Spotlight on the Pharmacy
Beyond Administering Medications, This Team’s Task List Ranges from Clinical Care to Education, and Now the COVID-19 Vaccine
For much of 2020, COVID-19 played an outsized role in virtually every aspect of daily hospital activities. Its impact has created the need for new infection control policies, the cancellation of on-site events and changes to visitor protocols. From the beginning of the pandemic, pharmacy staff members at the Boston Shriners Hospital worked to understand the ever-changing dynamics around the virus and provide the most updated information on medication for our pediatric patients.
As 2020 drew to a close, the Boston Shriners Hospital received the welcome news that the Moderna vaccine was on the way. Pharmacy staff members had been working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and officials at Shriners Hospitals for Children’s headquarters in Tampa to prepare for this milestone event. The arrival of a vaccine represents a turning point in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Pharmacy Director Kareem Hammad, RPh, Pharm.D., MBA, shared, “Preparing to administer the vaccine to our staff required a robust education and planning effort, but we have always been grateful to be working with a great and supportive leadership team. We received our shipment just before Christmas and vaccinated our first staff members on December 24. We are looking forward to a better year to come.”
Playing a key role in administering the COVID-19 vaccine is only one aspect of the pharmacy staff’s responsibilities. Patients and families may not realize all the ways pharmacists work with their care team to provide the best outcomes. Pharmacists are often behind the scenes making essential contributions to the delivery of care. The pharmacy team at the Boston Shriners Hospital is comprised of five pharmacists including Adeline, Naima, Lucinda, Sami and Kareem; the pharmacy director; as well as advanced pharmacy students, co-op students and technicians. The day-to-day responsibilities of the pharmacy staff are vast and varied. There are over 300 checkpoints on the daily task list ranging from clinical care to operations, policies and regulations, emergency preparedness and education.
Every morning, pharmacists actively participate in multidisciplinary clinical rounds to manage the medication needs of patients. This entails working closely and collaboratively with doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners to ensure outstanding patient care and safety. The team oversees the pharmaceutical care of Boston Shriners Hospital patients, making sure their drug therapies are managed appropriately. They work with medical and nursing staff members to ensure patients are getting the right drugs and dosages, and that they are being monitored and administered safely. The pharmacy team is tireless in their dedication to finding the best and safest therapies for our patients.
The pharmacy staff manages the safe procuring, manufacturing, dispensing and distributing of medications for all areas. They monitor and manage all refrigerators, freezers and cabinets that store medication. This process includes ensuring that storage conditions comply with all current regulations. They also manage all the medication automated dispensing machines, “Omnicells,” on all patient units. The pharmacy provides sterile product services including sterile compounding and non-sterile compounding medication. The pharmacy department also plays a key role in furthering the hospital’s mission on education, providing updated presentations every month on relevant clinical topics.
“I could not be any prouder of the high quality care that this team provides to our patients,” Dr. Hammad said. “We may be small in size, but we are not small in care or value. We love hearing the bell sounding a patient’s goodbye! It’s sad to see our patients leave, but it fills us with happiness to know that our children are leaving for a better future and life full of hope and happiness.”
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