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News | March 23, 2021

Curbside Pharmacy comes to an end

By Rachel Kibbe Williams

After just over one year, the Raymond W. Bliss Curbside Pharmacy’s last day is scheduled for Friday, April 9, 2021.

The Curbside Pharmacy was initially setup shortly after COVID-19 pandemic started spreading throughout the world.

Instead of a crowded pharmacy waiting room every day from open to close, the decision was made to close down the waiting area for all but acute pharmacy needs. Instead, patients used the Curbside Pharmacy for prescription drop-off and pick-up, averaging no time to drop-off, a 24-hour turn around, and pick-up times starting around 10 minutes.

Dr. Melissa Rife, RWBAHC Chief of Pharmacy, was especially integral in working through how best to change the pharmacy’s procedures to help protect patients and team members.

“Our primary objective was to implement a process to ensure the health and safety of our patients,” Rife said. “After running through several models and taking into account the existing space that we have at the Health Center, the curbside pharmacy process was selected in order to make the best use of our space and resources available.”

Lt. Col. Wendy L. Gray, RWBAHC Commander, said, “What drove us to initiate the Curbside pharmacy was trying to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our patients, as well as to our team members, while still effectively meeting our customer’s needs.”

Over the past year, the manpower required to maintain the curbside pharmacy was daunting.

“Several units on post have provided us with support in the form of manpower, to include Vetcom, and Dentac. The Soldiers that have been tasked to work to direct traffic and handle phone calls in the pharmacy. We are so thankful for their help, and their professionalism and resilience under these difficult circumstances have been paramount to the success of the operation,” Rife said.

However, with the COVID-19 vaccine administration picking up momentum, along with upcoming changes with the health center transitioning to a new electronic health records system, MHS Genesis, the time to change course with the Pharmacy has arrived.

Starting Monday, April 12, all pharmacy business will move back inside the facility. Space is still limited, however, so a limited number of people will be allowed in the pharmacy area at any one time. A 24-hour turn-around time for filling prescriptions will remain in effect for all non-acute medications.

The pharmacy has also gained the ability to send text messages as prescriptions are ready for pick-up. All that needs to happen for this time-saving capability is for the patients to sign-up and verify their cell phone number at the pharmacy kiosk.

If you are unable to pick-up the prescriptions immediately, they can be held up to 14 days.

Rife said, “We hope that the following changes allow us to provide you with excellent pharmaceutical care, while being mindful of the health and safety of our patients.”

For more information go to the health center’s website at www.raymond.bliss.tricare.mil.
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