Prescriptions with a Purpose: A Compassionate Care Strategy Dr. Michel Daher

Michel Albert Daher, PharmD, RPh, APHDr. Michel Daher met Victor in 2013 at the Old Town Clinic in Portland, Oregon, during a pharmaceutical consult. Recently graduated with a doctorate in pharmacy from Oregon State University, Daher was completing his one-year residency in Ambulatory Care. This area of pharmacy practice engages pharmacists in providing integrated, accessible healthcare, managing medications, fostering sustained patient relationships, and collaborating with a multidisciplinary team to improve community health outcomes.

Victor’s disheveled appearance and visible track marks suggested he was unhoused and battling a severe addiction. His medical records revealed frequent emergency department visits, typical of many unhoused individuals seeking care. He was also battling Type 2 diabetes.

The severity of Victor’s condition became clear to Daher when he saw his blood sugar A1C test results. A normal A1C level is below 5.7%, with fasting blood sugar levels ranging from 70 to 100mg/dL, and less than 180 after a meal. Victor’s A1C results were an alarming 18%, with blood sugar levels between 500 to 600mg/dL.

“Victor was at risk of dying at any moment,” Daher recalled. “So, I established his care. We got him to come see me before every meal. He didn’t know what day it was. He didn’t know what time it was. All he knew was that before he ate, he had to go see Mike.”

Over the next six months, Daher monitored Victor’s blood sugar, adjusting his daily insulin dosage before each meal. He checked local shelters’ menus to manage Victor’s post-meal blood sugar. He also formed a bond with Victor, listening to his stories of life on the street and his trauma. The A1C goal for any patient with diabetes is less than 7%. With Daher’s help, Victor’s A1C level fell to 6%.

“All they needed was that one person to listen to them that they could trust,” Daher said. “It just boils down to the simple philosophy of creating that base human connection, which can be very powerful.”

Daher learned this compassionate pharmaceutical care philosophy from his father, Albert Daher, who also was a pharmacist. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Michel used to organize the candy tray in the front-end section of his father’s pharmacy. More importantly, he observed his father’s dedication to aiding those in need, inspiring him to pursue the same profession.

One pivotal moment came during his high school years. On the way to his St. Francis High School junior varsity football banquet, Michel told his father he wanted to become a firefighter. Albert immediately pulled the car over to the side of the freeway.

“Son, firefighting is very dangerous,” he said. “You know, it’s dangerous and exposes you to chemicals and risks. I really think you’d be better off being a pharmacist.” Michel, respecting his father’s wisdom and experience, followed in his footsteps.

His family’s experiences in Lebanon shaped Albert’s caution. In the early 1980s, Albert left war-torn Lebanon to attend pharmacy school at Oregon State as his parents and sister remained behind. While he was in college, the war forced his family to leave their home. During their dangerous journey to a shelter, amid shelling and gunfire, Albert’s mother was tragically shot in her leg. Unable to help, his father and sister had to leave her on the side of the road.

Her fate was uncertain for months until a fortunate reunion revealed her miraculous escape. The bullet struck a key in her pocket, deflecting it away from her femoral artery as it entered her thigh. She lay on that road for hours until a passing tank picked her up and transported her to safety.

“My parents did all this to come here,” Daher said. “Growing up, my dad had four pharmacies, and he sacrificed, sacrificed, sacrificed. You want to invest in them and show that you appreciate and love them so much.”

After Daher completed his residency in Ambulatory Care in Portland, he returned to Los Angeles when his father called and presented the opportunity to open a pharmacy in the city of Duarte next to the City of Hope Hospital. They opened Pax Pharmacy on Sept. 29, 2014, named after St. Francis of Assisi’s motto, pax et bonum, meaning ‘peace and goodness.’

Pax Pharmacy has grown to employ 25 people. They specialize in diabetes care, management, and education and work closely with City of Hope Hospital to assist their oncology patients. Daher’s care ethos hasn’t changed since Portland — create human connections and treat everyone with respect.

“Every patient I see gets a big hug,” Daher said. “We talk about family, where they’re going, the next vacation, and the grandkids. They become members of my family, and I become a member of theirs.”

Since returning to Los Angeles, Daher has longed to serve unhoused and underserved communities again as he did in Portland. So, when a friend told him about volunteer opportunities with the Adventist Health White Memorial Charitable Foundation board of directors, he was interested.

Daher’s interest deepened after meeting with Juan De La Cruz, Adventist Health White Memorial Charitable Foundation President and CEO. During his tour of the Adventist Health White Memorial, he was moved when he learned about the Prema Pantry and Fresh Produce Program in the Community Resource Center and how it provides essentials like food, diapers and toiletry kits for those on their health journey. He was equally impressed by the Cecilia Gonzalez De La Hoya Cancer Center’s renowned care.

Excited to help advance nutrition education and compassionate care, particularly for cancer patients, Daher happily joined the board in February. When asked about his motivation for joining, Daher explained, “It’s just a matter of wanting to help and having the intrinsic desire to help people.”

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We hope Dr. Michel Daher’s story inspired you and we invite you to join us in making a difference. Whether you’re interested in volunteering, contributing or simply learning more about our initiatives at Adventist Health White Memorial, your involvement can have a profound impact. Visit our contact page here to find out how you can help create positive change and provide essential support to those on their health journey

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