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"It gives me a lot of pride to wear the uniform in service to the country and ... work with underserved populations," said Lt. Fengyee Zhou, of the U.S. Public Health Service.

A Munster native has joined the U.S. Public Health Service as a pharmacist at a Native American hospital in Arizona.

Lt. Fengyee Zhou, 24, began serving at the Whitewater Indian Hospital in December.

"It gives me a lot of pride to wear the uniform in service to the country and ... work with underserved populations," he said.

Zhou graduated from Munster High School in 2011 before attending pharmacy school at the University of Pittsburgh. Afterward, he moved to Pinetop, Arizona, where he worked for the Indian Health Service hospital first as a civilian and then as an officer.

The U.S. Public Health Service is one of the seven uniformed services of the U.S. government. Its 6,700 qualified health professionals serve in the Indian Health Service, Bureau of Prisons, Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and respond to health crises and natural disasters in the U.S. and around the globe. The agency's leader is Adm. Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general and former Indiana health commissioner.

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"Our main mission is to ensure the safety and advance the health of this nation," Zhou said.

At the hospital in Arizona, Zhou dispenses medication and helps patients at a pain clinic with managing chronic pain.

"Pharmacists are well trusted in the system," he said.

The Indian Health Service was founded in 1955 with a mission to "raise the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska natives to the highest level," he noted.

"I'm so proud to be able to wear this uniform on a daily basis," he said. "We're here so that patients who are vulnerable and underserved can live healthier lives."

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Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.