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Local Care Providers Integrate Clinical Pharmacist into Primary Care

01/03/2018

Collaborative Initiative an Attempt to Fill Gap in Physician Shortage

Eureka, CA (January 3rd, 2018) – St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County (SJH-HC) and St. Joseph Health Medical Group (SJHMG) have partnered to introduce a clinically trained, hospital pharmacist into primary care. The collaboration is part of a deep-dive strategy to address the growing need for primary care providers in Humboldt County. Lyndsey Chamberlain, Pharm D, began her new role in the outpatient clinic setting in mid-November with SJHMG 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 improving the health of diabetic patients through medication management and education, thereby 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 and expertise of each one of the providers so as to effectively standardize the prescribing of medication throughout the primary care clinic.”

The clinical pharmacist is in an excellent position to offer “curbside” medication consultations to assist medical providers and patients, improving clinical outcomes. They are also in a good position to focus their efforts on patients with complicated medication regimens and help them to simplify their regimens. This novel, developing role for a hospital trained pharmacist will bring new and unrealized value to the outpatient care setting.

Chamberlain, who spent 12 years at SJH-HC as a clinical pharmacist and Area Manager of Pharmacy Services for St. Joseph Hospital 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 track 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 number 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 Hospital 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, WA and Portland, OR 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 primary care.

SJH-HC is hopeful to further expand the role 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.

About St. Joseph, Health Humboldt County

St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County (SJHS-HC) is committed to meeting the highest standards in health care delivery while ministering to the needs of the whole person – body, mind and spirit. This commitment to the people of the North Coast is expressed in the St. Joseph Health System's four core values - Dignity, Service, Excellence, and Justice. The health care ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange began in Humboldt County during the flu epidemic of 1918. The Sisters opened the first St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka in 1920 and committed to continually improving the health and quality of life of the people served. This commitment continues today and has been further defined by the vision of the SJHS-HC - to bring people together to provide compassionate care, promote health improvement, and create healthy communities.

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