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Pharmacy hours

Question
Because the pharmacy closes at 5 p.m., it is difficult for people who work in Denver to get to the pharmacy after work. It would be easier if they opened late one day a week and then stayed open late. For instance, if on Wednesday they opened at 8 a.m. and stayed open until 5:30 p.m. I spoke with the Airmen at the pharmacy and they said the wing commander set the hours.

Answer
Thank you for taking the time to express your concern and for offering a potential solution. We do understand that it can be difficult at times to get to the pharmacy and other service oriented organizations when jobs keep us at work until late in the afternoon or evening. Based on your concerns we have re-examined several options for extending pharmacy hours, and we specifically looked at extending our pharmacy hours one to two days per week. We however require a full staff to operate the pharmacy and with our civilian team we cannot economically make that work. We also looked at just shifting the hours on one or two days per week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. but again the overall demand for earlier hours makes the later hours neither productive nor effective for the majority of our patrons.

We also considered staggering shifts to extend hours. On the surface it seems an easy solution however the one overwhelming concern/complaint with Pharmacy Operations is wait time. Staggering shifts to extend hours of operations unfortunately causes our wait times to increase due to lower number of personnel working at any given time.

In the seven years this pharmacy has been open we have worked a couple of different schedules in an attempt to find the most productive "sweet spot." The hours have changed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. When the pharmacy was open until 5:30 p.m. only one or two patients were coming in after 5 p.m. Pharmacy staff kept a patient count after 5 p.m. and surveyed patients on what hours were preferred. The response was overwhelming to open earlier. As a result our current pharmacy hours of Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., are not perfect but they are the best compromise based on customer surveys and actual usage numbers.

We realize this isn't ideal for everyone and we do offer some options when the normal hours of operation do not work. The most frequently used is our mail order pharmacy program. This program ensures your routine prescription arrives at your home, ready for you to use at your convenience. An alternate method is for a designated individual to pick-up the prescription when the prescribed individual is unavailable; this has proven to be a useful alternative for many.

Looking to the future we are very excited about our new pharmacy construction project currently being built adjacent to the commissary, it will replace the current 6th Avenue operation. Project completion is schedule for Fall 2010. This larger facility will include several automated initiatives that we expect to increase service and ultimately provide better access.

Our goal is to provide quality pharmacy services to all beneficiaries, we work to accomplish this within the budgetary and manpower limitations levied upon us. Thank you again for the opportunity to address your concerns, review available options and ultimately examine how we can best deliver pharmacy services. Please let us know if you would like information on the mail order pharmacy program. Thank you.