service as a result of the competition, Wilkinson added.
"The leading drivers of early death, disability and costs of healthcare in our country are chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure," Wilkinson said. "Taking daily medications keeps patients healthy longer and decreases the need for surgeries and hospitalizations, but only if they are taken correctly and consistently."
Said third year LECOM pharmacy student Bryan Davidson of what the Challenge taught him: "One of the most overlooked, yet important parts of effective healthcare is medication adherence. Whether by accident or due to unnoticeable, controlled symptoms, it is very easy for patients to fall victim to missed doses of medicine."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.