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Seaman Matt Broemeling, Branch Medical Clinic pharmacy technician, refills a medication-dispensing machine Jan. 6 in the BMC pharmacy. The new machines automatically count out and dispense prescriptions, reducing the time each prescription takes to fill.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Robert L. Botkin

Pharmacy keeps Marines, sailors ready for duty

19 Jan 2006 | Lance Cpl. Robert L. Botkin

Every service member goes through a battery of physical tests before and during their time in the military. Along with that, most eventually feel a bit under the weather at some point and need to go to medical for treatment. Usually the doctor sees them, diagnoses the problem and sends them to the pharmacy for medication, whether it is pain relievers, antibiotics or cough syrup.

The job of getting those medications ready may not be as simple as it seems though.
Prescriptions written by doctors at the Branch Medical Clinic are entered into a computer system that relays the information to the pharmacy, providing them with the correct dosage and amount of medication to be dispensed.

From there, the pharmacy technicians work on filling the prescriptions. They will fill between 300 to 350 prescriptions during summer and 400 to 600 in the wintertime, said Petty Officer 2nd class Andrew Wilson, Branch Medical Clinic pharmacy technician and native of Chanhassen, Minn.

“Some days are busier than others,” said Wilson. “The slowest days are probably Fridays in the summertime, but that’s about it. Tuesdays on payday in the wintertime are really big because the commissary is open, (people just got paid), and the snowbirds (are here).”

The winter population increase in Yuma affects the pharmacy in more ways than one, said Seaman Matt Broemeling, BMC pharmacy technician.

Some of the most common prescriptions filled at the pharmacy include pain relievers and allergy or cold medications. But during the winter months, blood pressure medications become common, said Broemeling.

The increase in prescriptions needing to be filled in the wintertime causes the pharmacy technicians to work long hours, said Wilson.

“It can (take until five or six p.m.) depending on how many patients are at the BMC,” said Wilson. “If it’s (four thirty p.m.) and there’s still work to do, you have to stay.”

The pharmacy sailors have been helped recently by a switch to a new computer system that helps keep the medications organized and speeds the process by which they are dispensed, said Navy Lt. Olaiton Ojo, BMC pharmacy officer-in-charge and native of Chicago.

“I was very excited about it,” said Ojo, who was the OIC during the transition. “It helps us a lot. It makes work a lot easier and it reduces the error rate, which is very important for us.”

As with any change, there were some difficulties, but the sailors in the pharmacy looked past that for the greater good, said Wilson.

“There are always problems when you’re making a change, but you just have to work through the problems and look ahead and know that it’s for the better,” said Wilson. “You’re making the change and know that it’s going to make it easier on you and better for the patients and pharmacy. The whole Navy has switched to this system.”

Despite the importance of their job, the pharmacy technicians like to think of themselves as just doing their job.

With a watchful eye and meticulous attention to detail, the BMC pharmacy technicians ensure that the Marines and sailors on station stay ready to fight, while helping to take care of those who served our country honorably in the past.
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Marine Corps Air Station Yuma