Shama Sarangi-Virani is on the frontlines of Covid-19 testing. She works as a pharmacy clinical service manager and for the time being, has traded in her pharmacist’s white coat for personal protective equipment.

Shama was born in Kampala, and her family moved to Atlanta in 1977. She was inspired by her dad to enter the healthcare field. She recalls joining him on rounds at the hospital as a young girl. As a pharmacist, Shama helps her patients understand their disease state and how to manage it through medication and lifestyle. She lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband Shafiq and their daughters Illahi and Ariana.

Shama’s employer, Walmart, is assisting the United States Army National Guard to set-up mobile COVID-19 testing in parking lots in a number of communities across the country. She is one of a handful of pharmacists in the state who are trained to test patients for COVID-19. Additionally, she is helping to train other pharmacists so that they too can test for COVID-19.

Shama is also helping set-up and certifying new testing sites. Frequent and early testing leads to appropriate care for patients. Once a patient tests positive, they can be encouraged to isolate, and thereby reduce the spread of this virus to others. Testing also provides critical data to public health researchers so that they can better understand the spread and characteristics of this new disease.

“As a pharmacist, I never imagined I would play this role,” says Shama, and “I’m grateful to be part of the process for a solution to this global pandemic and hope that we are able to find a way forward as soon as possible.” She continues, “It’s exciting to be on the front side of testing and see how quickly things are moving as more data comes out. It’s also gratifying to be able to assist a person who is already scared, to help them through the self-test, and calm their fears by being a caring listener and a friendly face--or however much they can see through my mask.”

Shama is currently a member of the National COVID-19 task force with Walmart Health and Wellness and is responsible for ensuring its pharmacists are properly trained and that testing sites are operationally correct. She is one of the few pharmacists supporting the entire US division. Her advice for the Jamat is to “remain vigilant and follow guidelines such as social distancing and wearing a mask. Also, get tested if you feel you’ve been exposed or are not feeling well. Be patient and remain strong in your faith.”