Denise O’Brien was living with Type 2 diabetes when she was referred to Virginia Garcia Hillsboro. “Since losing my job, I couldn’t afford medication and I tried to control diabetes with my diet. It didn’t work. Once I was back on medication and my diabetes was controlled, I was referred to clinical pharmacist, Sarah Deines. Sarah helped me set up a program to manage my diabetes.”
VG Clinical Pharmacy meets the needs of patients like Denise. “Many of our patients try to manage diabetes without understanding the disease and how the medications work,” said Deines. “We educate them and set up diet and exercise plans and medication schedules.”
“Sarah helped me design a plan that works for me,” said O’Brien. ”I have a notebook for managing my diabetes. I track my highs and lows throughout the day and look for patterns. I know when I’m apt to hit a low and am prepared.”
The program targets three areas in controlling diabetes: Blood pressure, LDL levels (“bad cholesterol”) and A1c levels – which are the markers of diabetes control. Outcomes show an improvement for patients in all areas. Last year, Virginia Garcia showed a 25 percent improvement in patients who reached their A1c goal and a 50 percent improvement in overall outcomes.
This fall, Virginia Garcia will add a clinical pharmacist at VG Beaverton with plans for a clinical pharmacy program at each site by 2013. The program will also focus on the continuity of care between inpatient and outpatient services and has applied for a grant to focus on “Transitions of Care.” If funded, the team will study the impact of hospital discharge counseling with pharmacists and follow up with patients after they leave the hospital. “We know the transition from hospital to home is when patients are vulnerable to misunderstandings,” said Deines. “This allows us to help patients avoid errors and decreases readmissions.”
Understanding a patient’s circumstances goes far in helping them take control of their health. “Sarah really got to know me. She gets through to people.” Now I live my life and fit treatment in, instead of living my life around my disease. That’s what I’d call creative solutions.”
The Clinical Pharmacy program at Virginia Garcia improved the lives of 200 community members last year and the four pharmacies filled more than 163,000 scripts for its patients.