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NEWS | May 16, 2017

MCAHC pharmacy cuts hours, shortens wait times

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In today’s military, units are constantly looking to make improvements and achieve growth in customer care. This is no different for the medical professionals at McDonald Army Health Center at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

Although the pharmacy has shortened its operating hours, now closing at 5 p.m. each day rather than the previous 6 p.m., pharmacists and technicians have increased the amount of patients they provide services to.

Using a new queuing system in the main pharmacy, U.S. Army Maj. Adam Resnick, McDonald Army Health Center Department of Pharmacy Service chief, and his staff analyzed data regarding the times of day that beneficiaries were utilizing the pharmacy. With that information, the team balanced the limiting factors in their daily operations.

 “One of the things we learned from the new system was we were having large amounts of patients come in at lunch time and we wouldn’t be able to take care of that patient flow until one or two hours down the line,” said Resnick. “Also, more patients were coming in the mornings rather than the afternoons. So by closing an hour earlier, we’re able to rearrange our shifts so we’ve got all of our windows open at the same time and we’re able to help patients by decreasing their wait time.”

With seven outpatient pharmacists staffing four different sites, MCAHC staff members provide approximately 30,000 prescriptions each month. In addition to their pharmacies, MCAHC personnel also provide logistics support to the clinic at Fort Story, as they work to expand their services for beneficiaries.

“Although we’re always busy, wait times have dramatically decreased,” said Resnick. “We’re gone from roughly 76 percent of our patients serviced within 30 minutes to now 98 percent within 30 minutes. Our team’s morale is even higher now because all of us are working together as a team to help our patients and service them better.”

To provide customers with swift service, Dr. Jessica Pruitt, MCAHC lead pharmacist, recommends patients pay close attention to the options on the queuing system in the lobby.

“With the new system, you scan your ID card, so in the back we can actually see who is in the lobby--we have their information so we can go into the system before they even arrive to the window, and in a lot of cases their medications are already ready before we actually call them,” said Pruitt. “It’s important to ensure beneficiaries are scanning the ID of the patient, not the sponsor’s ID or the ID of the individual authorized to pick up a prescription on their behalf, such as a parent or guardian.”

According to Pruitt, patients most likely to see wait times longer than 30 minutes are those who bring in handwritten prescriptions, rather than using the electronic prescription or telephone refill options.

“Call-in refills allow us to already have prescriptions ready for you at the refill pharmacy next to military sales in the Post Exchange,” said Pruitt. “Electronic prescriptions give us the ability to analyze prescriptions while patients are driving here from their civilian provider’s officer, rather than us having to look at a hard copy and deciphering handwriting.”

Though the hours have shortened in the pharmacy, there’s a lot going on behind-the-scenes where technicians and pharmacists are ensuring they are providing necessary care to patients and storing all medications properly.

“Safety is our number one priority, so when we process prescriptions it’s a lot more than just sticking pills in a bottle,” said Pruitt. “We need to make sure it’s the right patient, dose, frequency and timing.”

As a reminder, all pharmacies on the installation close at noon on the third Thursday of each month for training. Pharmacies are also closed on Sundays and holidays.

The Pharmacy hours are as follows:

Main Pharmacy

- Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

- Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Refill Pharmacy

- Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

- Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Third Floor Pharmacy

- Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

- Closed on Saturday