In January 2023, the SIU Pharmacy at Simmons Cancer Institute celebrates its 1-year anniversary. The pharmacy is located next to the Infusion Unit on the first floor of the Cancer Institute at 315 W. Carpenter.
Two pharmacists and two pharmacy technicians fill prescriptions and assist patients five days a week at the institute. Pharmacists Megan Stoller of Springfield and Christy Brewer of Chatham are both graduates of St. Louis College of Pharmacy. Certified Pharmacy Technicians Maxine Daniels of Springfield and Jessica Guenther of St. Paul, Minnesota, have a combined 36 years of pharmacy experience.
The SIU Pharmacy was established to provide patients with specialty medications that are not commonly available at general retail pharmacies. In addition to filling prescriptions and counseling patients on their medications, the providers work on Prior Authorizations, often an extra step required for insurance to cover the specialized drugs’ costs. Program Services Aide Jenny Bonds helps to coordinate financial assistance for patients who have large co-pays even after insurance coverage.
The pharmacy does not have all the ‘front store’ products of bigger retail chains, but the team plans around the patients’ unique schedules to have the proper oncology drugs available and prescriptions ready when an appointment brings them into SCI.
“We want it to be a positive and convenient patient experience,” said Megan Stoller. “We are right here in the same location as their doctor’s offices, so it cuts down on the turnaround time for their visit and increases their access to medication experts who specialize in oncology care.”
“This week we even did a ‘chairside delivery’ of some Emla cream to a patient receiving treatment in the infusion unit,” she said.
In the future, SCI hopes to expand the pharmacy services to provide soothing creams and anti-nausea medications to patients as they begin their journey, during the initial chemotherapy education. They also would like to collaborate with more insurance providers to serve a broader patient population.