Thomas Gosrich, director of pharmacy at CVPH Medical Center, gives a tour of the new pharmacy in the Medical Arts Building in Plattsburgh

PLATTSBURGH -- The CVPH Medical Center's pharmacy will be the first major department to move as the hospital begins a series of upgrades leading to a brand new surgical wing in 2009.

Pharmacists and staff members will set up shop on the first floor of the new Medical Arts Building, which is located just south of the main building where the old nurses' quarters used to stand.

"We're moving into about double the space of what we had," said Thomas Gosrich, pharmacy director for CVPH. "And it's quality space, vastly better than we're used to. In some spots at our current location, the ceiling is seven feet high. It's very claustrophobic."

Although it has expanded over the years, the pharmacy is in the same location that was first used in 1972 when Physician's and Champlain Valley hospitals merged to form CVPH Medical Center.

The hospital will move the pharmacy to its new location over a two-day period this week, but the change will not disrupt any distribution of drugs to patients over that time period, Gosrich said.

As Gosrich moved from room to room in the new facility recently, construction workers continued with last-minute projects to ensure the move goes smoothly. Staff from the hospital's computer-services unit also went over their plans for providing updates support.

"We now have the space to install the highest level technology available to make sure the system is the safest it can be for our patients," Gosrich said.

One of the significant improvements will be the "sterile-manufacturing" lab, where staff will be able to make IV medications in a completely sterile environment. High-tech filters will circulate the air 30 times an hour, Gosrich explained.

The new facility will also have a much expanded storage space, he added.

The pharmacy, which fills between 500 and 600 prescriptions daily, carries about 2,500 different types of drugs.

"We have a committee made up of physicians who advise us on what kinds of meds we should have in stock," Gosrich said. "We look at safety, efficiency, cost issues, all the factors involved in purchasing medications and make a decision based on those factors."

There are about 7,000 different kinds of drugs available on the market today, but the hospital considers duplication, costs and other issues in determining which ones they should and should not have in stock.

Drugs are also ordered on a daily basis to make sure the most commonly used ones will always be on hand.

Special consideration is also taken when ordering the most expensive types of drugs, those typically used for oncology, for instance.

Most of the prescriptions filled at the pharmacy are for patients at the hospital. Sometimes the department will fill a prescription for a patient being discharged to help bridge the gap between hospital and home, and prescriptions are occasionally given for patients in the Emergency Department late at night.

The facility does have an outpatient area open between 2:30 and 4 p.m. for employees who are on the hospital's prescription plan, but the area is not open for the general public to fill prescriptions, Gosrich noted.

Security at the new pharmacy is also a plus, he added.

"There is a big improvement in security," he explained. "Previously, a lot of people could come into the department (to fill prescriptions). Here, they will have access without opening a door."

Inpatient prescriptions will be filled through a window made of bullet-proof glass that will allow staff to control the movement of drugs from pharmacy to patients more efficiently, he added.

The unit has 16 full-time equivalent pharmacists with an equal amount of support staff. Up to five pharmacists are on duty during the heavier day shifts, while at least one pharmacist and staff member will be available throughout the night.

In a month, the hospital's Laboratory Services will move to the Medical Arts Building's third floor. The second floor will eventually house Cardiac Services while space in the new building will also be available for some doctor's offices.

The moves are in conjunction with work being done on the hospital's new surgical wing, which will offer expanded space for improved technology in the operating room.

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