Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Kush Patel was a PY4 pharmacy student on his APPE rotation with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center retail pharmacy when COVID-19 fell upon Massachusetts. On one particular day in March, Kush accompanied his preceptor Chirag Desai to the Specialty Pharmacy location. When they arrived, they found the specialty pharmacy manager, Luca Cattaneo, pacing in the pharmacy.
A patient of the specialty pharmacy had been calling and speaking with one of the specialty pharmacy technicians, Kelly Frederickson, about their missing medication. This particular patient was quarantining on Martha’s Vineyard. Movie aficionados may be familiar with Martha’s Vineyard as the setting of the movie “Jaws.” It is a small island off the coast of Massachusetts, where the only way to reach it is by ferry or plane. This patient was on oral chemotherapy and had been out of medication for the past three days. The normal refill was stalled in transit via the normal shipping methods. Luca was considering sending a replacement order out with a courier, but was unsure if even this was a reliable method to deliver the medication.
Kush has been passionate about becoming a pharmacist during all his years of training. He enjoys providing the individualized care that each patient needs. He saw a unique situation unfolding and knew that our job, as pharmacists, was to make sure the patient received the medication that they needed. As Kush was commuting from Worcester to Boston, he had a car. Kush volunteered to deliver the medication himself.
Together with Luca, Chirag, and the specialty pharmacy team, they formulated a plan to get the medication to the patient. The pharmacy filled another order of the oral chemotherapy. Chirag pulled the patient’s address and the ferry schedule for the day. Luca checked the weather and noticed a rainstorm was coming. By now it was 11 am, the ferry station was an hour away, and the last ferry back from Martha’s Vineyard was at 5 pm. Armed with the refilled medication and a borrowed rain jacket, Kush set off to the ferry. Kush was met with several obstacles along the way. The parking lot for the ferry was remote, which resulted in a 20 minute shuttle bus ride to the boat. It started to rain while he was on the ferry. The rain turned into a downpour by the time he arrived on Martha’s Vineyard.
Kush had never before been to Martha’s Vineyard, so he was unfamiliar with the island. He ran into the ferry station and explained the situation to the conductor. There were no taxis around, as this was off season, during a quarantine, in the middle of a rain storm. The conductor offered to call a friend who owned one of the taxi services, to see if he would be willing to come. If not, he offered to call the police to ask for an escort. Thankfully, after a little convincing, the owner of the taxi company arrived. The next problem they faced was finding the house. The address was a remote location. It took about an hour to locate and arrive. To get there, the taxi had to drive across several sandy areas, where the taxi’s wheels would periodically get stuck.
Eventually, though, Kush arrived at the patient’s house and was able to hand-deliver the oral chemotherapy to the very grateful patient, and begin the trek back to the ferry station. Kush arrived at the station about 30 minutes before the last ferry returned to the mainland. He arrived home, that night, around 9 pm. When recounting this experience, two themes kept emerging. The first was that this was a team effort. Kush said that he never once felt like he was alone throughout this adventure. In addition to the specialty pharmacy coming together to formulate a plan, Chirag and Luca were constantly on the phone with him, encouraging him and making sure he was safe. The second was the drive and dedication Kush felt to get the medication to the patient. He truly went beyond what was expected of the pharmacy staff, let alone a student on a rotation. Since this ordeal, Kush has graduated from MCPHS University in Worcester and has several job offers as a community pharmacist. He is home in Chicago, studying for the NAPLEX and law exams. Kush was an extraordinary intern, who accomplished a seemingly impossible task, all without needing a bigger boat.
Kush Patel, PharmD, served as a PY4 pharmacy student at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Posted April 1, 2021