ONONDAGA, N.Y. — Upstate Medical University announced it has opened a second outpatient pharmacy across from Upstate Community Hospital on Onondaga Hill.
The new outpatient pharmacy is located at 5000 W. Seneca Turnpike at the intersection of Broad Road in the building that Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists (SOS) previously occupied.
Upstate Medical said it began leasing the 4,200-square-foot space late last year. It has invested more than $2 million in renovations and equipment and held a formal-opening ceremony on July 15.
About 15 people will work in the new facility, which includes a walk-up counter for employees and patients.
The new pharmacy will support the Meds to Beds program at Upstate Community Hospital. It will handle all of Upstate’s mail-order prescriptions and will specialize in compounding, which is the mixing of complex pharmaceuticals in specialized dosages and forms.
Upstate Medical University opened its first outpatient pharmacy downtown in June 2018. The pharmacy created a “highly utilized and efficient” Meds to Beds program that ensures patients leave the hospital with “critical” medications in hand, the organization said in a release. Today, Upstate’s outpatient pharmacy mails about 2,000 prescriptions per month, personally delivers 600 packages a month, and has a staff of 12 insurance-authorization specialists and two medication-assistance coordinators.
In a little more than three years, outpatient-pharmacy staff has grown from zero to more than 60 employees, Eric Balotin, director of retail/specialty pharmacy services, said.
“We have saved patients more than a million dollars on their prescription costs in the last year,” he added. “And we’re on track to do more than that this year.”
The new pharmacy is also home to Upstate’s new pill-packaging machine, which produces individualized pill packs based on dosing time (morning, noon, evening and bedtime) that are proving “popular and effective” for patients, Upstate Medical said. Every hour, the machine can produce 1,200 pouches, which are portioned and labeled for different times of the day.
Many patients require four pouches per day, meaning the machine can produce monthly packs for about 10 patients per hour. Another new machine provides a high level of quality control by checking up to 2,400 medications per hour to ensure the patient is receiving the correct medication, Eric Balotin, director of retail/specialty pharmacy services, said.
“The pill packs, the Meds to Beds program, and many of the other things we’re doing significantly reduce hospital readmission rates related to adverse medication problems,” Balotin said in the release. “We’re hoping to get 300 to 400 patients using the pill packs, which can be mailed directly to our patients. We are trying to keep people out of the hospital and trying to keep them safe from medication adverse effects.”
The pill packs use symbols and images as instructions, which is helpful in cutting across language barriers, Balotin noted.