Chardon, Ohio is a small town about 35 miles east of Cleveland which is well known for its’ maple syrup (every year we host the Geauga County Maple Festival), its’ heaping amounts of snow accumulation in the winter, and is home to University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. Geauga is located on 65 acres of land, providing serene, peaceful scenery to both patients and staff. The comforting environment is complemented by a variety of inpatient and outpatient services which allow our hospital to serve residents of Geauga, Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, Portage, and Trumbull counties. Although University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center (UHGMC) is a small, community hospital, our pharmacy department is expanding services at an unprecedented rate. The dedication and enthusiasm of our pharmacy’s staff has established our pharmacy department as a leader in the health-system of University Hospitals.
I am so privileged to be a part of the “pharmacy family” (as we call it) at Geauga. Working with leaders who see a very big picture (some so big that I cannot even imagine!) has been very eye-opening and really inspires students, residents and other staff to truly go the extra mile to improve patient care.
One of our initiatives that I am fortunate to be a part of during a longitudinal rotation this year is the start up of our outpatient Pharmacy Clinic. In gaining support from administration, our leadership team has developed and gained approval to begin to schedule patients for initial assessments and follow-up appointments. We have a location for our clinic (inside of our outpatient oncology infusion center), all of our forms and documentation systems in place, and a system for billing…
The last key component?
How does one begin to “recruit” patients? How can we secure buy-in from physicians to start referring patients to our Pharmacy Clinic? How do we communicate to other hospital staff what the purpose of our Clinic will be?
Enter scene: pharmacy director, residency director, and resident.
Our main purpose over the next six months is promoting our Pharmacy Clinic to the health-system, our primary care physicians, and our patients. We need to demonstrate the benefits that pharmacists have on patient care. Sounds simple, right?
Our first trip was to a small primary care clinic in Garrettsville, Ohio. For those of you who haven’t been to Garrettsville (or have never heard of it, as I hadn’t), it is a very small town south of Chardon. Our marketing director, a nurse practitioner, my preceptor, and myself were somewhat in shock as we pulled up to a bowling alley with a small office next to it that had a banner with our UH logo on it. The physician’s office looked much like an old post office. It was poorly lit with narrow hallways. The room we were to “present” in was a very small office in which there was barely enough room for the staff from Geauga to cram around the table. My preceptor and I had prepared our materials and were ready to “wow” the staff with our knowledge and enthusiasm to gain their support and interest of the pharmacy clinic. During our visit, we had about 10 minutes of the physician’s time to explain what our Pharmacy Clinic was, why pharmacist-run appointments would be beneficial for patients, and gauge the interest of the physician. Accomplishing all of these tasks in a short amount of time is quite challenging. The physician seemed unsure of what our role would be in the patient’s care, and seemed a little offset by the fact that we would be essentially managing patient’s medications under a collaborative practice agreement. “But you don’t know the patients like I do,” she stated, “You don’t know their history, labs, and things I know about them.” We did explain that our work-up of patients would include a thorough review of the patient’s medical history and that we weren’t going to just care for patients without doing our homework. The conversation was a little tense, but in the end I believe she was opening up to the idea that this clinic may be beneficial.
So with all our enthusiasm and spirit, we continue to march on. This week, we started calling more physicians from our Primary Care Institute to schedule lunchtime meetings to inform them about our new Pharmacy Clinic. Many physicians who practice at Geauga with our clinical pharmacists will be a much easier sell when it comes to demonstrating our benefits as clinical pharmacists. For those who don’t know what we can do? Well, it may take time. Our patients and our colleagues who have worked with us know the benefits that clinical pharmacy has on patient care are endless.
So the marketing campaign for pharmacy continues. Our pharmacy clinic has its very first patient scheduled in a few weeks! I’m excited to see where we are in a year, or even ten years from now.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to learning and working with all of you throughout my professional career.