Formation of the ABHP

by John E. Clark
In 1978, a small group of black pharmacists got together in San Antonio, Texas and conceived and developed the idea of pooling the resources of black hospital pharmacists and collaborating with the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP). They began a caucus group and referred to themselves as the “The Black Pharmacists of ASHP.” While there had been other black pharmacist organizations, none existed that focused on issues unique to hospital pharmacists. The initial goal of the ABHP was to facilitate communication between black pharmacists and the ASHP for the purpose of developing dialogue on addressing healthcare issues in minority patient populations. From the perspective of the ABHP, accomplishment of this goal and vision would be a benefit for both ABHP and ASHP. The foundational basis for the goal and position centered around several ongoing healthcare issues. At the time health disparities and diversity were terms that had not been used very often. However, racial, and ethnic disparities in healthcare had been a problem since the end of the Civil War. By taking a lead on the promotion of the effective use of medication in minority patient populations, ASHP and ABHP would both gain national attention as pharmacy leaders in addressing disparities in healthcare. No two such pharmacy organizations at the time had ever collaborated on this issue. Also, by addressing health disparities and diversity issues as a programmatic theme in educational activities it would increase awareness and provide opportunities for both organizations to promote the role of pharmacists in addressing disparities in healthcare. As a result of the collaboration, participation by black pharmacists within ASHP and thus throughout the country would be enhanced. The organization also sought to develop a platform and forum to support black hospital pharmacists and their pharmacy practice in health care facilities. The initial objectives for doing so was outlined as follows:
1. To identify and address the issues and concerns of black hospital pharmacists.
        a. To serve as an information source for the problems identified.
2. To identify potential funding sources to support black pharmacy students and provides this information to
     such students.
3. To serve as a resource of information for advanced positions (i.e., faculty appointments, residencies,
     organizational leadership, etc.) in pharmacy and encourage black pharmacists to seek such positions.
4. To meet on an annual basis to assure accomplishment of these objectives.
The above objectives and how they would be achieved would change many times throughout the years.
         Las Vegas was the site of the 14th Annual ASHP Mid-Year Clinical Meeting in December 1979. As the "Black Pharmacists of ASHP" began to develop, they established criteria for full membership within ABHP, which included supporting the mission and vision of ASHP. The group also began a tradition of an annual business meeting and luncheon. The business meetings served as a forum for the development of methods and strategies to achieve its goals and objectives, while the luncheon became a forum and platform for delivering the programs and providing the activities commensurate with achieving the goals and objectives. Most all the programmatic activities of the annual luncheon included using professional speakers and networking with colleagues from throughout the nation.
         At the 1979 annual business meeting, two important events took place. The Caucus made decisions to: (1) broaden and better refine its objectives while reflecting the intent of the goal, and (2) to form itself into an independent national health care organization, especially since there were no provisions within the organizational structure of ASHP to accommodate such a Caucus group. The new name of the organization was changed to "The Association of Black Hospital Pharmacists", Bylaws were developed, and its new objectives were:
1. To promote the professional development and enhance the effectiveness of black hospital pharmacists.
2. To support the educational development and enhance the opportunities of black pharmacy students.
3. To address the research, treatment, and prevention of diseases and health problems of particular interest to
     black practitioners; and
4. To identify and resolve the medical and health concerns of primarily black populations and communities. The active members that were named the initial officers of the Association were:
        • John J. Scrivens, Jr. President (Tampa, FL)
        • Miriam Mobley-Smith, Vice President for Development (Chicago, IL)
        • Theotus Butler, Vice President for Administration (Atlanta, GA)
        • Sarah Sanders, Secretary (Indianapolis, IN)
        • Frank S. Emanuel, Treasurer (Jacksonville, FL)
        • Georgia S. Thomas, Publicist (Fort Wayne, IN)
        • Regina Frazier, Parliamentarian (Miami, FL)
Committees and Chairpersons that were formed included:
        • Annual Meeting Planning Committee – Dorothy Washington, Chair (Atlanta, GA);
        • Constitution and Bylaws Committee – Paul W. Smith, Chair (Washington, DC);
        • Fund-Raising Committee – Kenneth Stewart, Chair (Houston, TX);
        • Awards Committee – Allen Brown, Chair (Little Rock, AK);
        • Business and Tax Exemption Committee – Sam Shannon, Chair (Tripler AMC, HI);
        • Nominations Committee – Betty Edlow, Chair (Richmond, VA)
The Articles of Incorporation for the Association of Black Hospital Pharmacists was filed in the District of Columbia in December 1982. The initial Directors in the Articles were: Sarah Sanders (Indianapolis, IN), John Scrivens (Tampa, FL), and Paul W. Smith (Washington, DC). The Incorporators were: Margie Utley (Washington, DC), Roosevelt Johnson (Silver Springs, MD), and Paul W. Smith (Washington, DC). The Certificate of Incorporation was issued on February 2, 1983.
        The Business and Tax Exemption Committee Chair, Colonel Sam Shannon, provided the leadership and the oversight of the organization’s application process for the 501 (C)(3) Tax Exempt status, which was granted in February 1985. The new tax status gave ABHP the foundational structure to seek out various source of corporate funding. The ABHP’s leadership built strong and enthusiastic industry support for many of its programs. More than 30 pharmaceutical companies supported the organization over the first 10 years. The support came in the form of grants, speaker support for educational programming, student scholarships, and donations.
        The officers and the committee chairpersons also became the ABHP Executive Committee and functioned as a Board of Directors. Regular meetings were established by teleconference and one face-to-face annual meeting. Much of the philosophical basis for ABHP’s activities and programs today was introduced during these Executive and Business meetings.
        ABHP started with no chapters or House of Delegates and therefore had no structural means for members to have their collective voices heard. The Annual Business Meeting served as that venue, which include an “open member forum” with an agenda of various topics that would be discussed by a member of the Executive Committee and sometimes a guest speaker. Then it would be open to members to present their concerns and recommendations.  There was no dedicated facilitator, or formal process for presenting resolutions, nor for the recording of professional action items for the ABHP Executive Committee to address.
        The Annual Business Meetings format changed over time as it became an ineffective venue to accommodate the many topics, concerns, and discussions of the members. The Executive Committee decided that the Member Forum need more structure to work effectively to meet the needs of the members and the Association. A separate meeting was later established as the Member Forum to give the members a voice and a process to bring business items and resolutions to the ABHP Executive Committee for action.
        Another important step taken by ABHP was to build partnerships and networks to help support the achievement of its goals. The Executive Committee determined early on that the organization could not achieve its objective of addressing minority healthcare issues alone. ABHP attempted to form relationships and informal partnership with a number of organizations within the first 10 years that the organization existed. Some of the professional pharmacy relationships included the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA); Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA); the national pharmacy Alumni Associations of Texas Southern University, Howard University, Florida A&M University, Xavier University of New Orleans, and later Hampton University; the U.S. Air Force, the Public Health Service, and the U.S. Army. In attempt to foster global partnerships, the ABHP started communication with the various international chapter officers of the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association (CPA). ABHP also started working with members of several agencies that addressed health care issues in minority patient populations, such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health. Some of the agencies included the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Minority Health, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and some state healthcare organizations, such as the Massachusetts Office of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Health Services Office. The officers would also participate in and attend meetings of several other minority organizations that supported issues of interest to ABHP, such as the Black Congress on Health Law & Economics, the National Black Nurses Foundation, the National Medical Association, and later they would partner with the National African American Drug Policy Coalition (NAADPC), and the Association of Black Cardiologists.
        One of the most important partnerships that ABHP developed was with the ASHP. ASHP was viewed strategically as the parent organization for which the initial goals and objectives of ABHP was formed. There have been several key leaders within ASHP whose commitment is directly related to sustaining the support and relationship with ABHP, as well as, affecting black pharmacists’ participation in the ASHP. It started with Dr. Joseph Oddis, ASHP Executive Vice President (EVP) from 1960 to 1997, who began a tradition of annually meeting with officers of the ABHP Executive Committee, participating in the luncheon and the reception, which continues today. While maintaining a connection and visibility with the ABHP membership, Dr. Oddis would graciously attend the ABHP Annual Luncheon and was routinely given a place on the agenda to bring greetings and remarks on behalf of the ASHP.  Initially he attended alone, but later would later bring the ASHP President and President-Elect. As meeting continued between Dr. Oddis and ABHP officers, there was much discussion on topics of membership, recruitment, active participation by black hospital pharmacists, and addressing minority healthcare topics in the ASHP educational programming. Dr. Oddis encouraged the submission of names from within ABHP for ASHP offices, Councils, and Committees through the normal processes at ASHP. Each year, the ABHP Executive Committee solicited and recruited several qualified members and submitted their names with endorsement to the ASHP staff. The impact of the action resulted in at least 1-2 members from the list being selected each year for Councils within ASHP.
           Dr. Oddis also encouraged the submission of educational program proposals on minority healthcare from ABHP. ABHP established an Education Affairs Committee that drafted several proposals over the years that were submitted through the usual channels to the ASHP staff concerned with planning for the ASHP Mid-year Clinical Meeting (MCM). Although every proposal was not accepted, some were put into the educational programming at the MCM. Some of the programs included:
Management and Socio-economic Implications of Common Drug Additions. Presented in the ASHP MCM, December 1995, Las Vegas, NV.
Women’s Health Issues: New Trends in Managing Osteoporosis, Menopause, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Presented in the ASHP MCM, December 1996, New Orleans, LA.
Healthcare Issues in Minority Patient Populations. Presented in the ASHP MCM, December 2006, Anaheim, CA. ABHP would market the educational sessions to its members through the ABHP Newsletter and later its website.
        ABHP’s elections coincided with the ASHP MCM in December. The election took place in the month of August and election results were announced in October (occasionally in November). The introduction and installation of the new officers took place at the ASHP MCM. When the ABHP included the Installation of Officers Ceremony into the Luncheon agenda, it was at that time that the ASHP EVP and President was also included as the representative to routinely administer the oath of office to the newly elected officers. Other ASHP leaders that attended events and worked closely with the ABHP included Henri Manassee, Thomas J. Garrison, Roger W. Anderson, Phillip J. Schneider, John Gans, Paul Abramowitz, Daniel Ashby, David Witmer, Hannah Vanderpool, and David Chen.