Pharmacies Move Forward
For employees, Hopkins' three retail pharmacies
are fast becoming the drugstores of choice
Pharmacy manager Valentine Ocloo in close
quarters at the Weinberg pharmacy before last month's expansion.
Pharmaquip's Ray Lake and Deeley Middleton
The first floor atrium in the Weinberg Building may soar to the heavens,
but space in the pint-sized pharmacy at its edge, until recently at
least, was at a premium. Here, in a mere 350 square feet, five pharmacists
and technicians filled more than 100 prescriptions a day, dispensing
specialty drugs like injectables and high-cost cancer meds, compounding
complex pediatric oncology drugs, and mixing special eye ointments for
Wilmer. "Whoever designed this space didn't realize how busy we
would be," says pharmacy manager Valentine Ocloo.
Last month, Weinberg started a much-needed renovation that adds another
200 square feet and expanded counter, shelf and storage areas. These
improvements, like those under way at Hopkins' two other retail pharmacies-one
at the Outpatient Center, the other at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical
Center-are designed not only to better the work environment but also
to entice employees to have prescriptions filled here, says Deeley Middleton,
a vice president of Pharmaquip, the Johns Hopkins Home Care organization
that manages the three pharmacies.
Middleton reels off some recent enhancements: Drop-off boxes that allow
employees to leave prescriptions in the morning and pick them up after
work. Expanded hours. Computerized call-in systems that permit customers
to leave automated refill requests any time day or night. An automated
fill station destined for the recently renovated JHOC pharmacy. The
fill station will be stocked with the 100 fastest-moving drugs and enable
busy JHOC pharmacists, who fill 450 "scripts" a day, to work
quickly and accurately.
Late last fall, Pharmaquip transferred ownership of its three pharmacies
to their respective hospitals. That is because pharmacies owned by hospitals
like Hopkins, which provide a disproportionate amount of uncompensated
care, are eligible for a federal, discounted drug program. Under the
340 B Discounted Drug Purchasing Program, the pharmacies now can buy
drugs for prescriptions written by hospital providers at a lower cost.
As a result, since the transfer, costs have dropped by 30 percent.
Newly realized profits are returned to Hopkins Hospital and Bayview
each month. And, they are making it possible for Middleton and Ray Lake,
director of ambulatory pharmacy services at Pharmaquip, to offer the
benefits of a community pharmacy, and then some. So in addition to top-notch
service, convenience and all the standard drugs, customers at the Weinberg
pharmacy, for example, will find a specially trained tech who works
with insurance companies to figure out drug benefits even before patients
undergo complex procedures like bone marrow transplantation. Most importantly,
all three drugstores make it possible for patrons to get the hard-to-find
specialty drugs available only in a pharmacy connected to a hospital.