News: Schriever pharmacy offers convenience, ease of use
Story by Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. "Do you consider yourself a drug pusher?"
Capt. Christine Cox laughed at the question. Some people may perceive her occupation as such since she categorically provides drugs or, with lesser notoriety, medicine. Cox is a pharmacist and support flight commander with the 21st Medical Squadron.
"No, pharmacists tend to be more tightfisted," answered Cox.
"We are looking out for people's health and safety while acting as custodians of taxpayer dollars. Our pharmacy mission is to provide medication services including deployment preparation, maximizing active duty health and readiness while providing services to our dependents and retirees."
When the pharmacy was standing up its operation in September 2012, Cox and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Edgecomb, 21 MDS pharmacy technician and flight support chief, completely revamped it.
"Our challenges were building a fully functional pharmacy while preparing for the Consolidated Unit Inspection, and tackling the fiscal end-of-the-year close out," said Edgecomb. "It was a perfect storm."
During this time, the pharmacy staff had to restock nearly all the medications and update their equipment.
"Now, we're operational and supporting the Schriever mission and populace," Edgecomb said.
As the 21 MDS continues to expand services, so do the responsibilities of the pharmacy staff. Cox and Edgecomb who also act as flight commander and flight chief of the 21MDS support staff, which consists of laboratory services, radiology and records administration.
"Between the two of us, we split the operation of the pharmacy," Cox said.
Taking much of their time is dispensing medication, their primary function. Additionally, Cox and Edgecomb order all medications through the 21st Medical Group logistics department at Peterson Air Force Base.
As soon as the shipment arrives, the team must store and organize the medications. They also have to account for all the narcotics every day, and if even one is missing, the staff has to look in every nook and cranny of the facility.
"No one is going home until we find that one [missing] pill," Cox said.
But this rarely happens to the well-choreographed team.
"We are getting to the point where we know our population well and are able to keep our shelves stocked with exactly what we need when we need it," Cox said.
For out-of-stock medications, the Schriever pharmacy works with the Peterson facility to ensure the availability of medications.
Prior to standing up a fully-functioning pharmacy, people would drop their prescriptions at the window but everything was processed at the Peterson pharmacy. Most prescriptions were available within three to four hours, and for some medications, it would take a full day. Since the facility began operating with a dedicated pharmacist, the wait time for customers is only five to 20 minutes.
Additionally, the pharmacy has increased the number of prescriptions it provides to Team Schriever from 25 to approximately 80 prescriptions per day, "and it's steadily growing," Cox said.
"We work closely with the providers creating a formulary to enhance our patient's medication availability for one stop care," Edgecomb said. "They can come here and get back to work quickly."
To ensure the continuity of pharmacy services on base, Cox and Edgecomb are encouraging base personnel to enroll in the Schriever clinic. Dependents can call 1-888-874-9378 for more information. Active-duty members can establish enrollment in the Schriever clinic by visiting the nearest TRICARE Service Center.
"Obviously, the benefits include convenience," Cox said. "As far as getting prescriptions filled on base, it's really the best, if not the only option for many people."
Lt. Col. Brent Sonday, 21 MDS commander, said he is very proud of the outstanding progress Cox and Edgecomb have made in their expansion of the Schriever pharmacy over the past five months.
"Their efforts have already significantly impacted the Schriever mission saving an estimated 3,000 man hours in travel time between Schriever and other area military pharmacies," Sonday said.
The Schriever Pharmacy is open for uninterrupted service five days a week. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information about the pharmacy, call 567-4423.