Pharmacist Michael Carpenter reviews a tray of prescription medications that can be dispensed by “Rosie” a ScriptPro robot at the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Health Center.
By: Michelle Simon, Michael Carpenter contributing
The Prairie Band Health Center is the primary outlet for health care on the reservation. Within the patient service cycle at the Health Center, the Pharmacy fills an essential role in beneficial patient outcomes.
“I want my patients to be successful in their health,” stated Mike Carpenter, Pharmacist and department director. Carpenter, who has 34 years of experience, explained that dispensing medication is not enough for patient success.
“Patients need to be informed,” said Carpenter. The Pharmacy is equipped with two private consultation rooms where the pharmacists are available to provide in-depth information on medications and allow patients and caretakers to ask questions. The Pharmacy staff want patients to feel confident in the use of their prescriptions and encourage questions. Medication use compliance increases when patients understand the why, how, and when to take their medicines.
Along with Carpenter, the Pharmacy employs one other staff pharmacist, and three nationally certified pharmacy technicians. Two of the technicians focus on customer care and filling prescriptions, while the third technician, brought onboard a year ago, is the Point-of-Sale technician. Having a staff member dedicated to insurance claims has allowed the Pharmacy to significantly increase the number of insurance reimbursements received. Approximately 65% of patients who utilize the Health Center Pharmacy have insurance and capturing reimbursements helps keep the Pharmacy shelves stocked with product.
The Health Center Pharmacy is filling approximately 1500 to 1600 scripts a week, with the assistance of “Rosie,” a ScriptPro robotic prescription dispensing system obtained in 2011. Once the Pharmacy receives an order, a pharmacist makes the determination if the prescription is correct based on multiple factors, and if so will release the prescription to fill, either by hand or by Rosie. The robotic system will select a vial size, count out the drug, print the label and can collate multiple prescriptions for one patient and best of all, Rosie does not make mistakes.
The Nation’s Pharmacy operates under the Indian Health Service umbrella and uses their core formulary, or list of available medications, containing approximately 800 items. However, being Tribally operated there can be some flexibility with the formulary. For example, if a new medication came on the market that provided considerable benefits to multiple patients, is affordable, and passes some rigorous reviews, the Health Center Pharmacy could add it to the formulary. Almost all medications that the Pharmacy purchases are bought through federal contracts which makes them affordable to offer. Most medications held in the Pharmacy are less than 10 cents per unit, but others are in the $3 to $4 range.
And like other pharmacies around the U.S., the Health Center Pharmacy has faced the effect of drug shortages and the Opioid Crisis. In the past few years, hurricanes have wreaked havoc on drug manufacturing plants limiting supply. In both 2018 and 2017, some of the worst drug shortages in recent U.S. history have occurred according to Carpenter.
Regarding opioids, the Pharmacy has both external and internal controls in place. For instance, the Nation utilizes K-TRACS, a prescription drug monitoring program, sponsored by the Kansas Board of Pharmacy. Insurance providers are also included in the reporting process so the clinic providers can see a patient’s controlled substance use. The Pharmacy also completes a full inventory at the end of each month on controlled substances and does a physical inventory of all supplies annually. The Pharmacy is also able to collect and safely destroy any un-used prescriptions, especially opioids as to prevent “diverting” or selling them which is against federal law.
The Prairie Band Health Center is located at 11400 158 Road, Mayetta. The Pharmacy hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The Pharmacy Drive-Up Window is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every weekday unless staff need to attend midday meetings.
The Pharmacy does remind patients that you must be seen by the clinic at least once a year to remain being considered an active patient. Prescription refill requests require a 48-hour notification in order to secure provider authorizations. Pharmacy staff can be reached toll-free at 866-727-6330 or locally at 785-966-8200, option 3. To leave a prescription refill request on the automated refill line dial 785-966-8260.