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West Texas VA launches 'Beat the Heat' medication pilot program, getting meds to vets before hot temps arrive

This program ran from May 31, 2021 - June 8, 2021 and preparation started back in March. The VA is looking to have this full-fledged program next summer too.

BIG SPRING, Texas — The West Texas VA definitely beat the 100 degree heat this week by teaming up with the US post office to help them deliver 90-day prescriptions to West Texas veterans' front porches.

"We beat the heat and now the heat is here," said Wendy Brown, associate chief of pharmacy at the West Texas VA.

Over the course of the past few years, the West Texas VA has noticed that during the hot West Texas summer months, heat sensitive medications like those meant to treat arthritis, cancer and diabetes are going bad.

"One box of medication may be $5 to $15,000 and if it sits on someone's front porch because they don't know it's arrived or if it sits in a warehouse somewhere that's 110 degrees, the medication may not be usable," Brown said.

So pharmacy staff spearheaded a pilot program this month. 

"We've lost some medications due to heat and our staff had come up with the idea that we could fill the prescriptions and get them to the patients before the heat of the summer," Brown said.

Over the past two weeks, they delivered three months of supplies, enough to last the whole summer, to about 120 veterans.

But before they could do that, they had to make sure these patients wouldn't be out of town, that they could get ahold of them and that they'd even need the medication over the summer.

Furthermore, these pharmacists coordinated with each primary care physician to write the prescriptions, then they filled them, matched them to the correct patient, double checked and delivered them to the post office.

The US post office would then deliver the package of medications to the veteran's front porch. 

Their communication system is better than summers before.

"With this program, the patients knew exactly what day the prescription would be filled in our pharmacy and when it would be delivered to the post office," Brown said.

In total, this was about a $100,000 operation.

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