Aspen hospital’s pharmacy to get $2.1M shot in the arm |

Aspen hospital’s pharmacy to get $2.1M shot in the arm

Upgrades for working with hazardous drugs approved by Aspen Valley Hospital board

Aspen Valley Hospital board member Dr. Greg Balko is thumbs up after getting vaccinated. Balko and other board members this week approved a $2.1 million renovation project for AVH’s pharmacy. Dan Bayer / Courtesy Aspen Valley Hospital

The pharmacy at Aspen Valley Hospital will undergo a $2.1 million renovation so the facility is in line with standards for handling and mixing hazardous drugs.

The hospital’s board of directors unanimously approved the expense at its monthly meeting held earlier this week. The pharmacy’s renovation is necessitated by a need to keep staff safe and comply with industry health standards, officials said.

The board last year approved $500,000 to be spent on the same project. That amounted was folded into the estimated figure of $2.02 million the board OK’d on Monday. About $1.7 million will cover construction costs, said Stephen Selby, AVH’s director of facilities.

The remodel is being done to comply with requirements set by United States Pharmacopeia (USP), a nearly 200-year-old organization that establishes public health standards for pharmacies and medicines. With the remodel, the hospital pharmacy will have USP’s designation and provide a “safer work environment for our pharmacy staff,” according to AVH documents.

“Without this renovation, our pharmacy would no longer be able to mix hazardous drugs,“ the documents said.

It will be necessary to expand the pharmacy, as well, to make away for a second air-ventilation hood so the pharmacy’s hazardous and nonhazardous drugs are kept separate, Selby said.

“Currently, we have one hood that does dual purpose, but since (updated USP standards) are designed to enhance worker safety, those two procedures need to be separated and done in a different hood with different requirements,” Selby said, noting the project is “very mechanically intense and all the parts and pieces are very expensive in this.”

The hospital will need to relocate the employee-health nurse office and the patient-representative office to accommodate the expansion, Selby said.

The pharmacy also has been on the front lines of getting locals, as well as hospital employees, vaccinated for the past seven weeks. Through Monday it had hosted 28 COVID-19 vaccination clinics, with 22 at the hospital and six at the Benedict Music Tent.

Through Monday, the AVH pharmacy had administered 3,972 doses, “and we’ve had zero that we’ve wasted, so we’ve made sure we’ve used every vaccine that we’ve had available to us,” pharmacy director John Anderson told hospital officials and the board. Eighty-four percent of those vaccinations accounted for second doses, he said.

Pharmacy employees have made the most of the vaccine supply and to the benefit of several hundred local residents, Anderson said.

“Out of that nearly 4,000 doses that we’ve administered,“ Anderson said, ”we’ve actually been able to get 482 extra doses out of those vials. So that’s a little bit of a shout-out to my pharmacy staff who’s been responsible for drawing up those doses, because we have treated every drop in every one of those vials as gold, and again we’ve been able to essentially fully vaccinate an extra 280 people over the course of the last seven weeks. So we make sure we’re taking advantage of every viable dose in those vials.“


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