Pharmacy manager Chelsea Argent demonstrates how medications will be distributed throughout Vernon Jubilee Hospital during a tour of the new pharmacy Friday at VJH.

Hospital fills prescription for safety

New level of care at VJH means pharmacists and lab technicians will no longer be bumping elbows in the dark, crowded, dungeon-like basement

A new level of care at Vernon Jubilee Hospital means pharmacists and lab technicians will no longer be bumping elbows in the dark, crowded, dungeon-like basement.

A bright, new, expanded pharmacy has taken over the old emergency department at VJH. The $2.2 million project featuring the latest pharmaceutical equipment, will be up and running Tuesday, Sept. 22.

“We are moving from a tiny little space in the basement, built back in the 1980’s which has never received a renovation,” said Chelsea Argent, pharmacy manager.

The new pharmacy is double the size of the existing one, making room for safer medication handling which will benefit both patients and staff.

A clean IV preparation area and clean room for parental products such as chemotherapy drugs is the biggest benefit.

The old pharmacy simply didn’t have the space or technology for a proper clean room, which ensures a sterile environment.

“The patients we care for are very sick as it is and if we contaminate it we can make them even sicker,” said Argent, adding that Vernon is now one of only a few pharmacies across B.C. which meets some of the highest levels of criteria.

The clean room also provides an extra level of care for the staff who are handling dangerous medications such as chemotherapy drugs.

Much of the chemotherapy equipment was funded through the VJH Foundation’s $97,000 contribution.

The new pharmacy also features technology improvements by the way of a pneumatic tube station.

Currently, in an emergent situation when a particular drug is needed from the pharmacy, technicians run them up. But a tube system piped through the hospital now allows medications to be placed in capsules and delivered within a few minutes.

“It allows us to deliver up medications immediately to patients,” said Argent.

Nine sinks in the new department also provide added sterilization, compared to the one sink in the old pharmacy.

A narcotic safe has also been installed.

“It allows us to have much higher security and prevent drug diversion,” said Argent. “Right now we just have a room that has all the drugs in it and it just locks with a key.”

A counselling area, which was lacking in the old pharmacy, also makes the jobs of staff easier and provides patient comfort.

“It’s really difficult to provide confidential counselling and even make the patient feel comfortable and welcome.”


With 1,400 different medications in the building, the 30 pharmacy staff members are gaining more room to prepare medications in a more secure, clean and stable environment.



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