Traveling from a place where most medications will arrive within one to two business days after ordering to a place where it can two weeks or longer for the medications to arrive, SLV Health Pharmacy Director Carole Tucker, PharmD, MS, said her visit to Guam showed her how much is taken for granted here. 

Carole was on the small island in the North Pacific Ocean (west of the Philippines) in early May at the invitation of University of Colorado PharmD student, Vangie Phillips, who had recently completed her clinical rotations at SLV Health. Questioning Carole about how the hospital had upgraded its processes, Vangie later arranged for funding to bring Carole to her work place in Guam, an English-speaking U.S. territory. "I got to tour the Naval hospital, the civilian hospital and their outpatient clinics, andmake recommendations on how they could improve to get to the new practice standard for compounding intravenous medications because the standards have changed a lot," Carole said.

Better Protocols Mean Safer Work Environments

Additionally, she was able to share a procedure that is used at SLV Health to track any potential employee exposure to chemotherapy in case of exposure. "They don't have any of that and they were actually being exposed to quite a big amount of chemo," she said. She met with their engineers and made some recommendations, such as moving the hood so it would vent outside. She noted that while adherence to this Center for Disease Control requirement is taken for granted in the U.S., the protocol was welcome advice in from Alamosa to Guam, pharmacy director shares her expertise their clinic.

On her second day in Guam, Carole gave a presentation on sterile compounding procedures and chemo medications and what employees need to do to protect themselves and their patients to ensure that there is no potential for bacterial contamination in the medications and how to implement the standards. "For chemo we use something called a closed system transfer device," she said. "I had contacted our pharmaceutical rep and he sent me a bunch of samples and we got to use them and do some hands on training."

Partnership Planned for the Future

As her presentation wrapped up, the pharmacy staff told Carole they hope to bring her back next year for a longer visit. This trip would have a two fold purpose: the continued exchange of information to improve their pharmacies would be foremost. But also on the schedule would be a swim with non-poisonous jelly fish – an opportunity, Carole said, she would never take for granted.

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