Cannon pharmacy keeps meds on the move

Airman 1st Class Charles John, Cannon pharmacy, demonstrates how pharmacists and technicians use recipes to “cook” on the job.

Janet Taylor-Birkey

On this day, more than 210 prescriptions wait to be filled by the Component Health Care System (CHCS), a computer system for prescriptions at the Cannon pharmacy, and the clinic staff have not seen the first patient of the day.
Most of the waiting prescriptions are refills which make up a large part of Cannon’s pharmacy business, with most refills being for dependents and retirees, said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Jackson, 27th Medical Support Squadron.
“The retirees come from Amarillo, Lubbock and Roswell, and those are just the larger towns,” with some retirees requiring as many as 10 to 15 prescriptions per person, said Sgt. Jackson.
In addition to refills, the pharmacy fills about 200 to 300 initial prescriptions throughout the day. Filling between 400 to 500 prescriptions daily requires a considerable amount of medications. Though the pharmacy can fill a variety of prescriptions, it doesn’t carry every medication available, so some patients may need to use pharmacies in nearby towns. Active duty military members receive their prescriptions free, while dependents and military retirees may have to pay a co-pay through the TRICARE insurance system.
However, prescriptions submitted by Cannon physicians are free to clinic customers and normally filled in 20 to 30 minutes.
“There are a couple of things that influence that … [such as] how many people are working. On average we have about three to four people to fill prescriptions,” said Sgt. Jackson.
The pharmacy staff realizes the importance of quality job performance and their responsibility to their customers. It takes “just one person not paying attention” to cause more harm than help, said Sgt. Jackson.
Books of recipes allow pharmacists and techs to make a variety of medications ranging from basic creams, and in an in-patient setting, would include making chemotherapies and intravenous (I.V.) bags containing minerals and vitamins to meet individual patient needs. “It’s almost like learning to cook. You have the recipe card and you make the [prescription],” said Sgt. Jackson.
But being a pharmacist or certified technician requires more than following a recipe or counting pills. Possible drug reactions are an area where pharmacists and techs need to be particularly knowledgeable. Pharmacy technicians complete a two-part training process to gain this knowledge.
Book work and hands-on training in a hospital for two to three weeks ensures that the techs put what they have learned into practice.
Cannon pharmacy hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and prescription refills should be called 24 hours in advance to ensure patients do not run out of required medications.
Although the pharmacy closes at 5 p.m., “If there is someone still in the waiting room, we’ll be here till they leave,” said Sgt. Jackson.