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CANANDAIGUA, NY–Thompson Health, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) and the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College are teaming up to enhance pharmacy services in the Finger Lakes area.


The three organizations are supporting a new program in which faculty and students at the pharmacy school will work at Thompson Health, which has 113 acute care beds and 188 long-term care beds in Canandaigua, Ontario County.


Officials hope the program will improve outcomes by promoting patient safety, reduce costs, and help bolster the number of pharmacists who want to work in a community hospital that serves a rural population. The new program will entail:


  • Stephanie Brian, Pharm. D., an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. John Fisher College, will work at Thompson Health. Dr. Brian will do patient education and work with hospital staff to enhance patients’ understanding of their medication, among other tasks.


  • Second-year pharmacy students will train at Thompson Health during the summer.


  • A $50,000 Excellus BCBS grant will help support the program.


“Thompson Health has always been focused on quality, and now with Dr. Brian’s help, we can make sure patients are also educated about their medicine regimens at the same time as they are dispensed,” said Robert J. Locke, director of pharmacy and cardiopulmonary services at Thompson Health.


“We are grateful to St. John Fisher College and Excellus BCBS as partners in this unique new venture for the Rochester region. Having clinical faculty on site at a community hospital will add great value to the health care in the region as well as enhance workforce potential,” said Linda Janczak, president and chief executive officer of Thompson Health.


Too often, community hospitals and other nonprofit facilities can have trouble attracting pharmacists and competing with the larger salaries and signing bonuses often offered by retail pharmacies. The national pharmacist shortage further compounds this problem.


“By exposing these students to community hospital work early in their studies, we’ll hopefully be opening their minds to working in such settings upon graduation,” Brian said.


Dr. Brian, during her time at Thompson Health, will work with the hospital’s long-term care and acute care units. She will help patients better manage their medication, especially if they are taking many different prescriptions. She’ll be looking at, for example, whether a patient is taking any unnecessary drugs and if a patient’s drug can be substituted for one that is more economical yet works equally well.


“We want to look at patients’ medications in a more global fashion, especially if they are taking many different medications prescribed by many different doctors,” she said.


Dr. Brian and the pharmacy team also hope to educate patients about their medications earlier in their hospital stay, and not as they are leaving the facility and distracted by their desire to return home.


Excellus BCBS’ grant will help fund Brian’s stipend.


“Excellus BCBS is supporting this program because of its potential to enhance three areas of health care—workforce development and patient safety and education—that are critical to ensuring that Canandaigua-area residents get the care they need,” said Scott Ellsworth, regional president of Excellus BCBS.


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