Grand Care Pharmacy gives community a boost

Amid the surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Grand Care Pharmacy in Maspeth is ready to serve the community.
“At Grand Care Pharmacy, we are giving out booster shots to eligible people of all ages and communities,” said Dr. Trevor Latchminarain, pharmacist and owner at Grand Care Pharmacy. “We vaccinate approximately 60 to 80 patients daily with the booster shots. We are so happy to see that so many people have confidence in the vaccine, while at the same time ensuring that our communities are staying safe.”
Latchminarain says patients have been eager to get their booster shots and the pharmacy has been getting positive feedback from patients.
“The only requirement for getting the booster shot is ensuring that you are within the eligible time frame to obtain it,” Latchminarain says. “If you received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, you would need to wait six months after your last dose. If you were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson, you will need to wait two months from your last dose.”
A 2009 graduate of the St. John’s School of Pharmacy, he says some have received their COVID-19 booster shot and then came back for a flu shot the following week.
“About 25 percent of the patients who received the booster shot are also taking their flu shot,” Latchminarain says. “Some are not comfortable taking both at the same time, but they do come back for both ultimately.”
Grand Care Pharmacy also offers PCR testing. The test involves a simple nasal swab, and results are returned in less than 24-hours, making it convenient for people who need a COVID test for work or travel.
“PCR testing is free to all,” Latchminarain said. “You can fill out the form at or simply walk-in.”
Grand Care Pharmacy opened in Maspeth in July of 2019. In November, Martin Luther School honored Latchminarain with the “Shot in the Arm” Award for his efforts to support the student body.
Latchminarain has provided weekly testing to the school and used their parking lot as a weekend pop-up site for testing and vaccinations.
“Trevor has been a great addition to Maspeth’s business community and a great friend to Martin Luther School,” said executive director Jim Regan. “We were honored to recognize him.”

‘Momnibus’ aims to improve maternal health among minorities

Calling out a stark discrepancy in nationwide maternal care, Senator Chuck Schumer visited Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn to stress the importance of the Black Maternal Health “Momnibus” Act.
Speaking alongside the Olori Sisterhood, Schumer outlined a two-pronged plan to combat what he calls one of the greatest health crises the country faces.
Black and Native American women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy-related causes, and black babies are twice as likely to die than white babies, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While 700 pregnancy deaths occur per year, two-thirds of them are considered preventable.
In New York City, black women have an eight times greater risk of pregnancy-related death than white women. They were also three times more likely than their white counterparts to experience severe maternal morbidity, which can include blood clots, kidney failure, stroke or heart attack.
“That should make every American hang their head in shame,” said Schumer. “We have to change it.”
Schumer says the Momnibus Act, tucked into the Build Back Better legislation, grows and diversifies the perinatal workforce, aiding hospitals with federally sponsored training on how to reduce maternal mortality.
A handful of community-based organizations will be funded under the legislation as well, Schumer added.
“It will expand on existing health legislation and address impacts of COVID and climate change on maternal health as well,” he said last week.
Additionally, Schumer and elected officials on hand called for permanent enhancements to Medicaid coverage for new mothers, including providing one year of postpartum coverage, up from the current 60 days required by federal law.
A temporary version of this policy was already passed as part of the American Rescue Plan, and Schumer says he hopes the yearlong postpartum coverage iwill be permanent. The senator is also pushing for Medicaid coverage for midwives and doulas.
“The Momnibus will deliberately address the needs of women, especially Black, Hispanic and Native women, who are more likely to live in poor health and die younger,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. “These disparities are not inevitable, there are ways to reduce and even eliminate these disparities.”
Funding for access to no-cost drop-in childcare for pregnant and postpartum women will be included in the legislation, Clarke said. Grant opportunities will also be available to community-based organizations and public health departments to address the needs of each community.
“We must never forget that the time is always now to improve women’s lives, especially those unfairly and historically impacted by neglect and deliberate mistreatment,” she said.
India Sneed, the wife of Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, spoke of her own personal birth experience, which she said included being subjected to an unnecessary C-section.
Last summer, Sneed suffered a miscarriage and was told she had cervical cancer. Now five months pregnant, Sneed recalled her emotional experience.
“Being ignored after a miscarriage, when my partner and I needed mental health resources, being pointed towards a hysterectomy after I routinely expressed interest in having more children, and being dismissed with respect to my request for fertility treatments, my story is not a unique one,” said Sneed. “It’s pretty routine to the Black community.”

Staff at Grand Care Pharmacy stays poised

Since joining the staff at Grand Care Pharmacy inside of Key Food at 66-56 Grand Avenue in Maspeth as a nurse, Meliz Jimenez says she is enjoying working with the people in the community where she lives at a time when she is most needed.
“I remember in February I had someone say to me, ‘Thank you for saving my life’ and all I did was give them the vaccine,” says Jimenez, a Maspeth resident. “It was really touching.”
Jimenez, a recent graduate of St. Paul’s School of Nursing on Queens Boulevard, joined the staff at the full-service pharmacy to help in the vaccination effort. Since then, she’s worked through the highs, lows and resurgences of COVID-19.
“Back in February we were doing like 70 to 100 vaccinations a day,” says Jimenez, who grew up in East Elmhurst. “Now we’re doing about 20 vaccinations a day, but we’re seeing an uptick in testing. We did about 70 tests yesterday.”
According to the COVID Data Tracker on the Centers for Disease Control website, more than 1.5 million people in Queens have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and just under 1.4 million people have been fully vaccinated. The number of fully vaccinated people in Queens represents 62 percent of the borough’s population.
As the Delta variant presents challenges for healthcare workers, Grand Care Pharmacy has made an effort to relay the most current and accurate information to the community.
“A lot of people are concerned about the spikes and there’s a lot of myths and controversial information out there,” Jimenez says. “People come here very misinformed, and we do our best to inform them the best that we can.”
The pharmacy has focused on helping those who want to be vaccinated by not requiring appointments for tests or vaccines, even making house calls to do so.
“We’ve been going out and administering vaccines to patients at their homes because its been hard for some to come out with the recent heat waves,” says Dr. Trevor Latchminarain, pharmacist and owner at Grand Care Pharmacy. “My staff and I have been on the frontlines serving our community from the beginning of the pandemic, caring for patients who tested positive, building awareness about vaccinations, and maintaining communication with our patients to ensure that they receive care”.

Don’t Forget the Purpose of Healthcare System

Americans should be deeply concerned about our “sick-care” health system. The system is designed to withhold the best medicines, medical devices, and operations until their health deteriorates, and then belatedly, rescue care is offered.
It’s a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to clinical care that puts patients at risk. There’s a far better alternative.
A truly patient-centric healthcare system would assess patients’ risk for heart attacks, diabetes, and other serious conditions, and then devote resources to preemptively reduce that risk while improving their quality of life. The current system limits access to care in the name of short-term savings, and ironically increases long-term spending.
Nowhere is this clearer than our approach to prescription drugs.
Politicians can get guaranteed applause by promising to slash the cost of medicines.
And this political drumbeat is increasingly reflected in policy efforts, whether it is the executive branch attempting to link drug prices in our country to those of other nations that employ government price controls, congressional legislation that would give the federal government greater price-controlling powers over drugs in the Medicare program, or a greater reliance on institutions like the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) that assigns a financial value to a person’s life in determining whether to grant patients access to innovative treatments.
We need to pursue a patient-risk framework that will accelerate the delivery of breakthrough treatments to those who need them most. Healthcare providers should use data analytics and clinical assessments to score the health risk for each patient and devote the necessary medical resources to reduce that risk.
Just consider how that’d change our approach to a disease like diabetes, which is particularly prevalent in minority communities. More than 16 percent of Blacks and nearly 15 percent of Hispanics live with the condition, compared to less than 12 percent of whites.
All told, it cost our country over $237 billion in direct medical costs in 2017. Of that, about $15 billion was spent on insulin, which helps patients keep the disease under control and live relatively normal lives.
A true healthcare system would conduct regular screenings for the roughly one in three Americans who are pre-diabetic and make it easy for patients to access medications.
Instead, our current sick-care system forces diabetes patients to pay a considerable share of insulin costs out of pocket. Many can’t afford it. Over 13 percent of diabetes patients have skipped medications or not filled prescriptions due to cost concerns.
As a result, they often suffer the worst complications. Lower limb amputations, which about 70,000 Americans with uncontrolled diabetes require each year, cost about $70,000 apiece.
In other words, we spend roughly $5 billion cutting off people’s feet and toes. That doesn’t begin to count the expenses associated with other complications, from kidney disease to blindness.
The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” really is true. According to the CDC, “effective blood sugar management can reduce the risk of eye disease, kidney disease, and nerve disease [resulting from uncontrolled diabetes] by 40 percent.”
If we don’t do more to predict patients’ health risks and then improve outcomes, then the trillions we invest in transportation, housing, energy, education, environment, and food have limited value.
At a time when historic progress is being made in treating diseases from cancer to Alzheimer’s, it makes little sense to focus narrowly on cutting drug costs rather than viewing healthcare spending holistically.

Gary A. Puckrein is president and chief executive officer of the National Minority Quality Forum.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing