After-Hours Support: Emergent Meds and the Benefits of a Partner Who Understands

a young black woman checks the inventory on pharmacy's shelves while a colleage works in the background

Blue Ridge Pharmacy is readily available to dispense emergency medications to patients in long-term care facilities.

It’s safe to assume that long-term care residents and their caregivers are familiar with the frequent changes that can occur in patient prescription regiments over time. However, it is impossible to predict when situations that cause an abrupt need for modification will occur– perhaps an emergency room visit, a rapid change in blood pressure or dramatic dip in blood sugar, for example?

If those occurrences happen after-hours, long-term care pharmacies like Blue Ridge are equipped to make sure resident patients have the medications they need at a moment’s notice. While most LTC pharmacies outsource to third parties for after-hour communications, Blue Ridge handles all of their calls in-house. “When you call Blue Ridge after hours, one of our staff pharmacists will answer directly and handle the request immediately,” says Ben Wax of Blue Ridge’s LTC location in Asheville.

No matter the circumstance, making sure prescriptions are filled correctly is always the top priority. Since many medications cause serious side effects when not taken as directed, long-term care pharmacists have to be meticulous in ensuring the right medication goes to the right patient, with the correct instructions. LTC pharmacies log critical information, like patient health records and prescription history, by utilizing industry-leading, digital record-keeping. Blue Ridge Pharmacy even goes as far as offering technical support to its care partners, helping them to keep their patient record systems updated.

Once medications are double and triple checked for accuracy, the priority shifts to speed of delivery to the patient. To meet the challenges associated with unexpected prescription needs, long-term care pharmacies must determine the most timely route of delivery. Whenever possible, emergency prescriptions are filled in-house and delivered by Blue Ridge’s private fleet, day or night.  Other times, however, the best approach is for the resident to fill their prescription at a local, 24-hour retail pharmacy, especially when it comes to antibiotics or pain medications. To make the decision, Blue Ridge measures the distance between its closest fulfillment center and the resident’s location in order to determine the most efficient way for someone to obtain needed medications.

Finally, where appropriate and allowed by law, Blue Ridge maintains automated dispensing machines in its partner care facilities, giving qualified care nurses access to more than 200 medications at a moment’s notice. “We make the delivery decision in the resident or client’s best interest to ensure that medication is handled safely and quickly,” Wax says. “We feel we know our clients best, and we are responsible for taking care of them, no matter the hour or the day.”