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Pharmacy safety, options are priority for beneficiaries

Staff Sgt. Clifton Newell, (squadron) pharmacy vault custodian mixes a magic mouth wash solution for a patient at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on March 6.  The mouth wash is used to soothe cankers, sore throats and other mouth irritations.                    (Photo/Bobby Jones)

Staff Sgt. Clifton Newell, (squadron) pharmacy vault custodian mixes a magic mouth wash solution for a patient at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on March 6. The mouth wash is used to soothe cankers, sore throats and other mouth irritations. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

Capt. Truong-Vinh Phung, 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist, gives Senior Airman Harry Renninger, 11th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operator, directions on medicine dosage during patient check-in at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center’s Main Pharmacy on March 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

Capt. Truong-Vinh Phung, 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacist, gives Senior Airman Harry Renninger, 11th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operator, directions on medicine dosage during patient check-in at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center’s Main Pharmacy on March 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

A 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician counts pills at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on March 6. The main pharmacy administers more than 350,000 medications annually. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

A 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician counts pills at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on March 6. The main pharmacy administers more than 350,000 medications annually. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

A 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician counts pills at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on March 6. The main pharmacy administers more than 350,000 medications annually. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

A 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician counts pills at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on March 6. The main pharmacy administers more than 350,000 medications annually. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

Alazar Bitsuamlak, 779th Medical Support Squadron officer in charge, provides patient counseling to a Joint Base Andrews member at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on Mar. 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

Alazar Bitsuamlak, 779th Medical Support Squadron officer in charge, provides patient counseling to a Joint Base Andrews member at the Malcolm Grow Medical Center Main Pharmacy on Mar. 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

AiMartin Johnson, 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, and Dr. Daleitha Stewart, 779 MDSS pharmacist, clarify a prescription dosage at the Andrews Satellite Pharmacy on March 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

AiMartin Johnson, 779th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, and Dr. Daleitha Stewart, 779 MDSS pharmacist, clarify a prescription dosage at the Andrews Satellite Pharmacy on March 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

Kenric Stephens, 779th Medical Support Squadron Satellite Pharmacy officer in charge, counsels retired Army Sergeant 1st Class Al Williams, prior to filling his prescription at the Andrews Satellite Pharmacy on Mar. 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

Kenric Stephens, 779th Medical Support Squadron Satellite Pharmacy officer in charge, counsels retired Army Sergeant 1st Class Al Williams, prior to filling his prescription at the Andrews Satellite Pharmacy on Mar. 6. (Photo/Bobby Jones)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Joint Base Andrew's pharmacies fill thousands of prescriptions daily. Every prescription, no matter how simple or complex, goes through the same basic steps to maximize patient safety.

Due to current reorganization and Base Realignment and Closure actions, even more beneficiaries are utilizing Andrews pharmacies, which means beneficiaries may experience longer wait times.

"We value every customer coming through our doors, and we strive to carefully balance wait times with patient safety," said 779th Medical Group Commander Col. Rudy Cachuela. "Our pharmacies have an excellent record of patient safety."

Additionally, providers have more medication options than ever before with a recent increased formulary of medications available. Due to limited storage space, not all formulary medications can be on the shelf and available. In those instances, medications are brought to the clinic for pickup.

Next, every medication is electronically screened against other medications each patient takes and any allergies they may have. Every dose and line of instruction is checked for accuracy. Pharmacy staff calls providers when necessary to clarify prescriptions. With the assistance of a state-of-the-art safety check system, every prescription is filled and each label scanned into the system.

"The highly trained staff has a history of catching medications that could cause possible negative side effects and interactions with other medications," said Cachuela. "Working with primary care providers to ensure the patients needs and conditions are dealt with effectively and safely is our priority."

Once filled, the prescription proceeds to a third person who reviews the label and the medication. The computerized safety system is used again here, with a screen displaying a visualization of the correct medication.

Some prescriptions do require a few more steps than others. Antibiotics that need to be reconstituted or controlled substances that require careful inventory tracking may take longer to fill than other prescriptions.

"Pharmacy staff cannot, and will not hurry, to bypass this important safety check," said Lt. Col. Libby S. Schindler, pharmacy flight commander. "Although we understand the inconveniences that wait times can sometimes cause for our valued customers, we care too much about the health and safety of our patients to risk making a mistake."

779th Medical Group offers many options to avoid extended waiting times, including having prescriptions processed during the non-peak hours of 7:30 -10 a.m. and 3:30 - 5 p.m. Beneficiaries may also request refills or obtain information on medications by calling 1-800-377-1723.

Both the Main and Satellite Pharmacies are open 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday, except on Federal Holidays. The second Thursday of each month, which is set aside for readiness training, both pharmacy locations open at 10 a.m.

The TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery program is a customer's least expensive option when not using the military pharmacy. It's safe, convenient and easy to use even when traveling on a temporary assignment or permanent move.

Customers may receive up to a 90-day supply for most medications via home delivery for minimal out-of-pocket costs, and the medications will be delivered to their home. Once a beneficiary is registered, refills may be requested by mail, phone or online.

It's recommended to use the home delivery option for prescriptions needed on a regular basis. If a patient needs immediate relief from pain, they can still have a medication or antibiotic filled at a military pharmacy or retail network pharmacy immediately.

More information can be found on the program at www.tricare.mil on the TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery program. To access the online formulary for information on medications, please visit www.79mdw.af.mil.