Oak Forest hospital gets new pharmacy
Monday, March 02, 2009
by Maura Possley
The three-hour wait Southlanders endure to get medications at Oak
Forest Hospital should shrink thanks to a new pharmacy opening Monday,
Cook County officials said.
The new, modernized outpatient pharmacy at the hospital replaces a
slow, delay-plagued system that patients, pharmacists and hospital
executives can't wait to make a memory.
"This is pharmacy heaven," said Warren Batts, chairman of the Cook
County Health and Hospitals System board, at Friday's ribbon cutting of
the new facility.
Officials at the Friday event characterized the pharmacy as a symbol
of the county's commitment to maintain health care services in the
"No corner will be left out," said county board President Todd Stroger. "Oak Forest will do fine in the future."
Their comments come after last month's announcement that inpatient
surgical services at Oak Forest would be cut and moved to Stroger
Hospital on Chicago's near West Side while Oak Forest's outpatient
procedures would be increased to earn more revenue for the system.
However, at least one proposal considered by the hospital board that
was outlined in a memo obtained by the SouthtownStar indicated the
hospital's outpatient surgery would be axed.
But on Friday, a spokesman for the hospital system said there are no plans to end outpatient surgeries.
Spokesman Marcel Bright explained the memo might have been an
outdated document from a period last year when county health
authorities were considering a range of plans to improve county health
services. Not every option met with approval, including the idea to cut
outpatient services, he said.
"Once a plan was developed, anything that doesn't fit was obviously discarded and not included," Bright said.
Also on Friday, Bright could not say how much money the county spent
on the new expanded hospital pharmacy, though he and other county
officials touted its new features.
The new 2,600-square-foot facility replaces a 300-square-foot,
three-room pharmacy that was so inadequate patients had to wait about
three hours to get prescriptions filled. The new pharmacy should be
able to fill requests in an hour.
Also, officials want the current 1 p.m. cut-off time for same-day
service to be extended later into the afternoon to get more patients
their pills faster, said Marty Grant, director of pharmacy hospitals
Patients will be able to sit while they wait, through an automated queue system, instead of leaning against a hospital wall.
The automated system, much like that of the Department of Motor Vehicles, allows officials to monitor wait times.
Also, two robotic machines that fill prescriptions electronically
will help speed the process and reduce errors, though the hospital has
had the machines in place for several years.
"We help a lot of people who have nowhere else to go," Grant said. "We need to make sure we stay strong."
Maura Possley can be reached at email@example.com or (708) 633-5993.