Posted by William Nunnelley on 1999-05-13

The coming thing in community pharmacies is for people to check the onset of certain medical conditions at desk-top centers in the pharmacy. There, with the help of a pharmacist, they will be able test the elasticity of their arteries, their bone density, glucose and cholesterol levels and other conditions.

The pharmacist will counsel customers on whether to seek further medical attention and refer them to their primary care physician. The pharmacist also will forward results of screenings to the physician.

Samford University's McWhorter School of Pharmacy soon will begin offering hands-on training in these new screening and referral techniques in the first health and wellness diagnostic laboratory of its type at any of the nation's more than 80 pharmacy schools.

Construction of the diagnostic teaching laboratory will begin this summer with the help of a $100,000 gift from the Rite Aid Corporation and PCS Health Systems. The facility will be located in the newly-named Rite Aid/PCS Pharmaceutical Care Center.

"These diagnostic and screening tools for use within a community based pharmacy are on the cutting edge of future practice models," said Dr. Joseph O. Dean, Jr., Dean of McWhorter School of Pharmacy. "This addition to the Rite Aid/PCS Pharmaceutical Care Center will provide a preview of what can be expected as new and expanded roles unfold for community based pharmacists."

The diagnostic and screening laboratory--to be installed in the Samford pharmacy building, Ingalls Hall--will have the latest high-tech, high-touch screening equipment for:

Arterial elasticity. A 2-3 minute non-invasive blood-flow test measures for hypertension, hypotension, arrythmia or a normal pattern.

Bone density. A short test reveals a person's present or future risk of fracture. After age 30, persons lose bone density faster than it is formed.

Skin damage. A non-invasive ultra-violet light determines skin sensitivity, dryness and other conditions to help avoid skin cancer.

Body composition. This test measures a person's body into pounds of fat, lean body mass and body water, and estimates caloric intake and metabolism. A report includes personal dietary and exercise recommendations.

Visual field. A 45-second test per eye helps detect glaucoma. This device may identify the condition earlier than traditional "puff-of-air" analyzers.

Glucose and cholesterol. Simple procedures requiring a drop of blood from a person's finger test for diabetes and cholesterol. An estimated 5.4 million people suffer unknowingly from diabetes; cholesterol levels are related to heart disease.

Asthma. A spirometer measures for the level of this condition related to breathing.

The diagnostic laboratory will be installed by Medica, a Maryland company which specializes in screening instrumentation for preventive healthcare. The complex also will feature a video-capable pharmacist-patient counseling room.

"Samford is grateful for the support of Rite Aid and PCS in providing this innovative state-of-the-art facility which will be a significant and critical tool in providing students the fundamentals for their pharmacy careers," said Dean.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.