PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- After nearly a year of construction, staff of the newly renovated pharmacy at Branch Health Clinic Oceana marked the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 1, while celebrating the added capacity and work flow efficiency that will improve patient care.
During the ceremony, remarks were given by Capt. Darin Via, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth commanding officer; Cmdr. Elisabet Prieto, Branch Health Clinic Oceana officer in charge; and Capt. Louis Schager Jr., Naval Air Station Oceana commanding officer; before the three used a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon.
"As a service member and a person who uses the pharmacy often, this is a great thing," Schager said. "We love what the branch health clinic offers for our men and women and their families. This is tied to readiness, and when Sailors are deploying, it's great to have this piece of mind."
Currently, the Oceana pharmacy processes more than 250,000 prescriptions per year, and the new configuration will allow that number to hit 300,000.
"We have improved our capability to process up to an additional 4,000 prescriptions per month based on our workstations that we have," said Lt. Peter Jeanlouis, pharmacy department head at BHC Oceana. "During the construction, space was limited and wait times increased to an average of 45 minutes. With our new work flow and full staffing, we are aiming to reduce wait times to less than 30 minutes."
In addition to improving patient services, the pharmacy expansion is linked to TRICARE's initiatives to bring patients to military treatment facilities for prescription services.
"We have initiatives throughout the command to expand pharmacy services in conjunction with TRICARE's changes to the co-pay structure," Jeanlouis said. "We are already seeing growth in prescriptions filled with the restructuring of TRICARE benefits. Those initiatives alone will bring more patients to us."
Via also commented on the impact of filling prescriptions at a military treatment facility vice retail pharmacy.
"Through retail pharmacies, we spend about $4.8 million per year in the Tidewater market, so anything that we can do to get our patients back into utilizing the direct care system and TRICARE Mail Order Program is the right thing to do to reduce costs," Via said. "During this renovation process, you have done your best to keep wait times as low as possible while maintaining the safety of our patients."
Prieto echoed the sentiment.
"Our pharmacy staff has been working under tough conditions," she said, "but now they have a beautiful pharmacy with all of the windows on one side of the building."
Previously, the pharmacy was separated into two spaces, with three windows on each side and all of the robotic stations were in the middle. While the primary space was constrained and not conducive to the work flow, the refill window was located in a separate section of the clinic.
"We realized that we needed to expand the square footage, which we did by 250 square feet on the primary care side, so now what you see is seven windows in one area," Jeanlouis said. "We consolidated pharmacy spaces and added a refill window, so we have one window dedicated to dispensing refills. This really was a comprehensive project that addresses the needs of the pharmacy."
The project meant challenges for the two dozen staff members, which according to Carla Lehan, pharmacy supervisor, included three phases, and during each phase, staff had to shift supply storage.
"Now everything is in its place," Lehan said, "and they did a beautiful job. It's a beautiful pharmacy and a long time coming. It allows us to get patients their medications in a more efficient manner. The experience overall is going to be improved because the efficiency will be improved."
According to Jeanlouis, more improvements are on the horizon.
"The pharmacy as a community is working on several initiatives to improve patient experience, including a dashboard to display the wait times, and improving the intake process," Jeanlouis said. "In the coming months, we will see a big difference in pharmacy services."
For more news from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, visit www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.