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Monday, February 06, 2023

North Florida Hospital’s new outpatient pharmacy aims to educate patients

Pharmacy result of decade of planning

With the snip of a ribbon, HCA Florida North Florida Hospital officially opened its new pharmacy — just within walking distance from its hospital in West Gainesville.

The location is intentional, said Eric Lawson, CEO of the hospital. HCA’s new outpatient pharmacy, which officially opened Wednesday morning, seeks to provide convenience and education for discharged hospital patients.

Prescriptions written by hospital staff can cause confusion for outgoing patients, as they have to drive out of the way to their pharmacy and remember to fill new prescriptions.

Ninety percent of outgoing hospital prescriptions are one-time fills, so the outpatient clinic can help patients without interfering with their main pharmacies, he said.

“We’re not trying to replace CVS and Walgreens, your hometown pharmacy that you’re using every day for your regular meds,” Lawson said.

Instead, the center includes educational resources to ensure patients are getting the right medication.

One addition is a medication reconciliation technician — a staff member who reviews what medication people came into the hospital on and checks to make sure they are discharged with the correct prescriptions.

Pharmacists will also consult which drugs are most important for patients to take, among other advice.

Andrea Koff, director of outpatient pharmacy, said the project has been in the works for a decade after she noticed the difficulties freshly discharged hospital patients face.

“We want you to understand what you’re taking and how to take it,” Koff said.

Approval of the project came in 2019, and the center was built within a year.

The pharmacy had a soft launch Dec. 15, where patients reportedly enjoyed the experience, Koff added. The center also serves as a prescription station for the thousands of employees at the hospital.

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Currently, the pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but Koff hopes to see its hours expand to further support patients. 

Similarly, there are two pharmacists and two technicians working at the pharmacy, but staff will scale as needed.

Coming off the 50 year anniversary of HCA Florida North Florida Hospital, staff said the last step would be to educate patients about the new option.

“I think it’s exciting to open up a new service for our patients and for our community on our 50th anniversary,” Lawson said.

Contact Aidan Bush at abush@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a second-year journalism major and the city and county commission reporter for the Alligator. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Citrus County Chronicle. When not writing, he enjoys creating videos, water activities and spending time with his friends.


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