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A Peek Under the Counter of Pennsylvania Hospital’s New Outpatient Pharmacy

Apothecary. Drug Store. Pharmacy. No matter what you call them, they do the same, vitally important thing:  prepare and dispense medicine.

New OtPt Pharm_6Over the course of time the local pharmacy has become a community staple, expanding to provide more and more health care and retail services. And in today’s world, hospital pharmacies are no different. The Outpatient Pharmacy at Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH) is moving to a new, larger location on April 13, where it will offer expanded services and products to patients, employees and community residents.

The New Pennsylvania Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy.

PAH opened the first hospital pharmacy in the original 13 U.S. colonies in 1752. The pharmacy remained in the original, historic Pine building for next 175 years. During this time the pharmacy only served hospital inpatients. Once the pharmacy was moved into a newer hospital building it still only served inpatients but eventually did expand service to employees. Then, in 2001, a small Outpatient Pharmacy (OP) was designated on the first floor of the hospital’s Spruce building, across the street from the main hospital complex, to accommodate outpatients, employees and community members.

The original Pennsylvania Hospital Apothecary.

1st Hosp ApothecaryOver the past 14 years, the OP remained in the same space with only one walk-up window. But that’s about the only thing that didn’t change as its work grew exponentially.

Today, the six staff members of the PAH OP fill approximately 40,000 prescriptions annuallywhich translates into an average of 163 prescriptions filled per day during its Monday to Friday operations.

“We are so excited for everyone to see our brand new space,” said Suzanne Brown, MS, RPh, director of Pharmacy Services. “Thanks to our new location, we literally have the room to evolve and improve so we can always provide the best for our customers.”

The PAH OP has the same convenient amenities that other Penn Medicine hospitals have, such as an E-prescribing System that allows physicians to prescribe electronically, eliminating the need for paper copies and unnecessary wait times; an automated telephone refill system; and myPennPharmacy, a free, concierge-based discharge prescription program for patients. However, the new OP is not just a pretty façade of drop-off and pick-up windows. There is a retail and section for customers. Patients are now able to get their prescriptions and other over-the-counter medications along, with personal items, all in one place on the way out of the hospital – with no need to make another stop after being discharged.

There is also a private consult room where pharmacy professionals can provide vaccines and medication counseling.

The Pennsylvania Hospital Pharmacy, c1920s.

Pharmacy_1920s“We received invaluable feedback via a survey regarding what types of products employees and current patients would like to see in Outpatient Pharmacy,” said Brown. “We really do want to make things as convenient as possible for all our community residents, patients and employees.”

So what’s to keep a patient about to be discharged from the hospital – or someone who lives a block away – from going to their local retail chain pharmacy instead?

“Well, for starters, being a hospital pharmacy, we carry all the medications retail pharmacies do not,” said Alyssa V. Baker, PharmD, Outpatient Pharmacy Supervisor. “For example, we carry the special vitamins for bariatric surgery patients. Plus, we have access to integrated electronic Health Records, or EHRs, which is important to ensure a patient has no contra indications with prescriptions.”

“Our pharmacy professionals are part of the Penn Medicine Team,” added Brown. “We know and work with all physician providers to offer our patients, employees and customers the most effective and safest medication therapy possible.”  

The current PAH Outpatient Pharmacy on Ground Spruce will close this Friday, April 10, and re-open in its new location on the first floor of the Preston Building near the hospital’s main entrance, Monday, April 13.

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