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Pharmacy opens to rave reviews

Sgt. Elvia Ayala, NCOIC of the pharmacy, Russell Hall, USAACE deputy to the commanding general, Col. Gary Wheeler, LAHC commander, and Lt. Col. Taiwo Bolaji, chief of the pharmacy, cut the ribbon at the new LAHC pharmacy July 28. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Sgt. Elvia Ayala, NCOIC of the pharmacy, Russell Hall, USAACE deputy to the commanding general,  Col. Gary Wheeler, LAHC commander, and Lt. Col. Taiwo Bolaji, chief of the pharmacy,  cut the ribbon at the new LAHC pharmacy July 28. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: July 31, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 31, 2014) -- The Lyster Army Health Clinic’s pharmacy had its grand opening ceremony July 28, and even though patients had been using the new facility for a week beforehand, many were in attendance to celebrate with LAHC staff and Soldiers.

The new location is twice the size of the former pharmacy and, despite having fewer windows than its prior location, promises higher patient output through its new automated system, said Col. Gary A. Wheeler, LAHC commander.

The project started about 9 ½ months ago, and around $4.5 million went into it. It is 7,000 square feet with state-of-the-art technology designed to improve service and safety, said Wheeler.

“We are absolutely pleased to offer this new capability for our beneficiaries. It is really a sight to behold,” he said. “The new robotic medication dispensing machines offer patients the convenience of quicker turnarounds for prescriptions and now we have two refill windows, which will make service even faster.”

Last month, Wheeler said the pharmacy dispensed 30,000 prescriptions – that is about 1,200 a day, so the new systems will really be efficient.

“With the modernization of everything, we will have better turnaround and serve more people faster,” he continued. “Our goal is 15 minutes per prescription. It will take time to learn the new equipment and work out all the kinks, but we do see improvements every day.”

Michael Johnson, a Boy Scout with Troop 50, completed his Eagle Scout project during the facility’s construction. He made two magazine racks for patients to enjoy.

“When I was younger, I was sick a lot. So, I wanted to help the pharmacy instead of doing something outside like other Scouts have done,” he said. “I wanted to give back to an organization that helps people feel healthy. I am happy how the project turned out because I think the racks are beautiful. They are not something that will go to waste.”

One of the new systems in the pharmacy catalogs patients in an automated computer system, which only requires the patient’s ID card to be scanned to access their prescriptions.

“Customers can now come to the refill window and they will present us their card, and whatever their medication is, it will light up in the new system,” said Lt. Col. Taiwo Bolaji, LAHC chief of pharmacy.

Depending on whether the patient needs a refill or a pickup, the medications are either dispensed automatically through a machine or are already ready for pickup.

When picking up prepackaged medications, a system is used that allows a pharmacy technician to scan a patient’s card, letting the technician know what prescription needs to be picked up. From there the technician will visit the RFID storage units, which are numbered and will light up blue, alerting the technician as to which storage unit to access.

Another add-on to the pharmacy was the addition of a private counseling room where Bolaji said patients can receive one-on-one consultations with their pharmacist. That privacy doesn’t only extend to the counseling room, but also to each individual window, which is now separated from other windows using partitions.

This allows more privacy between pharmacy technicians or pharmacists and the patients when discussing medications and prescriptions, which is very important when it comes to patient care, added Bolaji.

Ralph Breeze, retired Air Force, has been a LAHC patient for more than 30 years and said the pharmacy is, and always will be, a first-class facility.

“Lyster pharmacy is absolutely the best pharmacy I have ever seen in my life. I have been all over the world and no hospital, as far as the pharmacy goes, can compete with Lyster’s,” he said. “I can really get in and get out, and I appreciate that.”

Breeze said he doubts that the pharmacy can get any faster.

“While they were at their temporary facility it was super fast, even faster than before construction began. I can’t imagine them being any faster than they were there,” he said. “I am excited to see that.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/130974/

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