Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, Antoine Minniti P’93 has witnessed the HIV epidemic and its impact on members of the LGBTQ community and on many of his friends. As an independent pharmacist, this experience also had an impact on his career. He recently focused on improving access to PrEP, a life-changing preventative drug that can protect individuals against HIV, and opened the first pharmaceutical clinic in New Jersey in 2020.
âAfter being approached by a friend with a question about a drug called PrEP, I knew I could help,â he said. “It was then that I decided to do my part to raise awareness and open up access in any way possible.”
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP for short, is a drug made available to the public in 2012 and used to protect against the transmission of HIV. After learning more about drugs, Minniti realized that she could be a resource, not only for members of the LGBTQ community, but also for injecting drug users who are at risk of contracting HIV.
In 2017, Minniti, owner of Bell Pharmacy in Camden, began developing their practice model for a PrEP pharmacy clinic – the first of its kind in the state of New Jersey and early in the game nationwide. In partnership with the Camden Area Health Education Center (Camden AHEC), the program launched in July 2020. Today, they serve over a dozen patients in the community and continue to grow.
âBy bringing our resources together with the resources of Camden’s large community organization AHEC, we just knew that together we would reach people and that we would be able to help people.â Minniti shared.
Camden AHEC has been a mainstay of health and education in the community for over 40 years. The organization is dedicated to providing easily accessible, flexible and secure resources for all areas of health, focusing primarily on HIV / AIDS-related services. With Bell Pharmacy, Camden AHEC is able to provide a unique source of education, clinical services and care to populations at risk of contracting HIV. What is usually a long process consisting of several doctor’s visits, tests and pharmacy visits, has been brought together under one roof.
âBell Pharmacy is very well respected and very well known in the community in terms of working with all neighbors and residents,â shared Marthe Chavis, CEO of Camden AHEC. Chavis continued, âAs a resident of Camden City, I can tell you this is going a long way. Fortunately, we were able to coordinate to have a one-stop-shop for our PrEP service.
Bell Pharmacy’s pharmacy-based PrEP clinic model has received numerous awards including the New Jersey Pharmacists Association (NJPhA) Independent Pharmacist of the Year Award in 2021 and the National Excellence in Innovation Award. Alliance of State Pharmacy Association (NASPA).
Additionally, the clinic won the 2021 Community Pharmacy Quality Innovation Award from the Pharmacy Quality Alliance. The accolade came after their candidacy received numerous letters of support, including a message from the New Jersey State Department of Health (NJDOH).
Ka’leef Stanton Morse, Executive Director of HIV Services at NJDOH wrote: âThe collaborative approach undertaken by Bell Pharmacy in partnership with Camden AHEC to design and launch a pharmacy-based STD clinical practice model, including PEP and PrEP, presents a national model for integrating community services with Pharmacy services eligible for 340B with a collaborative community approach that benefits the most vulnerable populations.
In the footsteps of his grandfather, Bernardo Doganiero P’39, Minniti attended University of Science to study pharmacy. Minniti allocates his time to USciences to prepare him for the future of pharmacy, in particular he recognizes Cal Knowlton, PhD, which helped him embrace a world where pharmacists managed patients in a bigger and more personal way.
“[Dr. Knowlton] believed pharmacists were trained to do so much more and were real doctors, âhe said. As part of Dr. Knowlton’s “Business of Pharmacy” course, Minniti wrote an article titled “The Purchase of Bell Pharmacy” which later played a role in her family taking possession of the pharmacy in 1997.
Early in her career with this patient-focused mindset, Minniti underscored Bell Pharmacy’s commitment to the personalized service provided by neighborhood pharmacists, while expanding this care to meet other unmet needs in the community. such as mobile immunization clinics, management of HIV-related illnesses and substance use. processing. Bell Pharmacy also specializes in a number of LGBTQ issues, including PrEP.
Going forward, Minniti plans to continue to expand the program and encourage others to follow in her footsteps. âWhat started as the first pharmacy-based clinical model of PrEP has grown into a large-scale ‘harm and harm reduction’ practice built around the ‘center’ of the pharmacy,â he said.
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