Chances are, if you live and work anywhere on or near the East Coast, you were affected by the recent storm that brought snow and sleet to the area in the month of October for the first time in many years. That the severity of the storm was relatively mild compared to other weather events in recent memory is beside the point; the strange combination of heavy, wet snow and trees still laden with leaves led to, in some cases significant disruptions to daily life. Such disruptions easily translate to our work duties, and in health care, this can be a serious concern.
Many homes and businesses remained without power for seven to ten days, wreaking havoc on schedules and the ability to stay apace of the lightning fast information exchanges taking place in pharmacy care. The problem wasn’t losing power at a hospital; rather it was the ramifications of community-wide electrical failures on peoples’ personal lives that created such difficulties. In this day and age, a dead smart phone can be a critical breakdown in one’s ability to work properly.
This recent experience brings up a valuable point: Sometimes we take ourselves for granted when taking an inventory of systems that rely on seamless operation in order to avoid errors. The vast majority of hospitals and health systems have extensive and sophisticated protections against things like inclement weather and power failures, but do you? A loss of electricity at home places significant burdens on individuals, families, and activities outside the hospital, and even though it may seem like you live at the hospital sometimes, the reality is that we all need to be able to recharge, both figuratively and literally, in order to provide the best level of attention and care at work.
Obviously this example is an aberration, but preparing for aberrations is a crucial part of every pharmacy director’s duties. It can be a valuable exercise to recast some of the safety nets and error-prevention measures applied in the pharmacy to life outside the workplace. Do you have a secondary communication system in place to reach friends and family members in the event of phone, computer, or power breakdowns? Can you provide for basic needs—heat, food, water, light—until the failure is repaired? These are issues you as a pharmacy manager face everyday when it comes to medication management and patient safety measures; why not look at your own life under the same lens? After all, if pharmacists, administrators, technicians, nurses, and physicians cannot bring their best and sharpest abilities to the workplace, all the fancy computer systems in the world will not make up for it.
Taking a few moments to ensure you are covered at home will help avoid problems at work when that next, inevitable storm passes through.
All the best,
R. Mitchell Halvorsen
P.S. Pharmacy Purchasing & Products would like to congratulate the winner of our most recent survey of pharmacy directors, Teresa Lee-Yu, PharmD! Teresa is the director of pharmacy at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California. As the randomly selected winner from among all completed submissions to PP&P’s Chemotherapy Compounding Practices survey, Teresa will win a 50” Panasonic Viera 1080P/600H plasma 3D HDTV!
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