MCE pharmacy now provides 24-hour, seven-day serviceOct. 27, 2021, 3:07 PM
by Jill Clendening
To better serve patients and their families, the Medical Center East Pharmacy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has expanded its service hours and is now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The outpatient pharmacy is on the second floor of Medical Center East, near the skywalk of Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH).
“This will be a great benefit to our patients discharged from the Emergency Department after hours and in need of prescription medications before going home,” said Rusty Catlin, PharmD, director of retail pharmacy operations for VUMC. “This change will also benefit our patients getting discharged from the hospital and utilizing our Meds-to-Beds prescription delivery service. Prescriptions can be processed overnight and ready for early morning deliveries to patients’ bedsides. We are excited about the opportunities to better serve our patients.”
Meds-to-Beds, a program in which pharmacy staff deliver discharge prescriptions and counseling directly to patients at their bedside before their discharge, was begun in 2016 at VUH.
The program has grown significantly, and having overnight hours to prepare prescriptions for those morning deliveries will help minimize medication delays and support the Medical Center’s Discharge by 11 a.m. initiative, Catlin said.
Hospital pharmacists are a key component of the multidisciplinary team involved directly in patient-centered care, and ensuring a pharmacy team is always available to both patients and their clinical providers, no matter what day or hour, additionally streamlines problem-solving and improves communication for everyone involved, he added.
“On behalf of Vanderbilt Emergency Services, I want to thank our hospital and pharmacy leaders whose dedication and hard work made this pharmacy expansion a reality,” said Tyler Barrett, MD, MSCI, executive medical director of Vanderbilt Emergency Services. “The Vanderbilt University Hospital Emergency Department discharges more than half of all patients in the evening, overnight and weekends when our on-campus pharmacies have already closed. There are very few 24/7 retail pharmacies in our region and none close to the downtown campus.
“The MCE Pharmacy expansion is an outstanding benefit to our patients and their families who will now be able to conveniently pick up prescriptions following their discharge. Our ED clinicians are also excited that our patients will have greater access to their medications, and we are only a pharmacist phone call away if there are any questions or issues about prescriptions.”
Pharmaceutical Services at VUMC had already made many operational changes in recent months in response to continued clinic growth throughout the Medical Center, as well as expanded home delivery services. This was particularly critical as the pandemic reduced in-person prescription pick-ups, Catlin said.
To support that growth, it made sense to expand shifts for pharmacy staff beyond regular business hours to handle additional prescription volume and tasks that allow day shift teams to focus on patient care. As the pharmacy team continued to grow and adapt to the needs of patients, it was a smooth transition to expand into a 24-hour service.
Four new pharmacists were hired to support the expansion of hours, with two pharmacists available at the Medical Center East location during the overnight hours and weekend hours.
Signage directs after-hours visitors to a designated window in the Medical Center East Pharmacy, now equipped with a buzzer, so they can interact with pharmacy staff to pick up and pay for their prescriptions.