By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Earlier in September, the Athens-Limestone Hospital Surgical Expansion project was completed, celebrated, and opened for business. It is located in what is now being called the medical district down and across from the Publix shopping center. The address is 22454 US Highway 72, Athens, AL. The surgical tower houses four outpatient surgical suites, lab/imaging services, OrthoSport, which is now TOC (The Orthopaedic Center), and has physician office space. There are a number of services to talk about with respect to the stunning new facility, but an important one, as well as the focus of this article is the pharmacy.
ALH community pharmacy is run by Sara Glenn Tanksley, PharmD; and Certified Pharmacy Technician, Erica Allison. Sara had wanted to be in health care ever since she was a young girl, and her sister is also a pharmacist. She finds that the hours fit well with being the mother of an 8-month-old baby girl, as well as the wife of Hampton (Hamp), who farms with Sara’s dad. (They grow cotton, soybeans, and wheat on Hamp’s father-in-law’s farm in Ripley.) Both Sara and Erica have worked in several area pharmacies, and while they will tell you that starting up a brand new pharmacy has been at times daunting, they are both glad to have been part of the surgical tower team. Some of the challenges have been getting communication and contracts with the insurance companies squared away, as well as the usual “punch list” of tiny things that invariably accompany brand new construction. They both told me that they like their new location very much.
One of the features of the pharmacy is a drive-through lane, where customers can call ahead and have their prescription waiting for them at the window. The pharmacy also offers what is known as “discharge prescription service,” which is explained below.
Sara chuckled as she told me that she grew up with the idea that “pharmacists didn’t talk to people.” She is just a touch shy, so early in her career talking to people about their prescriptions was outside of her comfort zone. Since then it has become one of her favorite things about the job, and she understands the importance of knowing as well as protecting her clients. To that end, she gets to do something that is an old-fashioned level of attentive patient care, and that is what she calls bedside delivery, or in the parlance of the profession, “discharge prescription service.” People who have come to the center for surgical procedures can have their medications delivered to them personally while they are still recovering in their room. They also get a chance to ask any questions, express any concerns, and become fully aware as to the details of how and when to take their medications. They also know that they can call Sara at the pharmacy if anything comes up that might need to be relayed to their attending physician or health care team. I am old enough to remember doctors who not only made house calls, but often brought medications in their black bag, and I remember how much both my parents and I appreciated that extra level of patient care and customer service.
Being a pharmacist these days carries a level of responsibility that is different than it was in past generations. First, there are so many more prescription medications on the market, and the number of possible drug interactions is greater. Add to that the potential for cross-medication as well as the current opioid crisis about which we hear so much in the news, and you can begin to imagine just how much a pharmacy has to be alert, observant, and ready to respond. Both Sara and Erica have received training in dealing with these situations and more, and I was assured after talking to them that they are up to the task. Sara said, “I am confident that prescriptions filled here are legitimate and not contributing to the opioid crisis.”
ALH Community Pharmacy accepts most insurance plans, and you can have your prescriptions filled there even if you have not been a patient at the facility. They are open from 8:30 a.m.-5p.m., Monday through Friday. The hours for the pharmacy located in the Athens-Limestone Hospital on Market Street are 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
I asked Sara and Erica why, when I have pharmacy choices all over North Alabama, should I come to them for my prescription needs. They thought for a moment and replied, “We make a good team. We are friendly and efficient, and we care about our patients.” It is good to know that we have them in our corner, and I invite you to come to the Athens-Limestone Hospital Surgical Tower and experience outstanding pharmacy care for yourself.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner