SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – The pharmacy at Desmond T. Doss Health Clinic met a milestone, Oct. 29, by filling their 100,000th prescription after 216 days of operating a drive-thru pharmacy.
At 2:20 p.m., Oct. 29, Anthony and Haydee Lavery were unexpectedly surprised as the recipients of the 100,000th prescription through the drive-thru pharmacy at Desmond T. Doss Health Clinic. While they usually pick up their medications through the refill pharmacy or another drive-thru, today was their first trip through DDHC’s drive-thru pharmacy. Anthony and Haydee Lavery were presented with a candy lei, a 100,000th prescription pad, balloons, a commander’s coin, and a $25 Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift card by DDHC’s Commander, Col. Anthony King.
When asked what he thought of DDHC’s drive-thru, Mr. Lavery stated, “This was a great experience, I like the openness of this drive-thru with both lanes.”
The road to 100,000
To understand this milestone, it’s necessary to look how the drive-thru pharmacy came to be.
As news of the pandemic spread across the globe, DDHC senior leaders asked clinic chiefs to develop concepts to keep staff and patients safe while still providing necessary care.
With safety at the forefront, for both staff and patients, leadership thought outside the box and changed the way patient care and services has been provided over the last seven months.
“Right away, we knew that our pharmacy waiting room was not suited for six feet of separation, so after several discussions between my pharmacy team and the deputies, we decided we had to find a way to operate a drive-thru pharmacy, where patients would remain in their vehicles,” said Jason Moon, the DDHC pharmacy chief.
Many challenges were identified and key steps had to come together for this concept to be executed. Challenges early on included identifying the location of the drive-thru, finding enough staff to operate it, and serving patients during inclement weather.
The staff also had to determine how to serve patients who didn’t arrive in cars, and since telephone was the primary means of communicating with patients, the staff had to find ways to communicate with patients who might not have cellphones. With every challenge pharmacy staff and key leaders found a solution to mitigate the concerns.
The staff presented the drive-thru pharmacy concept to the clinic commander on March 23.
“We knew we were not the first pharmacy to move to a drive-thru operation since COVID-19 had arrived; our biggest concerns were safety and wait times,” said Col. Jason Saunders, the clinic’s deputy commander of nursing.
“Our pharmacy has been known for its quick and efficient service; we did not want to sacrifice that when moving to a drive-thru concept,” Saunders said.
The area adjacent to the Acute Care Clinic parking lot was identified as the ideal location for the drive-thru pharmacy. The staff who would go back and forth between the pharmacy and the patients in the parking lot, or “runners,” were non-pharmacy personnel; communication would be by cellphones and walkie-talkies.
“Early on, we requested assistance from 25th [Infantry Division] to support our drive-thru pharmacy with runners. This was key to ensuring our staff could continue to provide safe, quality patient care,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Geiman, DDHC’s deputy commander of health and readiness.
Logistic and infrastructure needs were immediately tackled by clinic staff. Four new long-distance phone lines were installed in the pharmacy and two large tents were set up to protect walk-up patients and runners from inclement weather.
Signs were made and placed around the clinic to direct patients to the drive-thru Pharmacy. Information was quickly provided to the community through Facebook and community events.
The drive-thru pharmacy served its first patient on March 28, just two weeks after the concept development.
DDHC’s drive-thru pharmacy has become popular with patients in its seven months of operation. One Interactive Customer Evaluation comment sent to the clinic read, “I just wanted to compliment the pharmacy based on my recent experience in the drive thru services. I was extremely impressed with the timeliness, efficiency, and attention to detail that was provided. In light of the recent pandemic, I was worried about getting refills and/or filling any new prescriptions for my children and myself. I'm happy to report that I didn't even have to get out of my car to get my prescription and I didn't feel at all as if care or safety was compromised. Well done to this entire department for adapting to the circumstances and providing safe and effective care to all of us beneficiaries. We truly appreciate it! Especially the runners who were going to and from all of the cars to drop off the meds. You all are rock stars!”
The DDHC drive-thru pharmacy averages 14,409 prescriptions per month, and is the only military treatment facility pharmacy in the state open seven days a week and most holidays.
The drive-thru pharmacy has seen several days during its operation when more than 300 cars have come through the lanes. Wait times average about 10 minutes during non-peak hours and roughly 20-25 minutes during peak hours.
DDHC’s Drive-thru Pharmacy Hours:
- Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.