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SAVANNA-LA-MAR HOSPITAL PHARMACY HAS HIGHEST NHF CLAIM IN PUBLIC SECTOR

SAVANNA-LA-MAR HOSPITAL PHARMACY HAS HIGHEST NHF CLAIM IN PUBLIC SECTOR

The Savanna-la-mar Public Hospital Pharmacy in the Western Health Region has achieved the admirable position of being the public sector pharmacy with the highest value of claims to the National Health Fund (NHF). Last year the NHF upgraded ten public sector pharmacies, including the Savanna-la-mar Hospital in preparation for the introduction of the individual benefits which requires the use of its swipe card.

The pharmacy upgrade is part of the mandate of the National Health Fund (NHF) to provide support to the public health systems to ensure that they improve the quality of their services to the public and to provide access to NHF benefits. Phase two of the upgrading programme is now underway. Seventeen pharmacies are being improved in this phase.

Miss Alicia Smith, chief pharmacist at the hospital says ?The upgrading of the pharmacy by the NHF was a big deal for us, especially the computerization of our operations.? She remembers the first tentative steps taken in using the first NHF swipe card from a beneficiary in September last year. She noted that this was the first time most staff members were using a computerized system for processing prescriptions and accessing an insurance provider and so the first steps were anxious ones.

However having embraced the new computerized system and the benefits of the NHF, the pharmacy has consistently increased its claims over time and is playing a significant role in helping NHF beneficiaries in Westmoreland to access medication for managing their chronic conditions.

Among the factors contributing to this accomplishment, is the hard work by staff who are very pleased with the significant improvement in the physical facilities at the pharmacy. In addition the benefits of the NHF are promoted to clients who use the pharmacy and who would qualify for the benefits but are not yet enrolled. Persons with the NHF card are encouraged to use their cards and clients are regularly asked for their cards when they present their prescriptions.

Miss Smith pointed out that when clients use their NHF cards everybody benefits. ?Many clients benefit by getting significant help with their medication, especially in my experience the diabetics on insulin benefit significantly?

The institution also benefits. ?When clients use their NHF card at the pharmacy, this helps the pharmacy to increase its income which in turn helps us to provide drugs on a consistent basis?, the chief pharmacist says.

The income from the pharmacy for March this year was 80% higher than that for April 2003 and this increase was contributed to by the introduction of the NHF. This has led the pharmacy to add the more highly demanded drugs on the NHF list in order to improve their client satisfaction rate.

Miss Smith, who is also a former executive member of the Pharmaceutical Association of Jamaica and a present member of the Pharmacy Council, bemoans the lack of staff which has been a major setback in improving service delivery and waiting time which has still not improved significantly even with the computerization of the service. However there is a positive development with the introduction of the computerized system. It has enabled the pharmacists to significantly improve the management of patients? pharmaceutical care as it stores patients? profiles and enables easy search of files as opposed to doing so manually, which takes a longer time. In addition she laughs, ?I don?t know how we are going to write labels again, if the computer breaks?,

With the new wind of energy blowing through the pharmacy, this has also sparked the revitalisation of the Drugs and Therapeutic Committee at the hospital.

?It?s still early days yet, the NHF is still in its infancy and we are seeking new ways to improve our operations here at the pharmacy, while working with the NHF to identify weaknesses and strengthen its service to us?, Miss Smith points out. In the meanwhile the pharmacy hopes to increase the level of claims to the NHF even more, as it seeks to improve pharmaceutical services to clients in Westmoreland.

The concept of the National Health Fund is to bring a public health management approach to the problem of chronic illness under two major components.

The NHF Individual Benefits component started with delivery of services in August 2003, and supports registered persons for the purchase of specific pharmaceuticals for the treatment of specific chronic illnesses.

The NHF Institutional Benefits is designed to provide assistance to private and public sector organizations for projects and covers all areas of healthcare delivery. NHF Institutional Benefits started with the pharmacies upgrade and is accepting projects from the public health sector. It supports national health promotion and protection activities, encouraging health living, thereby seeking to reduce the burden of chronic illnesses, and provide funding for the public sector healthcare institutions.

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