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Shodair Pharmacy: Bringing Relationship to Medicine
For decades, pharmacists have been seen as the “gatekeepers” of medicine. The individuals who act as a bridge between patient and doctor. The experts who hand fill prescriptions behind the scenes. And, yet, while medication management is certainly the driving force behind Shodair’s longstanding pharmacy, this service is only half of the story.
Comprised of three full-time pharmacists – all specializing in pediatric psychiatry – Shodair’s pharmacy team acts as far more than just a gatekeeper. Working directly alongside providers, our pharmacists play an essential and hands-on role in every patient’s treatment plan. From consulting with doctors to analyzing drug effectiveness, Shodair’s pharmacists strive every day to meet two important and overarching needs: safety and education. The latter being just as important as the first.
“In psychiatry, there is evidence that readmissions and treatment failures are often related to either an inability to obtain a prescribed medicine or a general lack of understanding of a medicine’s purpose and how to take it,” said Joshua Loveland, Director of Pharmacy at Shodair. “And while mental health is complex and there are a lot of factors that can affect how that process goes once a patient returns home, our goal as a pharmacy is (and has to be) to ultimately help reduce that treatment failure and increase patient success.”
So, what does this look like at Shodair? For starters, it’s a lot about safety – checking prescribed medicines for dosage, determining drug effectiveness, ensuring availability on unit floors. That’s the front end. What sets Shodair apart, though, is the integral resource that each of our pharmacists becomes for both Shodair providers and patient families. From day one of a patient’s stay with us to the hours leading up to their discharge, our pharmacists take on the role of both educator and personal advocate. From performing rounds with providers every morning to taking consult calls and fighting for a patient’s insurance coverage, our pharmacists work around the clock to ensure that every patient has the right tools to succeed.
Approach to Medicine
One of those tools being Shodair’s overall approach to medicine. In mental health, many providers don’t have the privilege of seeing or connecting with patients on a daily basis, which can often lead to medicines being unnecessarily added. At Shodair, however, our approach is the exact opposite. When it comes to medication, our desire is to always reduce that number. Meaning, while there are certainly treatment guidelines that our pharmacists follow, our ideal number of medicines equals the fewest number possible at the lowest effective dose.
“For the general public, there’s a lot of fear around medication and understandably so,” said Loveland. “As a pharmacy, we work to educate about what position medications hold within the entire treatment mechanism, not just on their own. At the end of the day, medications play a really important role, but they’re not the magic fix.”
This same heart for relationship and understanding has also transformed Shodair’s entire discharge and follow-up process. Recognizing the overwhelming emotions that discharge day can bring, Shodair pharmacists no longer provide lengthy medication information on the day of discharge, but rather provide basic instruction and follow up a few days later to check in, educate, and answer any lingering questions. And it doesn’t stop there. In recent years, this monitoring process has been adapted to follow a child even long after they’ve left Shodair – offering Shodair’s pharmacists as a continuing resource for a patient’s next level of care.
“With mental illness, we forget that kids WANT to do well, they really do – they’re just up against a lot of barriers,” said Loveland. “That’s why, as pharmacists, it’s important for us to set aside dedicated time to really connect with providers, make follow-up calls, and meet with parents to educate about medicine in a way that is approachable and easy to understand. It’s made a huge difference for both the success of our patients and our mission here at Shodair.”
As the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in the state, Shodair is dedicated to creating a healthy and hopeful Montana through specialized psychiatric care for children and adolescents. For more information on medication management, inpatient care, or residential treatment, visit our services page or call (406) 444-7500.