BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- There might not be an ‘i’ in team, but there is a ‘ph’ in family with Naval Hospital Bremerton’s (NHB) Pharmacy.
That notion of ‘phamily’ is the primary reason why NHB’s Pharmacy, which includes Branch Health Clinics (BHC) Bangor, Everett and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), has been selected for the 2018 Navy Pharmacy Team Award.
“This was truly a team effort. Truly no one individual can take the credit. The ‘phamily’ came together to ensure the success of the pharmacy and the best care possible to our patients,” explained Lt. Cmdr. Dean Kang, NHB Pharmacy Department head.
There were overlapping trials and tribulations – primarily an intensive renovation project and the deployment of the Department of Defense’s new electronic health record (EHR) MHS GENESIS - over the last fiscal year that the entire staff had to handle which actually brought them even closer together than before as a team.
With NHB identified as one of the Initial Operating Capability test sites for MHS GENESIS, the pharmacy was charged with consolidating multiple legacy medical informatics systems into a single integrated EHR to process inpatient and outpatient pharmacy services. There were glitches identified in training and workflow challenges, as well as a host of medication/formulary modifications that had to be updated. The driving theme behind such attention to detail during the roll out was patient safety.
“Patient safety has always remained our number one priority. During the most trying periods of our remodel and our initial implementation of MHS GENESIS, part of the reason our delays became exceedingly high were due to the fact that we needed to ensure the patient was still getting safe care. During the early stages, it unfortunately came at the sacrifice of wait times,” Kang stated.
The renovation project included doubling the window operating capacity from six to 12, increasing shelf space by over 50 percent, reconfiguring the outpatient pharmacy work area, and adding new pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
“The pharmacy underwent major renovations and was able to successfully implement both an inpatient and outpatient transition to MHS GENESIS. We were also able to overcome the numerous difficulties associated with increased wait times and decreased patient satisfaction as well as frustrations internally within the hospital and have restored wait times to previous normals. The team has continues to take a positive attitude and work through all of the challenges,” said Kang.
According to staff members, it was that team and ‘phamily’ concept that enabled them to deal with the transition in their workspace and to their workload.
For pharmacy technician Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Shealie Brown, her command being acknowledged as the top Navy Pharmacy Team for 2018 was validation for their effort during the past year.
“It feels good for us all to be recognized for what we do, and for what we went through for months and months. We were a ‘phamily.’ Everyone was checking on everyone else. There was a lot care and concern for others. Even our trainers became a part. It did feel like everything piled on at once. There were times we weren’t sure when we’d leave. I remember one time we had 96 people waiting in outpatient pharmacy for their prescriptions. But we were not going to leave until everyone got their medications. It took a long time there for a while until we got it all worked out,’ related Brown.
“Our goal has always been to give our patients the best service, in the timeliest manner, as we can. The ongoing construction and the new electronic health record did slow our services. Some of our patients were understandable about the delay in getting their orders processed but some weren’t. We understood their frustration because we also felt the same. There were some mornings where we would have people lined up an hour before we opened to get their tracking ticket trying to avoid a possible wait of several hours. Those were our dark days. When we added new staff, opened more windows, and got better hands-on with MHS GENESIS, it really greatly improved our service,” added Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Seth Meshach, pharmacy technician.
Going through those dark days did have a positive. It brought the entire pharmacy team together to weather the storm of frustration.
“There just was this team mentality that developed. We could tell when someone needed a break. We would step in. We learned the new system, adapted to dealing in a stressful environment, and we still managed to smile,” Meshach said.
And the ‘pharmacy phamily’ nickname?
“I think it’s great. Being away from home in the Navy, this is like my second family. I completely embrace the concept and enjoy it,” said Meshach, a Buffalo, New York native.
The prescription numbers alone are a testament to the pharmacy’s continual team effort. From January through September 22, 2017, there were 489,181 outpatient prescriptions filled – with 28,057 at BHC Bangor, 44,741 at BHC Everett and 1,113 at BHC PSNS – and another 75,526 inpatient medications orders verified. On a daily basis, there was an average of over 2,390 prescriptions and medication orders processed, along with providing around-the-clock service to NHB’s Urgent Care Clinic, Labor and Delivery, and Multi-Service Unit.
“It was nice to hear that our hard work had not gone unnoticed. MHS GENESIS has been no picnic but it brought out the best of everyone in the pharmacy. The recognition is nice, but should not change our mindset. We will continue to improve our processes to ensure we offer the best possible care for our beneficiaries,” commented Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Samuel LaPorte, Las Vegas, Nevada native assigned to BHC Bangor pharmacy.
Additionally, the pharmacy team further defined the position description of Navy Medicine’s ‘Navy Comprehensive Pain Management Program’ by originating clinical pharmacist capability to schedule appointments, conduct/document ambulatory encounters, and document point-of-care testing results to improve patient-health outcomes.
They also implemented an intricate labeling system throughout the command as part of a Defense Health Agency-led pilot program to support Barcode Medication Administration to improve accurate medication identification and proper documentation for patients in wards and clinics.
The pharmacy became a test site as well for the Navy Pharmacy Management Analytics Program to be successfully incorporated that provided electronic connectivity with patients by being able to send advance text messages and patient-centric information and data to enhance both customer satisfaction and their top priority of patient safety.
“The pharmacy team has adapted and overcome numerous workspace and workflow challenges this year. Their resilience and innovation with respect to the new EHR is leading the way for future roll outs. What our pharmacy team has accomplished this past year is nothing short of phenomenal. We have always known about your exceptional work and dedication to improving our services, and your commitment to our patients. Now those outside the command are also recognizing your achievements and your invaluable contributions to the enterprise as a whole,” said Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, Naval Hospital Bremerton commanding officer.
For more news from Naval Hospital Bremerton, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhb/.