2011 UW Honorary Citation Report – Nowicki Pyter

Citation recipient Jackie Nowicki Pyter (center) with Dean Jeanette Roberts and Brian Mc Ilhone

Citation recipient Jackie Nowicki Pyter (center) with Dean Jeanette Roberts (right)
and Brian Mc Ilhone (left)

The formal part of Jacqueline “Jackie” Nowicki Pyter’s professional journey started at the School of Pharmacy at Charter and University where she received the foundation and tools to navigate her diverse future experiences in retail, hospital, chain, and mail-order pharmacy settings. Her formal education was enhanced by mentorship from Dennis Dziczkowski at Meinzer Pharmacy in Hales Corners, WI, as a high school student and later as her pharmacy preceptor.

The knowledge and experiences gained at the School of Pharmacy and the lessons learned at her assorted pharmacy practice venues, came into alignment and culminated in an incredibly rewarding experience working as a volunteer for the Open Door and HealthReach Clinics in Mundelein and Waukegan, Illinois. Open Door provided health care services to the medically uninsured and underserved population in Lake County, IL by using a dedicated volunteer medical staff and Board of Directors. Jackie’s responsibilities on its Board of Directors evolved into an ambitious attempt to offer drug therapy at no cost to the patrons of the Open Door clinic. She initiated pharmacy services at Open Door by erecting a 6×8 foot “dispensary”. A generous volunteer in the building trade put up some 2x4s and shelves. Medications, including physician samples brought in by the volunteer doctors and a limited supply of purchased generic drug products, were inventoried, organized, and dispensed. A paper-based administrative system was created, and the original “pharmacy” at Open Door came into being. The formulary expanded as patients were enrolled in patient assistance programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.

In a strategic move that was highly beneficial for the patients, Jackie and her Board of Directors evaluated a mutually beneficial merger with HealthReach Inc. in Waukegan, Illinois. This clinic, with a similar mission and staffed by a larger cohort of volunteer medical personnel, was a nearly perfect fit and a joint venture was finalized in 2006. A similar, but larger scale, replica of the Open Door dispensary operation was established at the Waukegan site. Soon after, Abbott Laboratories sent an army of volunteer engineers and donated $500,000 dollars to gut and renovate the Mundelein site, adding modern exam rooms, a state-of-the-art phlebotomy lab, and two dental operatories. Abbott also contributed an additional $250,000 in the form of a matching grant to support operational expenses, and $250,000 worth of bulk medications.

As patient needs and Board of Directors support grew, in 2008 Jackie led the realization of the dream to serve HealthReach’s many patients with a Division I licensed pharmacy. This off-site central-fill pharmacy was located in a refurbished former factory building with the help of a generous landlord who waived the pharmacy’s rent for the first year. The challenges associated with licensing the facility, hiring a full-time pharmacist and technicians, seeking the help of volunteer pharmacists, and creation of necessary procedures were daunting, but were achieved with Jackie’s leadership.

Procurement of additional patient assistance program medications, adding drug products from the institutional bulk replacement programs offered by pharmaceutical companies, and installing software that networked the clinics and pharmacy together followed shortly. Today, more than 28,000 prescriptions per year are dispensed at a minimum cost to the growing number of patients in need. Outcomes data measuring the success rates associated with treatment of chronic disease states such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease compare favorably with national benchmarks.

Funding the clinics and pharmacy continues to be an ongoing struggle in the face of the ever expanding number of underserved people in Lake County and the effect of the economy on the enterprise’s most generous donors and volunteers. Nonetheless, Jackie and the Board are looking creatively at partnerships to establish a clinical pharmacist position to work with the medical teams at both clinics and eventually supervise pharmacy students as part of their experiential education.

Jackie’s sincere hope is that other young women and men will seek volunteer opportunities that use the skills and knowledge that the faculty here at the School of Pharmacy provide as part of achieving their own professional dreams. In doing so, and in their own special way, they will continue the work of providing modern-day pharmaceutical expertise to the neediest of patients. It is her belief that, with the love and support of their families, the input and inspiration of their mentors, and based on the quality of the education provided by this faculty, anything is possible.