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Pocatello pharmacy partners with care facility to improve medicine technology

The Snake River Pharmacy in Pocatello has partnered with a skilled long-term care facility to provide new technology to help with medication efficiency.

“The Omnicell is an emergency dose machine which allows a skilled nursing facility to retrieve medications at instantaneous speed, if you will,” explained D.J. Mills, chief operating officer for Snake River long term care pharmacy.

The pharmacy has partnered with Gateway Transitional Care in Pocatello to improve technology to help with efficiency and all other aspects of patient medication care. So the pharmacy brought in Omnicell, which can store up to 700 medications.

Mills said when Gateway has a late-night admission, or a new admission who requires immediate medication, waiting on a pharmacy to process, fill it and get it to the care center can take too long and time is critical. He said at a 24-7 nursing care facility like Gateway, having constant, instant access to medications is a must.

“Omnicell is crucial,” said Brooke Burt, an RN and assistant director of nursing at Gateway. “It not only allows us to give the patients their meds quickly because we’re not waiting for pharmacy, it’s better patient care, they’re not having to wait for pain medication. We can get in there, get it to them.”

That’s especially important in cases where pain medication, like narcotics, is needed. Or when a patient has a condition like seizures, every second matters.

“Five minutes can seem like an hour,” Burt said.

Omnicell is not only faster, it’s also secure – not just anyone can access the medication.

“You have a user name that you can type in and then you can do a password or we can do fingerprints,” Mills said.

Omnicell is also efficient for keeping track of where, when, who, why and how much of a medication goes to. Gateway has several patients and too many meds to count so an efficient machine like Omnicell can really make a difference.

“We have up to 88 patients and most of those are on anywhere from five to 20 plus meds that they’re taking throughout the day,” Burt said.

It’s also safer and can help protect the patients.

“Without this system, an old way of doing it, an archaic way of doing it, is to have tackle boxes with meds in each compartment and then you put a lock on it,” Mills said. “But you could just pull it out and give someone the wrong dose.”

Omnicell is the opposite. It double checks your each and every step.

“The compartment has a barcode on it and then the drug has a barcode on it,” Mills detailed. “So when you’re withdrawing that drug, you gotta scan two places to make sure we get it right. If you’ve got oxycodone and oxycontin that sound kind of the same or you just quickly look at it and you see ‘oxy’ and stop reading there, if you pull out oxycodone instead of oxycontin or vice versa, with the barcode system, that’s not going to work. It’s going to flag saying you scanned the wrong drug and you need to go back and get the right one.”

Both Mills and Burt said on each side of the aisle, they’ve seen a difference in efficiency, management and care because of Omnicell.

Mills said Omnicell is not just used for long-term care facilities. It is also commonly used in hospitals and emergency rooms for the same reasons.

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