As the Community Director at the Arnold & Marie Schwartz, College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, Eva Berrios-Colon, PharmD, MPH, BCPS has a heart for serving the often forgotten. She works with pharmacy students in providing New York City’s underserved communities with tools to better manage their health.
“There’s not always much attention given to these populations. It’s important to take care of them from a humanistic and public health perspective.”
Dr. Berrios-Colon began her career as a Clinical Pharmacist working in an Ambulatory Care setting in Brooklyn. She pursued additional training during her practice years by obtaining a Master of Public Health (MPh). The MPh degree helped her better understand that many communities didn’t always have access to existing healthcare.
“We have been working to try to decrease health disparities in New York City,” said Dr. Berrios-Colon.
Through Dr. Berrios-Colon’s department at LIU, community members have received medical information and services like influenza vaccines, medication pillboxes, asthma medication holding chambers and peak flow meters, free of cost.
“We hope our contributions will improve patient health. We are committed to achieving the highest level of health for all,” Dr. Berrios-Colon said.
Culture Aligns with Purpose
Dr. Eva Berrios-Colon brings a unique perspective to her community as a Latina with roots in Puerto Rico and Bolivia. Her parents never had an opportunity for higher education. However, they instilled in her that education was the key and pushed their daughter to attain a professional degree.
“My mother was a big motivator for my success and perseverance, knowing she sacrificed so much for me made me work harder.”
In pharmacy and healthcare Dr. Berrios-Colon expressed the benefits of cultural and gender-based diversity.
“As a Latina there’s something unique that I bring to the table. I think increased representation of minority groups in pharmacy and pharmacy leadership is important to tackle issues that affect these communities directly. It’s important to have more Latinos and African-Americans in pharmacy especially because much of the population that we serve is African-American and Latino in the city,” said Dr. Berrios-Colon.
A Heart for Community
We asked Dr. Berrios-Colon what she enjoyed the most about her work and we were inspired by her response.
“I love working with the community. I like to work with the disenfranchised. The places I like to go is to the federal jail, the shelter, the street corner where the migrants are looking for work, on the outskirts of society.” Dr. Berrios-Colon said. “They need help. These community members will eventually make their way into emergency rooms if they do not get the help they need and ultimately everyone pays for that."
Dr. Berrios-Colon along with pharmacy students at LIU also have begun a Senior Inmate Educational Series with the federal prison in Brooklyn. They prepare older inmates who potentially may be released, to make healthy choices, increase physical activity and they also answer questions they may have about medications.
“When my students participate in these community activities, they begin to understand the immense responsibility they will have as a pharmacist and healthcare provider. They start to see what they are learning in the classroom from a different perspective,” said Dr. Berrios-Colon.
Thank you Dr. Berrios-Colon for all you do for your community and the inspiration you bring to your students and to pharmacy overall.
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