Deployed To NYC, Ohio State Pharmacist Fights On The COVID-19 Front Line

Apr 10, 2020

Wexner Medical Center emergency medicine pharmacist Andrew North says the Jacob Javits Center in New York City hardly looks like a convention hall these days.

“When you walk inside, the first thing you would see is a lot of members in uniform either with the U.S. Public Health Serivce, United State military, as well as some other members of the National Disaster Medical System like myself, all vested in the treatment of the patients we have here,” North says.

North is working at the 1,200-bed makeshift hospital with the NDMS, an operation of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that deploys medical teams to disaster areas. As doctors treat an influx of patients suffering from COVID-19, North is working to fill orders.

“The biggest thing that we’re tasked with involves first and foremost ensuring that the patients that are with us right now receive the ongoing medication that need,” North says. “As you might expect, we’re filling a lot of prescriptions for anti-fever medications, anti-cough medicines, inhalers for shortness of breath, stuff like that. As well as, we can’t forget about every patient’s ongoing medication needs.”

After finishing his residency, North came to the Wexner Medical Center as a specialty practice pharmacist. He also works as a specialist in poison information at the Central Ohio Poison Center, which is part of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

North’s work in New York City comes as the death toll there continues to increase. As of Friday morning, the city had 87,028 confirmed cases and 5,150 deaths. At more than 160,000, the number of cases in the state of New York is now higher than any single country outside of the U.S.

“I haven’t gotten to look at the number of patients that we have here today," North says. "At least here at the medical center, we’re getting more and more patients every day, and that definitely translates to us in terms of the pharmacy model as filling more and more medications prescriptions or orders every day too."

Despite the massive influx of patients in New York City and surrounding areas, North says there appears to be enough personal protective equipment available - something that Ohio officials have consistently raised concerns about.

“I don’t know the numbers myself in terms of what we have on hand in terms of assets, but I can tell you it hasn’t been an issue in terms of the PPE that we’ve had so far,” North says.

North’s time in New York is quickly coming to an end. He’s there as part of a two-week rotation that ends Saturday.