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MacDill pharmacy team ensures patient safety

A 6th Medical Support Squadron (MDSS) pharmacy technician fills a prescription at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2019.

A 6th Medical Support Squadron (MDSS) pharmacy technician fills a prescription at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2019. Approximately 602,000 prescriptions are filled by the 6th MDSS pharmacy team each year ensuring proper medical care and readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kamryn Banks, a 6th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, reviews a prescription before handing it to a patient at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kamryn Banks, a 6th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, reviews a prescription before handing it to a patient at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2019. More than 2,500 prescriptions are filled daily by the 6th MDSS pharmacy team, providing trusted care to service members and families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sydney Klinger, a 6th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, locates a prescription bottle at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sydney Klinger, a 6th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, locates a prescription bottle at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 11, 2019. Two combatant commands, two Air Force wings and coalition partners rely on the four 6th MDSS pharmacy clinics to ensure the health and readiness of their service members.

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The 6th Medical Support Squadron’s pharmacy team at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida serves more than 215,000 beneficiaries and strives to create the best customer service experience.

More than 19,000 military personnel, 2,800 civilians, 34,600 dependents and a large population of retired military personnel call the MacDill area home, keeping the pharmacy team in high demand.

“Our pharmacy team manages approximately 2,500 prescriptions and 400 phone calls daily,” said Senior Master Sgt. J’Valyn Vaughn, the 6th MDSS pharmacy flight chief.

To manage this large number of beneficiaries seeking prescription orders and refills, the pharmacy is split among four clinics, each with their own clientele, including the Brandon Clinic off-base.

“Our PharmaCARE Center is primarily for civilians or members with electronic prescription referrals from off base while the drive-thru is utilized for refills,” said Tech. Sgt. Ashleigh Rogan, the NCO in-charge of PharmaCARE. “The MacDill Clinic provides prescriptions for service members and dependents and the Brandon Clinic saves time for personnel in the Brandon area who would otherwise commute to the base.”

To accommodate such a large population and area, 55 pharmacy members and more than 40 volunteers work together to fill more than 600,000 prescriptions a year.

“This is the most innovative team I have ever worked with and we have a lot of young Airmen with amazing ideas on how to make our internal processes more efficient, reducing wait times,” said Rogan.

The team often faces challenges out of their control such as delays and unavailability of prescription medications from suppliers, but prioritizing communication with the customer alleviates the impact.

“Some patients don’t know that they become eligible for a refill once 75 percent of their last prescription has been used and that would drastically cut down on their waiting time,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Fregoso, NCO in-charge of the drive-thru refill pharmacy.

Another tip from pharmacy professionals is knowing the best time to come in.

“Early morning and late afternoons are the best times to visit each pharmacy clinic,” said Vaughn. “Our busiest hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, and everyone typically has the same plan to get their prescription filled on their lunch break.”

Regardless of how many people need their prescription, balancing short wait times while ensuring patient safety is a constant focus for the pharmacy team. Safety is the first priority of the 6th MDSS pharmacy team and each prescription is handled by multiple professionals.

“Attention to detail is everything,” said Fregoso. “We need to be able to look at a prescription and recognize that it’s the right patient, right medication, right strength and right quantity every time.”

There’s no doubt that MacDill’s pharmacy has a huge impact on the community in Tampa Bay and a mission of this scale requires a consistent combination of ingenuity and just plain hard work.