COVID-19 Efforts Q2 2020

The COVID-19 virus’s impact on patients was beyond what anyone would have expected from a respiratory virus. Some patients with COVID-19 seemed to need aggressive anticoagulation to prevent and treat venous thromboembolisms and pulmonary embolisms. Pharmacy collaborated with system Hematology/Oncology physicians to develop guidance and enroll patients in clinical trials to evaluate the effect of various treatments with the hope to improve overall knowledge in the medical community. Our colleagues across the system were relentless in helping their patients as well as help contribute to the literature by designing clinical trials at almost every acute care facility.

One promising new drug that was being studied through pharmaceutical industry partnership studies was Remdesivir. Remdesivir trials in our system were underway by April of 2020 and the clinical information system teams were instrumental in ensuring that the study requirements for this and all drugs were met. In early May, Remdesivir was given Emergency Use Authorization approval by the FDA. This medication is an antiviral medication that would be used for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The Federal Government began allocating products to the state who then distributed weekly based on hospitalizations. Infrastructure was created to guide prescribers on how to appropriately select patients that qualify and also ensure the patient receives all the appropriate information as part of the emergency use authorization.

In the midst of all these happenings, the pharmacy enterprise began to look forward. Hospital admissions were decreasing but our colleagues were tired and emotionally drained. We supported each other in ensuring the sites had as much support and resources as possible. Corporate Pharmacy worked with the sites to prepare for a potential subsequent second wave of COVID-19 cases. Given that we were unsure of the severity of illness and drug availability when a second wave may occur, it was determined that a one month supply of select critical medications would be stocked. Due to storage limitations sites would keep two weeks inventory and Qualitas would also keep two weeks on hand. Corporate Pharmacy tracked this information weekly and reported to the system senior leadership each week to share our preparedness for a future wave. The team at Qualitas invested in a refrigerated room to accommodate refrigerated supplies for wave 2, expanded central warehouse products and storage of influenza vaccine. The Pharmacy Enterprise reaffirmed its commitment to its residency programs by hosting its own version of an Eastern States Residency Conference so residents could present their research that was completed in addition to caring for their patients. The systems journey toward Epic continued as well – with pharmacy subject matter experts contributing to spirited discussions rooted in advancing practice and patient safety with physician and nurse experts from across the enterprise.