NDSU pharmacy professor receives $98,000 grant for Hepatitis C program

A faculty member in the NDSU School of Pharmacy is leading a team to support Hepatitis C screening and treatment access at Family HealthCare in Fargo.

Amber Slevin, PharmD., BCACP and her Family HealthCare team received a three-year Hepatitis C Care Cascade grant from the North Dakota Department of Health. Slevin serves as assistant professor of pharmacy practice at NDSU and a clinical pharmacy provider at Family HealthCare clinic.

Slevin is part of an interprofessional healthcare team that is launching a new clinic service to provide Hepatitis C treatment in the primary care setting. A group of NDSU pharmacy students have an ambulatory care clinical rotation with Family HealthCare as part of their training. This group of students will help to recommend, implement and monitor Hepatitis C treatment, an educational option that also will be available to future pharmacy students.

“This is an important step in improving treatment access in our community and to the best of our knowledge, it’s the first Hepatitis C treatment clinic based entirely in a primary care setting in North Dakota,” said Slevin. “In addition to providing treatment access, the grant will support efforts to increase provider and patient awareness regarding the importance of Hepatitis C screening.”

Brett Lessard, Kyle Arnoldussen, Gail Ronsberg and James Reineke, NDSU advanced pharmacy practice experience students, and Thad Bergh, third year professional pharmacy student intern, participated in training to assist with the program.

“This training served as a great opportunity to learn more about treatment options and how we can do our part to work with and assist patients as they seek to be cured,” said Thad Bergh, third year professional pharmacy student. “I was glad to be able to learn more about how we can help this patient population.”

"It is encouraging to see previously out of reach medications becoming accessible," said pharmacy student Brett Lessard. "I am hopeful that this will have a profound effect on the health of the public as a whole."

Assisting in supervising students and implementing the program is Brody Maack, PharmD, BCACP, CTTS, associate professor of pharmacy practice at NDSU and clinical pharmacist at Family HealthCare.

The grant award provides a total of $98,000 over three years to be used for patient care, an ultrasound machine for cirrhosis/hepatocellular carcinoma screening, educational materials, technology support, interprofessional team activities, adherence tools and patient education materials.

Hepatitis C is a viral liver infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and can be acute or chronic. CDC reports as many as 2.2 million people may be living with chronic Hepatitis C and up to 50 percent are unaware that they have the virus.

“Programs such as the one at FamilyHealthCare in Fargo are important to reach patient populations,” said Charles Peterson, dean of the School of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions at NDSU. “This program also gives pharmacy students additional training in this area, combining education and our land grant mission to help the community.”

The mission of the NDSU School of Pharmacy is to educate students and practitioners, advance research and scholarship, deliver quality patient care, and provide service to the profession. Slevin and Maack also will partner in the Hepatitis C screening and treatment program with staff at Family HealthCare Pharmacy, NDSU, which is a department of the NDSU College of Health Professions and is contracted to provide pharmacy services to Family HealthCare in Fargo.

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