Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare debuts new pharmacy

·4 min read

Aug. 5—A new pharmacy designed for Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare has opened at the agency's rapid access center in Astoria.

Representatives from the agency and Genoa Healthcare, which operates the pharmacy, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon to mark the grand opening on Bond Street.

Amy Baker, the executive director of Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare, Clatsop County's mental health and substance abuse treatment provider, said the agency pursued the partnership because they needed more assistance, down to making sure their medications were bubble packed correctly.

She said that while it may seem small, it is important that people get the right number of medications at the right time. She said that because the pharmacy is integrated with the other services Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare provides, it helps provide more curated care.

Baker shared an example of a woman who is partially deaf and blind and takes various medications for her physical and mental health.

Baker said the woman used to have to walk to different pharmacies to get her prescriptions filled. When Genoa Healthcare opened, she said the pharmacist tracked down all of the woman's doctors and pharmacies and got everything transferred. She said the pharmacist drove the medications to the woman's home and arranged to have them mailed to her going forward.

Baker likened Genoa Healthcare to Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare.

"Genoa is not just a pharmacy," she said. "They're a pharmacy with a heart. And that's the thing about CBH that I love about CBH. I think some of the most important work that we do — that I'm so proud of our staff — is we see people. We see them as human beings.

"And that's what Genoa does, too. They look at whatever situation someone is in and they say, 'How can I help?' 'How can I help make this better for you?' Not, 'How can I quickly get your medications to you and out of here so I can serve the next person?' But, 'How can I help you?'"

Katie Lozano, Genoa Healthcare's director of operations for Oregon, said the partnership allows pharmacy staff to work alongside Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare's medical team to provide integrative care.

"We can go right down the hall and ask the provider a question, solve insurance problems, solve any issues so that they can get their medication and take them home," she said.

Lozano cited a peer reviewed study that found when pharmacy services are integrated with health care providers, people are more likely to get their medications and stay on their medication plans. The arrangement lowers rates of hospitalization and emergency care and improves health care outcomes, according to the study, which was sponsored by Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health and funded by Genoa.

Baker called the pharmacy an important step in the agency's evolution.

"The thing that I've been experiencing since I've been here is that we keep identifying needs that aren't getting met in the community," she said. "And those needs are big."

She said the agency has tried to tackle some of the larger issues that affect overall care.

Baker noted the agency's effort to try to develop housing for people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. She said the agency has recently partnered with Dr. Robert Law, a family doctor in Astoria, to figure out how to offer primary care.

"We've recently contracted with Dr. Law because we want to start looking more seriously at integration and how to bring primary care to our clients so that they're accessible and that it's approached with the same level of care and compassion that we try to bring to the table each time we work with the folks that we serve," Baker said.

The agency does not have a psychiatrist, but has contracted with Iris Telehealth, a telepsychiatry company based in Austin, Texas, for several years.

While Baker said it would be easier to have a psychiatrist locally, she said the arrangement has worked well.

"It's an important evolution in our growth as an organization," Baker told the crowd at the ribbon-cutting Thursday about the pharmacy. "It's not the last step. We've got many, many steps to go, but it's an important step."