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Taking multiple medications can be confusing. Which one do you take first? How will they interact? What are the possible side effects?
Being prescribed a medication can lead to so many questions. Fortunately, Middlesex Hospital and the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) School of Pharmacy have teamed up to help, expanding an existing partnership to offer patient consultations and physician educational opportunities. It’s a move that benefits Middlesex patients, giving them a chance to ask questions and take an active role in their health care.
The partnership between the Hospital and the university began in 2011 when Middlesex staff began serving as preceptors for the experiential training of USJ pharmacy students. It expanded in 2016 to provide for the clinical training of additional student pharmacists through the placement of USJ faculty at the Hospital. Now, the partnership includes an initiative that delivers pharmaceutical care in an outpatient setting – with the focus on the special needs of patients who may have concurrent illness and be taking multiple medications.
In January, Middlesex Hospital Primary Care began working with USJ pharmacy students. The students are working with their professor, Alaina Rotelli, on comprehensive medication management.
The students are in their last year of pharmacy school and must complete advanced pharmacy practice rotations before graduation. This new partnership fulfills that requirement for 10 students each year.
Rotelli and her students meet face-to-face with patients who visit Middlesex Hospital Primary Care offices in Middletown and Portland to discuss their medications, and the group will soon offer e-consults for Primary Care’s other offices. For those preparing to see their physician after a Hospital stay, Rotelli is looking at medications prescribed upon Hospital discharge to ensure that it is appropriate, and Rotelli and her students are evaluating value-based contracts by weighing medication options. The goal is to increase the quality of care, while lowering costs.
And there’s more.
Rotelli and her students are developing a curriculum that will be used to educate Middlesex physicians, and they are creating a pharmacy newsletter. This will allow physicians to learn about medication from a pharmacist rather than a pharmaceutical company. Dr. Israel Cordero, medical director of Middlesex Hospital Primary Care, calls this unbiased education.
While the partnership certainly benefits the Hospital and its patients, it also helps the students. Rotelli says the experience allows her students “real-world experience that they don’t get in school.”
When asked what advice she gives patients, Rotelli doesn’t hesitate.
“The most important advice I like to give patients is to be educated about your medications,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions about them. The biggest problem I see with patients is that they don’t know why they are taking a medication. They just know that they need to. By explaining to a patient why they are on a particular medication, they tend to feel more comfortable about taking it, and it helps them to take a more active role in their health care.”
Rotelli also encourages patients to keep an updated medication list with them at all times. Potential errors can be avoided if there is an updated list to reference.
How do you know if you need a pharmacist’s help?
You should consider speaking with a pharmacist if you:
Are overwhelmed by your medications
Have trouble affording your medications
Wonder what your medications are for
Wish you could do something about the side effects
Worry that you are not taking medications in the right order or at the correct time of day
Are concerned that your medications are affecting your overall health
While there is still much to learn about COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, we do know it is contagious. Fortunately, there are steps that you and your loved ones can take to help limit spread of the virus.
Cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, have been confirmed around the world, including in the United States. It is important that you know about this virus—even if you don’t travel internationally. You should know when and where to seek help.