Department of Pharmacy

When most people think of pharmacies, they think of going to the drug store to fill a prescription and talking to a pharmacist for advice. The Department of Pharmacy fills that same role, but in a slightly different way. It provides pharmacy services primarily for inpatients and care providers at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, as well as some specialized outpatient clinics at our Hospital including Renal Service and Cancer Care.

As part of an interprofessional team, the Department of Pharmacy provides services in four general areas:

  • Pharmacy Services for Inpatients
  • Chemotherapy Preparation
  • Specialized Retail Pharmacy
  • Regional Pharmacy Program

The Department of Pharmacy provides timely, quality pharmaceutical and consultation services – an important element of excellent Patient and Family Centred Care (PFCC).

Pharmacy Services for Inpatients

The Department of Pharmacy at the Hospital provides many of the same services as pharmacies in the community, but for inpatients. These could include common medications such as pain relievers, but it also includes complex medications that need to be provided under clinician care. The Department of Pharmacy is responsible for:

  • Central medication order review
  • Medication reconciliation
  • Antimicrobial stewardship (following guidelines to reduce the risk of creating drug-resistant organisms or so-called “superbugs”)
  • Medication counselling for inpatients and outpatients
  • Monitoring of drug-drug interactions
  • Monitoring for allergies
  • Adverse drug reaction monitoring
  • Drug information
  • Support to Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee
  • Therapeutic drug monitoring for drugs such as Vancomycin
  • Purchasing and storage of medications
  • Computerized, unit dose distribution of inpatient medications
  • Pharmacy-based IV admixture services (for example, antibiotics)
  • Ward stock (medications stored at each unit)
  • Adult and neonatal parenteral nutrition preparation (for example, through an IV)
  • Inpatient chemotherapy preparation

Patients can request medication consults with a pharmacist to discuss any concerns about medications including side effects and drug interactions. To arrange a consultation, please talk to your nurse, who will page the pharmacist assigned to your floor.

Chemotherapy Preparation

covers a variety of IV medications that are personalized to each patient, mixed
by registered pharmacy technicians. The Department of Pharmacy operates a
chemotherapy preparation room within the Cancer Centre and main pharmacy to
ensure safety and accuracy of chemotherapy along with other pharmacy services
for cancer patients.

Pharmacistsare also available to answer any questions about chemotherapy, side effects, and what medications can be taken to reduce the side effects. Patients and their caregivers can find out more about pharmacist consultations here:

Specialized Retail Pharmacy

Certain medications – particularly new chemotherapy drugs – are not always available at your local pharmacy. In the past, patients would have to order these drugs through and receive from a mail-order pharmacy. Not only was this less convenient, but it also reduced contact with the pharmacist who could explain the drugs and their possible side effects.

In 2018, the Department of Pharmacy opened its Specialized Pharmacy (located in the Cancer Centre) to provide patients with the medications they need without getting them delivered from out of town. Patients get the medications they need faster, and they also have the opportunity to discuss the medications in-person with a pharmacist so they understand how to take the medication, discuss any concerns about the medications, and get the follow-up they sometimes need. We also provide drugs to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy through the Specialized Pharmacy.

The Specialized Pharmacy provides:

  • In-person pharmacy consultations for patients
  • Up-to-date information based on the patient’s latest Hospital test results
  • Seamless care from one care team
  • Assistance navigating drug coverage for certain medications

Your care provider will discuss with you how to contact the Specialized Pharmacy if needed.

Regional Pharmacy Program

Hospital pharmacists review all prescriptions for inpatients to ensure safety including confirming dosage, checking for possible reactions with other prescriptions, and other safety measures. However, smaller hospitals do not usually have the volume to employ a full-time pharmacist.

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre provides that pharmacy support to eight community hospitals. These are: Red Lake, Dryden, Atikokan, Nipigon, Manitouwadge, Terrace Bay, Marathon, and Fort Frances. An electronic and secure system allows these hospitals to send all prescriptions for pharmacist review, just as if they were at the hospital themselves. The program also supports physicians, nursing staff, and pharmacy techs by answering any questions they or their patients may have, and by visiting two or three times per year to perform required pharmacy audits.

The Regional Pharmacy Program provides another layer of safety for patients, gives regional hospitals and their staff close support, and helps reduce health care costs by sharing resources.