Cherokee Nation to Implement Automated Central Pharmacy

April 11, 2011

Cherokee Nation pharmacy director Jeff Sanders and pharmacist Amy Christie point out features of the tribe’s new central pharmacy’s automation system. Located at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, the system will be used to fill prescriptions for pick-up at all Cherokee Nation medical facilities.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Patients of the Cherokee Nation’s health system will soon enjoy faster, more efficient pharmacy services. A new central pharmacy located at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee features an automation system that will fill prescriptions for pick-up at all Cherokee Nation medical facilities and will also be used for mail order prescription services. 

Jeff Sanders, the Cherokee Nation health system’s pharmacy director, says the central pharmacy’s automated system is highly efficient and capable of handling the large volume of prescriptions it is expected to see. 

“With this system, we will be able to fill 10,000 prescriptions per eight hour shift,” said Sanders. “It will open with a staff of 11 including four pharmacists, five techs and two clerks.” Sanders said that most traditional pharmacies fill 100 to 180 prescriptions per pharmacist in a shift of eight hours. Last year Cherokee Nation pharmacies filled almost 1,250,000 prescriptions. With its conveyor belts and quality check stations, the automated system has the appearance of a manufacturer’s assembly line. The system is software driven. It sorts, measures and packages prescriptions for distribution. The pharmacy staff will oversee the operation and be on hand to assure the quality of the prescriptions the system fills. 

Sanders says the transition to an automated central pharmacy will be seamless for patients and that there will be no interruption in their prescription drug supply. He also encourages patients to take advantage of the mail order prescription service available to them. 

“We want our people to sign up for mail order prescriptions,” said Sanders. “It cuts down on lines at the clinics, and that makes patients a lot happier.” 

The new pharmacy service is scheduled to be in full use by all Cherokee Nation health centers by June 30. 

During the past year, the Cherokee Nation health system saw more than 634,000 patient visits. The tribe’s hospital, eight health centers, emergency medical services and various health programs work as a team for the benefit of the patients. 

Cherokee Nation Health Services is the first tribal health care system nationwide and the first in Oklahoma to receive the Det Norske Veritas Healthcare Accreditation, a worldwide accreditation that focuses on the quality of patient care throughout an entire health care system. The DNV accreditation matches the Cherokee philosophy of “gadugi,” meaning working together for the benefit of all.

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