For some, stopping by the wellness screening station set up in front of the floral display at the Ravenna Giant Eagle is a weekly ritual. Others on a recent Wednesday were discovering for the first time that they can have their blood pressure and blood glucose levels tested—for free!—by Daniel Krinsky, R.Ph., associate professor of pharmacy practice at NEOMED, and his second-year College of Pharmacy students on rotation at the Giant Eagle in Ravenna, Ohio. For nearly a decade, Krinsky (pictured far left in group photo) has created a welcoming environment, three Wednesdays a month, where he and his students provide locals with free readings, health pointers, and friendly conversation to boot.
“It’s a great way to reach out to the community and give students a different perspective on interacting with patients. And it’s fun,” says Krinsky, who is better known by “Dan K., pharmacist” on his name tag. Rootstown/Ravenna native Matt Chionchio is a familiar face to the grocery store staff and Krinsky. The 89-year-old meets his buddies for coffee at the store every morning. Once Krinsky and the students set up their NEOMED wellness screening table for business, Chionchio (pictured to the right) shuffles over to banter with them.
He confides on this visit that he had eaten three cookies that morning before having his glucose levels tested.
“Dan’s a good guy: You ask him a question, you feel like you’re getting the truth,” says Chionchio, who keeps a hand in commercial real estate sales.
Second-year College of Pharmacy students Colleen Miller (pictured far right in group photo) and Dana Webb (pictured second from left in group photo) spend three Wednesdays a month with Krinsky, learning how to screen patients. Part of the education is in observing their affable professor’s low-key way of asking questions. Krinsky has a way of getting to know his customers to the point that they trust and value his insights. Whether he is teasingly guessing a longtime patient’s test results, or listening to how his week has gone, he is fostering relationships—something primary care physicians may not have time to do, and something he knows that patients value.
“Professor Krinsky gives us lots of opportunities to interact with patients. If they’re looking lost in the OTC section of the pharmacy, we ask if they need help,’’ says Miller. She is impressed with how well her professor remembers details about his patients’ lives and health habits—and follows up to gently coach them. She hopes for a career in community pharmacy, preferably in a smaller place like Ravenna.
Shortly after Chionchio wraps up his visit, a curious passer-by, Mary McMurray, stops by the wellness screening table and gets into an in-depth discussion with Miller (pictured above, having her blood pressure checked). It was McMurray’s first time having her blood pressure and glucose levels tested by the College of Pharmacy students, but she didn’t miss a beat in starting a conversation. A telephone operator during the Vietnam War, a long-time educator in Akron Public Schools, and now a retired substitute teacher, McMurray said she always takes time to ask “Why?” McMurray was glad to discover the wellness screenings, noting, “It’s a safe, open place.”
Why else are the free NEOMED screenings helpful to Chionchio, McMurray and their community? Not only is it helpful for anybody to have a baseline knowledge of their levels, says Krinsky: Those unhurried conversations also help the pharmacist get to know the lives their patients are living. As he puts it, “You’ve got to give people a chance to tell you what’s going on.”