May 17, 2022

From left, Jenn D. Marshall and Kim Shank, both of the Little Current site nursing team, stand with one of the new automatic drug dispensing units being installed at both Manitoulin Health
Centre hospital sites.

MANITOULIN—Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC)  has announced the arrival of four new automatic drug dispensing units (ADUs). These units, which resemble commercial vending machines,  are pharmacy-based units that contain medications. They provide for safe, controlled and monitored medication dispensing to patients. The units will ensure that medications are delivered in a safe, accurate and timely manner. They also ensure efficient procurement of medications for administration to patients.

“We are excited about the units being installed,” said Jayme Watson, clinical transformation manager and operational pharmacy manager for MHC. She said the ADUs will make the process of distribution of medication much more efficient, safer and easier to keep track of inventory.

The units will ensure that medications are delivered in a safe, accurate and timely manner. They also ensure efficient procurement of medications for administration to patients.

“We’ve had the idea at the MHC for a while now as part of a strategy for reports to provide proper inventory,” said Ms. Watson. She explained, “the ADU units look like  a vending machine. With these units, we will be able to keep very close track of inventory (which will be counted daily), and in the summer we can ramp this up. These ADUs interface with our electronic records system known as Meditec, so patients’ medications are profiled to their medications only. This will decrease the risk of medication errors (such as similar drugs) being administered.”

“So, it helps pharmacy technicians in terms of accurate inventory, and aligns with our electronic records system to make the process easier and more efficient. For patients, it is more efficient and they know they are getting the right medication and the right dose,” said Ms. Watson. “And all of this augments our system; it won’t take away jobs. It means pharmacy techs will be able to spend more time with patients allowing more interaction among pharmacy technicians and patients. Pharmacy technicians will be able to get involved earlier in the process.”

“These are units that have been seen in some larger centres and through COVID, issues have come up with the supply chain. With these units and the process, it will provide a good handle on inventory. It will be a game changer,” said Ms. Watson. She pointed out MHC will be one of the first smaller hospital sites in Northern Ontario to have these units installed.

The ADUs are not patient driven. They are only for use by hospital personnel. They will make the process of distribution of medications much more efficient, safer and easier to keep track of inventory, said Ms. Watson.

The ADUs will be active in the MHC Little Current site on March 15, with one being installed in the inpatient unit and one in the emergency department. The Mindemoya site will see the ADUs active on  March 28.

“This is an exciting step in our clinical transformation journey,” stated Ms. Watson.

Both the nursing and pharmacy teams at MHC are eagerly awaiting the ADU implementation as many have worked with these units at other hospitals. The dispensing units have the capability of storing and dispensing hundreds of medications.

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