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National Pharmacy Week 2021: celebrating HCA Healthcare’s Rx-perts

A group of pharmacists wearing scrubs and face masks
Pharmacy colleagues at St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, celebrate National Pharmacy Week.

As we celebrate National Pharmacy Week Oct. 17-23, HCA Healthcare pauses to acknowledge the invaluable contributions pharmacists and technicians make in our mission to care for and improve human life.

“Across HCA Healthcare, doctors, nurses and patients rely on our more than 2,500 pharmacy colleagues to ensure that each patient receives the right medication, in the right dosage, at the right time,” said Dr. Karla Miller, HCA Healthcare’s chief patient safety officer. “As experts in drug delivery, medication therapy management, utilization and so much more, pharmacists serve as critical members of our care team to improve patient outcomes. I am so proud and thankful for the collaborative safety initiatives that our pharmacy teams lead every day.”   

One way that pharmacists continue to improve patient care is through antimicrobial stewardship, a coordinated program to promote appropriate antibiotic use. Pharmacists work closely with nurses, physicians and other colleagues to monitor use and provide recommendations to reduce inappropriate prescribing. This results in shorter hospital stays for our patients and safeguards our community from multidrug resistant organisms.  

As medication experts, pharmacists also play a key role in combating the opioid crisis. HCA Healthcare pharmacists are armed with three types of technology to optimize clinician communication and to minimize opioid overuse and diversion:

  • Electronic Prescription for Controlled Substances (EPCS): EPCS allows providers to electronically transmit controlled substance prescriptions to a pharmacy.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP): PDMP allows providers and pharmacists to quickly perform medication history checks and monitor real-time controlled substance data, improving care and preventing patient harm.
  • Medication Adherence and Compliance Index (MACI): Launched in the summer of 2020, MACI is an electronic platform that aggregates data to aid in the prevention of theft of dangerous controlled substances.

Annually, in coordination with local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) national drug take back day, HCA Healthcare hosts national “Crush the Crisis” opioid take back events. To raise awareness about the dangers of opioid misuse and proper disposal of medications, HCA Healthcare pharmacy professionals and other colleagues invite community members to safely and anonymously dispose of unused or expired medications. Last year, HCA Healthcare facilities collected 13,523 pounds of medication at the “Crush the Crisis” events – an estimated 9.3 million doses.

Learn more about this year’s “Crush the Crisis” events on Oct. 23 at hcahealthcare.com/crushthecrisis.  

A pharmacy technician wearing PPE filling an IV bag with medication
Micheal P. Weishampel, a pharmacy technician at TriStar Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, compounds an IV medication for a patient.

Working together during COVID-19 and beyond

During the COVID-19 pandemic, HCA Healthcare pharmacy colleagues worked to overcome logistical obstacles and develop strategies to store, administer and provide monoclonal antibody treatments and vaccinations to patients, care teams and community members. Sharing stories of success across HCA Healthcare facilities and divisions helped pharmacy teams expedite best practices for patients.

While the roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians continues to evolve, HCA Healthcare remains committed to providing pharmacists with the tools and resources they need to deliver quality care and keep patients safe. Pharmacy residency programs at HCA Healthcare provide teaching and learning opportunities so pharmacists can maximize care delivery. These one- to two-year post-graduate education programs allow pharmacists to expand clinical knowledge, collaborate with healthcare teams and conduct research.

Meet our pharmacy colleagues

HCA Healthcare pharmacists are involved in nearly all aspects of patient care. In addition to medication therapy, pharmacists play a pivotal role in policy compliance, medication diversion, informatics and medication safety. Below, three HCA Healthcare pharmacy leaders share their career paths, day-to-day duties and how they’re working to raise the bar for healthcare everywhere.

Dr. Ayoub Chybli, director of pharmacy, The Medical Center of Aurora (Aurora, Colorado)

A man wearing a suit and tie and face mask looking in containers holding vaccines.
Dr. Ayoub Chybli, director of pharmacy at The Medical Center of Aurora, reviews COVID-19 vaccines before delivery.

Dr. Ayoub Chybli manages complex multi-campus clinical operations with current oversight over acute care, behavioral health, rehabilitation and outpatient pharmacies. His interest in healthcare began during his undergraduate years when he realized pharmacy offered him an opportunity to combine his passion for serving the community and helping people get well. This led him to his current position at The Medical Center of Aurora, where he continues to incorporate those ideologies and collaborate across disciplines to build effective safety processes and ensure patients have high-quality outcomes.

Understanding the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Chybli took on the historic and massive task of standing up vaccine clinics for colleagues and community members. With thoughtful and effective resourcing, staffing and teamwork, Dr. Chybli brought newfound hope to many through the vaccine clinics.

For his work in vaccine distribution, Dr. Chybli earned The Medical Center of Aurora’s ‘2020 Leader of the Year Award.’ The award honors those who demonstrate extraordinary leadership, devotion, expertise and support to those around them. For Dr. Chybli, the award “means that I am surrounded by amazing leaders and colleagues that work tirelessly at the system, division and facility level. There are countless leaders that are more deserving of this award – I am happy to serve and honored to be recognized.”

Dr. Luu Thuy, computer order entry pharmacist, Gulf Coast Division (Houston and South Texas)

Woman wearing orange top
Dr. Luu Thuy, computer order entry pharmacist, HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division

Dr. Luu Thuy, PharmD, is a remote computer order entry (COE) pharmacist for HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division in Texas. In her current role, Dr. Thuy works through a clinical surveillance platform to monitor, evaluate and make recommendations to assure the appropriate use of pharmaceuticals for patient care.

Dr. Thuy’s interest in pharmacy began during her time volunteering at a local Buddhist temple, where she met an abbot who happened to be a retired pharmacist. She admired his compassion toward others and respected his use of pharmaceutical knowledge to help relieve physical pain and illnesses for those who did not have access to healthcare. She went on to pursue a career in pharmacy and was among the first clinical pharmacists hired to pioneer a decentralized clinical pharmacy model at the University of Arizona Medical Center.

After accumulating clinical experience in Arizona for 13 years, Dr. Thuy relocated to Houston and joined HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division COE pharmacy department. “My role allows me to expand my clinical experience while catching and correcting medication errors before reaching our patients, and tailoring drug therapy to meet individual patients’ needs,” Dr. Thuy said. “Medication interventions require me to regularly communicate and collaborate with providers, onsite pharmacists, nurses and patients. I enjoy being part of the interdisciplinary medical team that strives to carry out HCA Healthcare’s mission.”

Jamie Birth, medication reconciliation technician, North Florida Regional Medical Center (Gainesville, Florida)

A woman wearing scrubs and a face mask standing behind a hospital cart.
Jamie Birth, a pharmacy technician at North Florida Regional Medical Center, conducts a medication reconciliation with a patient.

Jamie Birth works with a team of technicians to complete medication reconciliation for all patients admitted to her hospital, ensuring care team members have an accurate understanding of their patients’ medications.

In August 2021, the North Florida Regional Medical Center team recorded more than 1,700 medication reconciliations, of which 342 Jamie completed herself. What’s more, nearly 85% of those required clarification from sources other than the patient. This is where Jamie’s willingness to care for patients shines. She uses all resources available – whether that be reaching out to family, contacting the patient’s pharmacy or reaching out to their outpatient providers – to ensure the patient’s medication list is correct.

As a medication reconciliation technician, Jamie truly feels she is making a difference in her patients’ care.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 186 hospitals and more than 2,000 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our approximately 275,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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