Spectrum Health Hospital Group, Big Rapids Hospital, Reed City Hospital

Pharmacy staff works behind the scenes for patient safety

Happy National Pharmacy Week!

Jamie McLachlan Hulliberger

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 System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,600 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving more than 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 150 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $550 million in community benefit in calendar year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $37 million in philanthropy to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.