St. Mary’s revamps inpatient pharmacy

Phil Castle, The Business Times

A Swisslog Healthcare BoxPicker installed in the inpatient pharmacy at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction combines robotics and computer software to store and retrieve medications. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction has revamped its inpatient pharmacy to improve efficiency and safety.

The operation includes one of the largest robotic systems of its kind in Colorado to store and retrieve medications, said Rudy Bormann, director of pharmacy services at St. Mary’s. “Human involvement in picking and packing drugs led to more errors. But now the BoxPicker fully automates medication storage and retrieval, which not only eliminates picking errors, but also increases safety at dispense.”

Located on the first floor of the hospital, the renovated pharmacy opened March 2.

Bormann said the facility was enlarged and redesigned to streamline operations, improve medication dispensing and enhance patient safety while also reducing costs. 

The pharmacy includes cleanrooms as well as a larger suite that exceeds regulations for compounding sterile drugs.

Computer software and scanning technology manages medications from purchase to storage to dispensing and is integrated with medical records, he said.

The Swisslog Healthcare BoxPicker system installed in the pharmacy is one of the largest of its kind in operation in Colorado, Bormann said, with a total of more than 1,000 compartments for refrigerated and nonrefrigerated medications. 

Rudy Bormann

The system not only stores medications in a smaller space, but affords room for additional capacity, he said.

Storage and pass-through capabilities for the new cleanrooms eliminate the need to enter to deliver stock.

Computer workstations connect technicians to the robotic system, which selects and retrieves medications. That means technicians spend less time locating, picking and verifying medications and more time on other tasks, Bormann said.