‘Outdated to Outstanding’
Renovated CC Pharmacy Begins Phased Opening
Who says you can’t come home again? After years of construction and operating out of temporary locations, the Clinical Center Pharmacy recently reopened in a renovated space.
The 10,000-square-foot facility incorporates the pharmacy’s outpatient, unit-dose and intravenous admixture unit (IVAU) operations into a single site.
The outpatient section opened in early May. The unit-dose section opens at the end of May. The IVAU will come online this fall.
NIH acting director Dr. Lawrence Tabak joined Clinical Center CEO Dr. James Gilman at a ribbon-cutting event on May 18 for the newly constructed space.
“NIH invested extensive thought and resources into planning and building a pharmacy that supports our three pillars of patient safety, clinical quality and world-class research,” said Gilman.
The pharmacy’s development was guided by four key principles:
- Safety of patients and staff
- Efficiency to save time, money and eliminate errors
- Positive staff impact by creating a workplace with high morale, excitement and engagement
- Regulatory compliance to ensure that the pharmacy meets or exceeds any regulations governing it
Cross-departmental teams worked to ensure that the project provided uninterrupted, safe pharmaceutical care for Clinical Center patients. Medication preparation and dispensing services are supported by state-of-the-art automation to protect patient safety and streamline operations.
“Our goal was to move from outdated to outstanding and I think we’ve hit the mark,” said Capt. Rick DeCederfelt, acting chief of the pharmacy department.
While many things changed behind the scenes, the impact on the patient experience was minimal. Patients meet with a facilitator during the check-in process, continue to check in at a kiosk and the waiting area in front of the travel office remains the same.
A new outpatient medication pick-up area features three transaction windows with several features to help with patient privacy: frosted glass dividers, acoustic wall coverings and sound-absorbing ceiling panels.
Behind the scenes, new procedures will improve both patient experience and safety. A new system will automate storage and retrieval of prescriptions, making pick-up faster, more accurate and more efficient.
At the core of the pharmacy is the XR-2 automated central pharmacy system, a robotic management mechanism that stores and dispenses medications. The robot weighs more than 20,000 pounds and is so massive that it had to arrive in 2 separate deliveries. Simply unloading the crates of materials from the delivery truck took over 4 hours.
The pharmacy has 44 cold units to accommodate medications that need to be stored at different temperatures. There are 36 refrigerators, 6 -20° Celsius freezers and 2 freezers that can store medication at -80° Celsius.
To support prescription mail services, there is a separate area for packing medication shipments and special secure package doors for efficient pick-up by mail carriers.
When the IVAU comes online, it will be protected by high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters placed throughout the facility to filter the air supply. Differential pressure, temperature and humidity will be continuously watched through the pharmacy’s environmental monitoring system and the CC’s building automation system.
The renovated IVAU follows a single hood, single room concept that makes it easier to isolate a compounding area where customized medications are made and to continue operations if problems arise.
“We’ve invested in long-term sustainability of the sterile environment and focused on excellence by creating in-house standards exceeding regulations and industry best practices to support and conduct clinical research by providing safe, high-quality care—one patient, and one medication, at a time,” DeCederfelt said.—Donovan Kuehn (with contributors Esther Jeon, Christina Martin, Nadia Guirguis, Falguni Kanthan and Marilyn Farinre)