No patient ever missed a dose thanks to the GGH pharmacy team

COVID-19 caused tremendous concern in our Pharmacy. This team of 43 staff is responsible for delivering all medications required by our patients. Guelph General Hospital is hyper-focused on patient safety. For Pharmacy, it is simply not an option to have patients miss any doses. Quickly the Pharmacy group began to reorganize to make sure that there would be no interruption to their essential services.

The entire department was divided into several smaller teams and schedules adjusted so the new teams never mixed – meaning if someone became ill with COVID-19, not all staff would be off self-isolating. Since pharmacy procedures are specific to every hospital, pulling in staff from another facility was not an option. It was of critical importance that each team could not transmit the virus to another.

The physical layout of the Pharmacy and standard operating procedures were also modified to ensure physical distancing was maintained. Pharmacy staff were constantly worried about drug shortages, especially those used to treat COVID-19 patients.

With the surge in cases in Europe and the USA, the supply lines were compromised globally. Our available drug levels were monitored daily with back ordered items tracked carefully. Pharmacy needed to maintain adequate levels of all medications without stockpiling, as that could reduce the ability of other Canadian hospitals to obtain them. Pharmacies share information about supply levels and do group purchasing to ensure that no hospital runs out. Securing adequate drug supply was a major focus of the Pharmacy team.

Chemotherapy drugs require special compounding and this service needed to be protected for the cancer treatments given daily in Ambulatory Care. The chemotherapy-trained Pharmacy staff were split into two teams to safeguard these critical treatments. Pharmacy staff were focused on making sure that cancer care never stopped.

Members of the Pharmacy staff are responsible for collecting BPMH, or ‘best possible medication history’, records. This role requires them to be present on medical units and in the Emergency Department to talk to patients, their family members, or to look at the medications they bring with them to the Hospital. To conserve PPE and reduce the risk of exposure, changes were made to accomplish this task over the phone.

We are so proud of our entire Pharmacy team and grateful for their ability to be flexible and adapt under such time pressure. We are also incredibly pleased to say that our Pharmacy never ran out of a single medication. No patient ever missed a dose. Not one!

This story originated on Guelph General Hospital’s Facebook page on July 16th, 2020 as part of its #behindthemask series to share how the Hospital is working hard to protect patients and visitors from #COVID19.