There is an old adage that says if you see something nice, say something nice. But Debra Heighter and Stephanie Rhoades--pharmacy techs at Binter Pharmacy on Fort Knox, have taken that old saying a step further. They "do something."

For the last two years the duo, along with Britney Hash, Priscilla Goff and Rosie Cochran, have organized and run a "Patient Appreciation Week" for the beneficiaries of the pharmacies on Fort Knox. The pharm techs said they want the patients to know that when the pharmacy is busy, when they are short staffed and everything that could go wrong does--the staff really does appreciate the patience and good will with which their beneficiaries wait.

"We know, at times, our wait times are long, but we appreciate their patience, and waiting, and understanding," said Rhoades. "We want the patients to know we really do care about them, we do think of them and we want the best for them."

The idea was Heighter's brain child and after she mentioned it, Rhoades said almost everyone else jumped on board.

"Originally I wanted to do baked goods, but we can't because of sanitation and health regulations," Heighter added. "So, we did candy give always and created a grand prize of a loaded garden cart. That went over really well."

This year it's a little bigger but one thing has stayed the same--it's an all employee-volunteer effort.
Patients who pick up or refill prescriptions at Binter Pharmacy can expect to see decorations, small gift drawings, candy give away, and large basket drawings the first full week of March--the event starts Feb. 27, she noted.

As part of this event some of the staff filled out an info form with their photo on it that answers questions such as "what is your favorite hobby, favorite food, etc. It will hang in the pharmacy during that week.

Rhoades said that a lot of their patients are regulars and while the staff knows a great deal about the patient, they don't know much about the staff. She said this is a personal touch and a tool to reach out to the people they serve.

As for the decorations, the theme for the week is "Lucky" and will reflect the upcoming St. Patty's Day. Each day the crew will hand out candy, green fortune cookies, and even tattoos for kids. In fact, in the past they had kid's baskets as drawing prizes.

"Last year a little girl, about age 3 or 4, got a kid basket," Heighter remembered. "Her parents had just had a little boy and with a new little brother she was feeling left out. She won a kid basket and it was a lift for her--was sweet to watch."

During the week small give away prizes will be drawn for until Friday which, as the duo explained, is the "go big day." That's the day the pharmacy personnel wear strange hats and, or, outfits, and the day they have the big drawings.

"We have two movie baskets, a UofL and U.K., wreath as well as a 'house divided wreath,'" Heighter continued. "We have a pasta basket and a day spa basket too but you don't have to be in attendance to win and no one who works here can win anything."

The Ireland Army Health Clinic pharmacy will also participate on Friday with candy to give away. And she said some of the IRAHC pharmacy staff are members of the team that plans the "Patient Appreciation Week."

Heighter noted the teamwork it takes to plan an event like this, and said it wasn't all that different from looking out for patients like the staff does on a daily basis.

To make their point about looking out for the patients Rhoades said "Patient Appreciation Week" was a Fort Knox pharmacy employee initiative. And to make her point about teamwork, she said the money for PAW didn't come from a budget. It was all donated--from pharmacy employees.

"Our pharmacy staff has donated their time, the items, and 100 percent of the money for this event came from those who wanted to contribute," Rhoades explained.

Looking out for people is what the pharmacy staff does--not just as a "team sport" but because helping people is what most of them are drawn to do. For example, the staff has undertaken other projects such as taking the guards at the front gate snacks and, on occasion, sausage biscuits. And they noted that the clinic pharmacy assembles baskets for different clinics.

And, when one of their elderly patients comes in and has lost as spouse, the women say that the staff often takes a few minutes to come out and give that patient a hug and talk with them because, "they are our patients and have suffered a loss and we are all human. We can't imagine not doing it."

The beneficiaries who the pharm staff serves are their first concern--and showing their appreciation for those patients is what the first week in March is all about.

"It's a huge group effort to help staff on front line--it's a joint effort to make sure the patients' needs are best met," Heighter explained. "It's not just the people they see on the front windows. Without the patient we don't have a job and part of that job is trying to keep them happy and looking out for them."
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