Spectrum Health West Michigan, Big Rapids Hospital, Reed City Hospital
Pharmacy staff works behind the scenes for patient safety
Happy National Pharmacy Week!
October 20, 2020
Happy National Pharmacy Week!
Wait, what? You didn’t have that on your calendar?
Its OK… we pharmacists don’t mind working behind the scenes. Some even call us the unsung heroes of health care, providing the last line of defense for patients ensuring they get the correct and timely medicine they need.
We’re the drug experts. At the hospital, the frontline medical staff will reach out to us with questions about medications, doses and if drugs are compatible with each other. We work closely with nurses, providers, social workers, respiratory therapists and others, working as a team to keep our patients safe.
Accuracy is critical. We verify each and every order, living by the “five rights”:
Is it the right patient?
Is it the right drug?
Is it the right dose?
Is it the right route? (the correct method to administer the drug)
Is it the right time?
In the hospital setting, our team consists of clinical pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
In addition to reviewing and approving each order, a pharmacist will create personalized medications by “compounding” a drug. This mixing or assembling of a drug customizes a dose based on a patient’s diagnosis and individual needs.
This work is done in a sterile environment. Our team uses personal protective equipment (PPE) not only for staff safety, but to keep medicine that will enter a patient’s body sterile and safe.
We maintain the environment inside our cleanrooms, including the specialized equipment used to compound patient-specific medication, by performing specific cleaning tasks each day.
We mix various types of chemotherapy and infusion medications for cancer patients; we’ll adjust renal doses based on a patient’s kidney function and dose anticoagulant medications to help prevent or break up blood clots.
Our pharmacy technicians provide the boots on the ground for the department. They help restock medications in each hospital department and manage our drug and supply order. They work closely with the hospital nursing staff in getting drugs to each patient.
Like most everyone in health care, this year has brought additional challenges due to COVID-19 for the pharmacy team. We have had to be smart about preserving PPE and supplies.
Despite the new challenges, keeping the community safe and contributing to each patient’s health is what makes our job fulfilling. If you see a pharmacy employee at a retail store or in the hospital this week, surprise them and wish them a happy pharmacy week.
The recognition, although not necessary, will be good medicine for us.
Jamie McLachlan Hulliberger, an Evart native, is a 2009 Ferris State University graduate. She is the manager of pharmacy services for Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals and the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center.
Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides care and coverage, comprising 31,000+ team members, 14 hospitals (including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital), a robust network of care facilities, teams of nationally recognized doctors and providers, and the nation’s third-largest provider-sponsored health plan, Priority Health, currently serving over 1 million members across the state of Michigan. People are at the heart of everything we do. Locally governed and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we are focused on our mission: to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. Spectrum Health has a legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Through experience, innovation and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness.