Keeping the base fit to fight, one patient at a time
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Let's say you have a serious condition that was kept under control with the help of prescribed medication. What happens if that medication is no longer available to you?
Circumstances such as this can easily turn deadly. However, thanks to the 35th Medical Group's pharmacy, base residents don't need to worry about that scenario.
Pharmacy personnel at the 35 MDG are required to know what drugs they are giving to patients, what they do, what they're for, the correct doses and possible interaction certain medications can have with each other. They must also ensure that the prescription's directions are clear to the patient before they leave with their medication.
"We make sure the medications you are taking are safe and that the dose is appropriate," said Dr. Jessica Behrens, 35th Medical Support Squadron staff pharmacist.
Dating back to 2600 B.C. in ancient Babylon, clay tablets documented one of the earliest records of the practice of apothecary. On the tablets were medical texts recording symptoms, prescriptions and the directions for mixing certain types of remedies.
Though once commonly referred to as apothecaries, they now go by the modern equivalent of the word -- pharmacists. A pharmacist in the United States is a graduate from the Doctor of Pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
"The majority of medications are mass-produced in tablets, capsules, elixirs, and syrups," said Capt. David Vuong, 35 MDSS staff pharmacist.
When a patient's medication is not available for order from other manufacturers, the pharmacy has master recipes for compounding drug products.
The pharmacy provides medications for over 10,000 beneficiaries on base including active duty Air Force, Army and Navy, dependents, retirees and contractors. The base pharmacy fills approximately 200 prescriptions daily and averages 80,000 medicinal needs fulfilled annually.
"We use automated technology in the pharmacy to ensure accuracy and efficiency to reduce wait time in the pharmacy," said Capt. My Nguyen, 35 MDSS pharmacy flight commander. "In addition to our medication preparation and dispensing functions, we provide annual Poison Prevention education at Sollars Elementary School and Edgren High School."
Pharmacists from the 35 MDG provide uninterrupted medication therapy in the form of the Pharmacy Refill Clinic.
"If a patient has a future appointment with the medical provider and has ran out of medications, the clinic can provide a limited emergency supply of medication for treatment up to the date of the appointment," said Nguyen.
The Pharmacy Refill Clinic is a walk-in clinic with hours of operation on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and is located in Flight Medicine on the sublevel of the hospital.
The main pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding federal holidays, warrior days and base exercises.
"You can't perform if you're not healthy, so our job is to help keep the base population healthy so they can do the missions they need to do at their maximum potential," said Behrens.