NEW YORK — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation’s 19th annual dinner here last month raised $1.8 million to support evidence-based research, pharmacy education and philanthropic initiatives to improve patient outcomes and advance health. More than 100 companies and individuals sponsored the event.
The foundation is engaging in “some of the most pressing issues before us,” said Alex Gourlay, chairman of NACDS. Gourlay, who is co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and president of Walgreens, pointed to the collaborative work the foundation does on HIV and hepatitis C screening and on finding answers to the opioid abuse epidemic.
“All of us are impacted and motivated to find solutions, from the basic perspective of helping to protect our families, and our neighborhoods,” Gourlay said. He praised the significant progress the foundation has made in its focus on evidence-based research, which has been a priority for the past six years.
Dr. Umair Shah, executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health (HCPH) in Texas, received the 2017 NACDS Foundation Excellence in Patient Care Award for his exceptional work on Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts in Houston.
Under the leadership of Shah, who is president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, HCPH has also initiated innovative public-private partnerships aimed at preventing diseases — including Zika virus outbreaks and tuberculosis — through emerging technologies. This fall, his department launched a fleet of large recreational vehicles, including medical, dental, nutritional assistance, environmental health and pet adoption units, a mosquito museum, and a command center, all in an effort to take the services of the health department into the community. HCPH also initiated a Public Health Innovations Lab (PHI Lab), an emerging concept in public health practice that provides a unique space to grow, develop, expand or sustain an innovative idea in a 12-week accelerator program.
“From his start as a hospital emergency room physician to the position he holds today, Dr. Shah’s work is an inspiration … he is one of our nation’s quiet heroes of public health,” said foundation president Kathleen Jaeger. Expressing gratitude for the work of public health officials, she said, “Not only are they crucial to our efforts to innovate new models, they are also tireless advocates of health care equity, giving all members of society a fair opportunity for improved health.”