Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

Within Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s (SNMH) pharmacy there is a dispensary that stocks and disperses medications for inpatients. Nicole Gordon is the hospital’s Director of Pharmacy. She oversees 11 pharmacists and 14 pharmacy technicians.

So what does a day look like for a hospital pharmacist? According to Gordon, “when a physician prescribes a drug treatment for a patient, the order goes through a set of reviews in the dispensing process.”

Gordon continued, “the order is checked for appropriateness of the drug for the particular medical condition, or for any comorbidity (the state of having multiple illnesses at one time) illnesses. The order is also checked for appropriateness of the dose, as well as the route and frequency for taking the drug. This ensures the right formulation and makes sure incompatible drug interactions or allergies are not present. The drug is then placed into dose readiness for the nurse to administer it.”

SNMH pharmacy was recently renovated to include a new, regulatory-compliant space for sterile compounding. Sterile compounding involves preparing a medication in an environment that is controlled to reduce or eliminate the presence of viruses, bacteria, or any other potentially infectious microorganisms. This type of compounding is most often used for medications that will be administered intravenously.

To manage this type of compounding it was necessary to have High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtered rooms as well as an upgrade in the compounding hoods. This new environment is appropriately vented and meets the proper amount of room air exchanges per hour. Integrated exhaust fans and a multi-level filtration system protects the operator during compounding while helping to remove harmful particulates. The rest of the pharmacy was also expanded to provide adequate space for the entire pharmacy team.

While most people understand what a pharmacist does, many are not familiar with the role of a pharmacy technician. Under the supervision of a pharmacist, the technicians gather, organize, restock and compound medications. They also interview patients about their medication histories and when needed, will contact the local pharmacies to obtain important medication information. This allows a better history which assists the physicians in deciding to continue or discontinue certain drug orders upon admission.

People often ask why hospital pharmacies don’t fill prescriptions for patients leaving the hospital. This dispensing practice requires an outpatient pharmacy license. To obtain such a license would require a physical separation of inpatient and outpatient pharmacy spaces as well as separation of inventory used for each. In the near future SNMH will offer a “Meds to Bed” program whereby a patient can elect to have their discharge prescriptions filled by a local pharmacy and delivered before leaving the hospital.

SNMH’s highly skilled pharmacy team empowers healthcare team members and patients by helping them understand the medications that will help tackle the patients’ illnesses. They play a significant role in helping to reduce potential medical errors, boost positive medication outcomes, and ensure seamless transition in care.

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