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Local Care Providers Integrate Clinical Pharmacist into Primary Care

12/17/2017

Eureka, CA (December 21st, 2017) – St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County (SJH-HC) and St. Joseph Health Medical Group (SJHMG) have partnered to introduce a clinically trained acute care pharmacist into the primary care setting. The collaboration is part of a deep-dive strategy to address the growing need for primary care providers in Humboldt. Lyndsey chamberlain, Pharm D, began her new role as an Ambulatory Care Pharmacist in mid-November with medical group physicians just recently transitioned from Eureka Family Practice.

In her new capacity, Chamberlain will leverage her clinical pharmacy background to provide critical support for physicians by assisting with prescription refill authorizations, ordering labs, receiving referrals from providers for in-depth medication review, and one-on-one patient consultations for diabetes and pain management. The primary focus for Chamberlain is to develop a best practice of medication management within the medical group so as to standardize care throughout the patient panel, creating a healthier community.

“Primary Care Providers have different strengths and areas of expertise when it comes to prescribing medications to treat various disease states such as diabetes, pain management hyperlipidemia, and hypertension,” said Terry Lerma, Pharm D, Area Director, Pharmacy Services, SJH-HC. “Lyndsey’s role as a clinical pharmacist integrated in the Primary care setting is to identify clinical best practices and leverage the individual strengths & expertise of each one of the providers so as to effectively standardize the prescribing of medication throughout the Primary care clinic.”

By doing so, all patients treated at this site will achieve better clinical outcomes with time. The Clinical Pharmacist is in an excellent position to offer “curbside” medication consultations to assist medical providers and patients. They are also in a good position to focus their efforts on patients with complicated medication regimens and help them to simplify their regimens to achieve desired clinical outcomes. This is a novel developing role for a hospital trained pharmacist to bring new and unrealized value to the outpatient care setting.

Chamberlain, who spent twelve years at SJH-HC as a Clinical Pharmacist and Area Manager of Pharmacy Services for St. Joseph Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital, oriented and trained for the new role this fall at three distinguished healthcare organizations in Oregon – Portland Clinic, Providence Medical Group, and Virginia Garcia Clinic. She is currently on trek to become an Advanced Practice Pharmacist, allowing her to have her own panel of patients, which was one of the main reasons why Chamberlain chose this new role.

“I missed the daily contact with patients,” said Chamberlain. “My very first patient was having a hard time managing her medications for Alzheimer’s, taking 15 different medications. We identified two that were actually making her symptoms worse, discontinued them and greatly reduced the overall panel of medications she had to take. Both the patient and spouse left my office very emotional because they were so relieved that I was able to use my training and experience to help take care of them.”

The potential for a single clinical pharmacist to make significant impacts in patient health and assist in medication management is not lost on rural care providers in communities like Humboldt County. Recent data from St. Joseph Eureka suggests that only 30% of patients seen in the Emergency Department are able to accurately detail the medications and strengths they are prescribed.

While this role is new for Humboldt County, it is considered a proven best practice for over 15 years in other areas of the country, such as the Pacific Northwest. Seattle and Portland Oregon even feature primary care clinics operated exclusively by Clinical Pharmacists working with a Medical Director. Metropolitan areas throughout the west coast (CA, WA, OR) are now realizing a surplus of highly trained clinical pharmacists while simultaneously experiencing a shortage of Primary care providers. All three states have drafted legislation to expand the role of Clinical pharmacists and encourage the integration of highly trained clinical pharmacists into the Primary care setting.

SJH-HC is hopeful to further expand the role of Ambulatory Care Pharmacists to other progressive Primary Care Organizations located in Humboldt County such as Open Door. Additionally, SJH-HC has embarked on a relationship with pharmacy schools at Oregon State University and Washington State University to provide a robust pipeline of pharmacy students to intern in Humboldt County.

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