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New Oncology Pharmacy Provides “Cleanest Possible Product”

TOP - June 2011, Vol 4, No 4 published on June 27, 2011 in Cancer Center Profile

This past April, Mountain States Health Alliance’s Regional Cancer Center celebrated the 1-year anniversary of its new, state-of-theart oncology pharmacy. Located in the Regional Cancer Center’s dedicated medical oncology facility, the pharmacy provides USP <797>-compliant chemotherapy and supportive care agents as well as the benefit of face-to-face collaboration between pharmacists and the rest of the cancer care team.

And although they might not know it, the patients benefit too. “Those of us in oncology sleep a whole lot better at night knowing that whatever is infused in the patient is the cleanest possible product that we can give,” Vanessa Bramble, director of oncology services, tells The Oncology Pharmacist.

Karen Meyer, a pharmacist at the facility, seconds that opinion: “Knowing that we have aseptic technique and a sterile area in which to work makes a huge difference. Like Vanessa said, we know that we produce the best product that we can.”

Each day, Monday through Friday, the pharmacy staffs 2 pharmacists and 2 technicians who, each week, prepare between 80 and 100 doses of chemo therapy for outpatients and an additional 15 doses for inpatients at the Johnson City Medical Center, across the street from the Regional Cancer Center in Northeast Ten nessee. The facility has 2 chemotherapy hoods in its negativepressure room and 1 laminar horizontal flow hood for non chemo therapy medication preparation in its buffer room, according to Bramble.

Setting Up the Facility
When building the new cancer center parent organization Mountain States Health Alliance showed its commitment to patient-centered care and national quality standards by making a large financial investment in the new pharmacy, says Bramble. “We knew right at the inception of the project—building the dedicated outpatient center—that we wanted to be USP <797>-compliant,” says Bramble, noting that pharmacy staff were involved in the design. In addition, an outside consultant who specializes in pharmacy design was engaged to do architectural drawings for the facility.

Using the footprint of the space, the consultant worked with onsite pharmacy staff to ensure that the finished facility would be optimized for workflow processes while meeting all safe-handling criteria. In addition, separate air handlers and back-up generators were installed.

Enhancing Care
The hospital’s electronic medical record system made the trip to the new facility with the cancer care team, smoothing the transition. And with the team “working much closer together, we have an opportunity to work on reviewing order sets, protocols, and the like,” says Bramble. “We’re so blessed to have the medical oncologists, nurses, pharmacists, and the entire team to confer with one another; communication has been enhanced.”

In addition, the new space allows for a classroom area within the pharmacy to accommodate residents from Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, part of East Tennessee State University. “It has really added to our program. Although the students are solely dedicated to the Gatton School of Pharmacy, they add that other layer to our physicians and our nurses and everybody—another person to call and discuss cases with among other things,” says Bramble.

The new center not only allows for a range of multidisciplinary services in one location, but also has led to commendation from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, which noted in the accreditation process the facility’s range of state-of-the-art services and equipment.

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Last modified: July 22, 2021