Stepping Out of the Classroom: A Visit to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

On November 1st, students currently enrolled in PHAR 535 (Introduction to Psychiatric Pharmacy) and 546 (History of Pharmacy) were treated to one last Halloween fright! Students and their professors visited the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) in Weston, WV, which currently functions as a haunted house by night and educational, historical landmark by day.

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Exploring the TALA Pharmacy

The lunatic asylum housed individuals from West Virginia and surrounding states from approximately 1864 until 1994. Patients were placed in the asylum for multiple reasons ranging from snakebites, childbirth, and of course, mental instability. The tour featured multiple buildings located on the more than 300-acre grounds currently owned by the Jordan family, who bought the asylum in order to preserve a piece of history and prevent its destruction.

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Walking the halls . . .

Students participating were able to step back in time and view medical treatment for psychiatric illness from a historical perspective. In addition, students visited the remnants of the asylum’s pharmacy, an onsite museum where both medical artifacts depicting psychiatric treatments and remedies of the past, and a gallery of patient artwork. The goal of the visit was to allow UC SOP student pharmacists to view the progression of psychiatric treatment from the mid-1800s to today.

“During the tour, I was able to see how much the field of medicine has changed throughout the years. Located on the grounds is a hospital, as well as an old pharmacy, which depicted many of the drugs and instruments used during the time the asylum operated. The experience was interesting and did a wonderful job of showing us just how far we as medical professionals have advanced over the past few centuries. Personally speaking, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to visit a piece of West Virginian history and to see how different things were years ago. I recommend visiting this institution for those who are medical personnel or even just seeking an adventure.” -Chadrick Small (P2), PHAR 546

“Visiting TALA was a unique experience that I was able to attain through my Psychiatric Pharmacy course. Attending TALA enabled me to see just how far medicine has come since the opening of the hospital. One of the most interesting facts I learned while in Weston was how women were admitted into lunatic asylums in the early 1900s. Women could be admitted to the hospital for whatever reason her husband deemed fit. Examples of reasons included wives reading too many novels or talking too much. I was surprised by this information because although I knew that women were not considered equal to men at that time, I did not realize that husbands were entitled to treat their wives so poorly. Overall, I greatly enjoyed visiting TALA for a tour of the facility. It was an interesting experience that I most likely would not have gotten if it had not been for my Psychiatric Pharmacy course. The experience expanded my knowledge of the history of psychiatric medicine and I am happy to have had the opportunity to attend.”  –Jenny Long (P2), PHAR 535

Learn more about TALA by visiting: http://trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com/

Contributed by Peter Relvas UC SOP Pharmacy Student & Graduate Intern, Office of Professional and Student Affairs

UCSOP Promotes Diabetes Awareness

The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy is always looking to bring health awareness to its surrounding communities. Luckily, UCSOP is privileged to have students who passionately share this interest. This past week, a total of thirteen students and two faculty members reached out to six local high schools to try and make a difference in our community. Students teamed up and presented for approximately 15 minutes on a myriad of topics including obesity, diabetes, and the pharmacy school admission process.

On October 30th, P3 student, Juhee Kim presented at Charleston Catholic High School with P1 Glenda Athus and Dr. Susan Gardner, Assistant Dean of Professional and Student Affairs. “This was the first time I really got to interact with high school students who plan on going into the healthcare field. I felt like a pharmacist, educating individuals on the dangers of diseases and it was a satisfying experience to say the least,” said Kim.

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P3 students Rend Hermiz & Al Fein role model a diabetes management discussion to students at George Washington HS in Charleston on Oct. 28 while P3 student, Jelena Radan facilitates.

Dr. Gardner, who also attended a session earlier in the week at George Washington High School, commented, “One of the things that makes our program so special is the commitment our students have to health education and community outreach.” The events are part of a month-long diabetes awareness initiative. And so, the topics of discussion at the high school sessions pharmacy school admission and UCSOP’s upcoming Diabetes Awareness Day, scheduled for November 8th. The UCSOP sponsored event consists of free cholesterol tests, blood pressure screenings, and diabetes risk tests. Pharmacy students will also share informative displays, make presentations, and offer door prizes.

Pharmacy school admission was another common topic of discussion for the high school audience, and UC campus tours will be offered during Diabetes Awareness Day on Saturday. The high school students asked questions pertaining to the different roles of pharmacists and the future of the profession. Current pharmacy students and Dr. Gardner were more than happy to answer questions and help outline the journey to becoming a pharmacy student, and ultimately, a pharmacist.

Community outreach programs, like those mentioned above, help pharmacy students develop their communication, clinical, and leadership skills, while helping local residents live healthier lives. UCSOP’s ability to offer such opportunities makes it a great choice for students looking to give back to their communities and help advocate good healthcare. Stay tuned for more updates on how UCSOP and its dedicated pharmacy students continue to make a difference in their community! And, please join us on Saturday for during our Diabetes Awareness Day!

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Contributed by, Peter Relvas, UCSOP P3 student and Graduate Intern in the Office of Professional and Student Affairs.