January 11, 2017

Peace River Center and Genoa show off pharmacy at Wellness Clinic

Genoa operates approximately 340 pharmacies nationwide that are co-located at behavioral health and addiction treatment centers, said pharmacist Bhavesh Bhakta, the site manager.

By Marilyn Meyer

LAKELAND – Peace River Center and Genoa showed off a new pharmacy venture with a grand opening this week at the facility, located inside the mental health agency’s Wellness Clinic at 1831 N. Gilmore Ave., off Bella Vista Street.

Genoa operates approximately 340 pharmacies nationwide that are co-located at behavioral health and addiction treatment centers, said pharmacist Bhavesh Bhakta, the site manager.

“We can dispense psychiatric medications and any other medications prescribed by the primary care clinic or any other doctor as along as the patient is a patient anywhere in the Peace River Center network, is an employee of Peace River or is a family member of a patient or employee,” Bhakta said.

Peace River Center provides treatment to more than 1,830 patients through an array of programs scattered across Polk County, said Rebecca Paul, Peace River’s marketing manager.

Bhakta, who had previously worked as a pharmacist in a retail store, said that because Genoa specializes in psychiatric pharmacology, the pharmacists are offered more specialty training and resources than at a typical pharmacy.

“We have the time to talk with the patients and talk with the doctors and the nurses, who are all here in the building, and to be part of the treatment team,” he said.

With the team approach, patients have a better rate of taking their medication than patients who go to free-standing pharmacies, said Karen Moore, director of nursing.

“Medication adherence means they bought in to the value of taking their psychiatric medications,” she said. “It is more patient focused than medication compliance, which means patients are taking their medication because they have been told to.”

When the pharmacy started dispensing prescriptions Sept. 29, it was after two years of legwork to develop the agreement between Peace River and Genoa, and to set up funding mechanisms, Bhakta said.

The pharmacy staff fills prescriptions not only for patients who come to the site but also for patients who are visited in their homes by Peace River’s FACT team, which provides in-home psychiatric care and case management for people with severe mental health issues who have difficulty making it to appointments, Bhakta said.

The pharmacy has been unexpectedly busy, he said. After opening with him as the only pharmacist and one pharmacy tech, a second tech was soon added. By mid-December, after being open for only 10 weeks, the pharmacy had filled more than 3,000 prescriptions, he said.

The Wellness Clinic is partially funded through the Polk County half-cent sales tax for indigent health care.

Prescriptions can be paid for by cash, through commercial insurance, Medicare Part D, Medicaid or through the limited funds available through the state’s Indigent Drug Program, Bahatka said.

Patients starting a new drug can be given samples provided through the pharmaceutical companies and can sign up for the drug company’s indigent care programs for specific drugs, he said.

Bhakta works closely with the patients to help them understand what their best options are to obtain their prescriptions, Moore said.

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