VIDEO: Hospital pharmacists play a vital role in Estes Park Health patient care
When you think of pharmacists, you probably have visions of going to a supermarket or a drugstore to get your prescriptions. Pharmacists at hospitals like Estes Park Health have different responsibilities. They are an important part of the clinical team.
Kate Stephens is the Pharmacy and Infusion Manager. She’s been a pharmacist for ten years.
“Pharmacy is a unique place in the healthcare setting because it’s gotten to be such an opportunity for us to grow in so many areas,” Stephens noted. “We do anything from compounding IV formulation medications for inpatients and outpatients to being on rounds with the physicians and making recommendations on how to treat different conditions that our inpatients are facing. It’s an exciting job that has so much variation in your day to day. It really flexes your clinical muscles, but I love it. Every day is something new, something challenging.”
Samantha Haugaard is one of the other EPH pharmacists. She enjoys working in a hospital setting.
“It’s just something new every day,” Haugaard commented. “You never know what you’re going to walk into, how many patients you’re going to have, what’s going to be on your ‘to do’ list for the day. I review all the patients who are in the hospital. I figure out what needs to be compounded for the infusion center and inpatients. I make those IVs. I attend interdisciplinary rounds and I verify orders and make sure things are going smoothly through the pharmacy.”
Pharmacy tech Kara Steckline has worked at EPH for 13 years. She says she never has the same day twice.
“I just love the different day to day things that come up and trying to find drugs and trying to make sure our patients have what they need,” Steckline said. “I order medications for our OR department, ER department, outpatient infusion, inpatient hospital patients. I also make sure we have enough drug on hand. If things are backordered, I try to find them elsewhere.”
Steckline is also responsible for administering an important federal government medication buying program called 340B.
“It’s a federal program that allows critical access hospitals to afford medications that otherwise would be out of reach for a smaller hospital so that we can continue to serve our patients locally,” she explained.
EPH pharmacists also oversee the medication take back box located in the lobby of the hospital. Estes Valley residents should not keep old drugs on hand, throw them in the regular trash, or flush them down the toilet.
“The medication take back box is a way for the community to return unused, unneeded, expired medications, medications left over from lost loved ones, to have a safe place to dispose of them,” Haugaard explained. “We send it off to the state. The state destroys it safely. One thing we don’t take in the take back box is empty bottles. So, if you have those, you can just remove your label and throw it in the trash. Please don’t put any sharps in the medication box. We have two sharps bins located in the hospital, one by the emergency department and one right next to our take back box as well.”
The EPH team of pharmacists and pharmacy techs are an integral part of our care team, ensuring seamless, safe, and effective medical care.
“The providers really do look to us and ask us, ‘What can we do to optimize this patient’s care and how can we make them healthier while they’re here and then when they go home?’ We really want to take care of them in every aspect. I think in this small community, we can really do that well because we all know each other, we all work together on every single patient from start to finish. It’s just a great, dynamic community team.”
For pharmacy services that ensure the right medication at the right dose at the right time, think Estes Park Health.