Covenant Medical Center Implements Meds to Beds with New Pharmacy

LUBBOCK, TX (NEWS RELEASE) - Covenant Medical Center today (Oct. 25) unveiled its new retail pharmacy, located in the main lobby of the 19th Street hospital. The new addition follows a “Meds to Beds” philosophy, meeting needs of patients being discharged from the hospital.
Walt Cathey, president of Covenant Medical Center, explained the importance of getting patients their medications before leaving the hospital.
“When we analyzed why patients have to return to care after a hospital visit, the number one reason was inability to get the pharmaceuticals that they needed to continue to address their health care needs at home,” Cathey said.  “We opened a retail pharmacy to assist patients in getting their medications filled before they leave the hospital.”
Nationally, an average of 20 percent of prescriptions are not filled, and of those that are filled, 50 percent are taken incorrectly, typically for avoidable reasons, said Elise Johnson, Rph, pharmacist in charge of the new facility. Johnson says the “Meds to Beds” philosophy enlists the entire care team to get the patients what they need when they need it, completing the continuum of care. She said patients trust Covenant to take care of them in the hospital; now that is extended to their homes.
Johnson said the project goal was to serve both discharge patients and employees. The retail pharmacy also is open to the public for anyone who wants to fill their prescriptions. Future goals are to expand into specialty pharmacy and providing durable medical equipment.
“This is not just a retail pharmacy, though,” Johnson said. “We are an integrated pharmacy that is an extension of the hospital care team. As part of the care team we are better positioned to minimize prescription errors in a timely manner. We have access to their clinical information that an outside pharmacy would not have, since our pharmacy is integrated with the hospital’s software.” 
The biggest benefit Johnson sees is the positive impact on clinical care, with the additional benefits of convenience for the patient and family members. Since the implementation of the program, she says they have seen around 1,400 patients.
“The pharmacy team has the opportunity to intervene before a patient even leaves the hospital, should there arise any insurance problems or financial hardships,” she said. “If there are ways we can help make a prescription more affordable we will find a way. The technicians on the floor throughout the hospital talk with the patients to get to know them and understand their needs. Many patients and family members have given us positive feedback and appreciate our staff taking the time to not only explain their medications but research pricing to make them more affordable. We are utilizing the latest technology that allows us to check prescriptions out in the patient’s room with hand-held tablets. We are also using our wireless communication devices to more easily communicate throughout the hospital.”
According to Johnson, the pharmacy works closely with case management, discharge nurses, and charge nurses to make sure the patients have everything they need, even over-the-counter supplies.
“For those patients that are leaving the hospital, the last thing they want to do is take their prescription to a pharmacy on the way home and wait for it to be filled,” she said. “We are able to fill those same prescriptions while those patients are in-house and deliver them to the patient’s room and check them out, which reduces the stress and hassle of filling a prescription after they are discharged.
“Covenant is about compassion and caring, and our services demonstrate just that,” Johnson said.

(News release from Covenant Health)

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