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Upstate Cancer Center Pharmacy offers quality assurance and education services

Upstate Cancer Center Pharmacy offers quality assurance and education services

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate University Hospital has expanded its clinical pharmacy services to include serving the patients and the medical team at Upstate Cancer Center. The Upstate Cancer Center Pharmacy is a branch of the Pharmacy Department at the hospital’s Downtown Campus.

Located on the second floor of the cancer center, it is staffed by four full-time pharmacists, including two clinical specialists, one in adult and one in pediatric oncology. In addition, the pharmacy has three pharmacy technicians with expertise in mixing chemotherapy and biologic agents.

Together, the Cancer Center Pharmacy team collaborates with the center’s medical staff to assist in developing the best and safest medication treatment options tailored to the individual needs of Upstate Cancer Center adult and pediatric patients.

“Quality assurance is very important to our mission,” says Andrew Burgdorf, Pharm.D., B.C.P.S., who serves in the new position of adult oncology clinical pharmacist at the cancer center. “We mix our chemotherapy and biologic agents in a state-of-the-art pressurized, and sterile clean-room environment. We’ve also acquired the Diana Hazardous Drug Compounding System for accurate, safe and efficient preparation of selected therapies.”

Clean rooms in the health system pharmacy arena are highly regulated and controlled rooms that assure that the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products are free from microbial and particulate contamination. Diana is an automated compounding system used by the pharmacy technician to mix chemotherapy agents. It increases efficiencies and reduces the incidence of drug waste. For the technician, it minimizes repetitive motion stresses and reduces the risk of hazardous drug exposure.

As part of its quality assurance activities, The Upstate Cancer Center Pharmacy team also consults with the cancer center’s medical team to prevent or identify and solve medication related problems should they arise. The pharmacists are also available to answer patients’ questions regarding their medications.

“Education is also an important part of our program,” Burgdorf said. “We plan to expand our services to include a formal patient counseling program for oral chemotherapy agents. This will include a monitoring service where we would provide telephone follow up to our patients at their homes to ensure that they are taking their medications properly. We have also started pharmacy in-services on new therapies for the nurses at the cancer center that will offer nursing education credits. “

Other future plans, according to Burgdorf, include the pharmacy’s participation in optimizing the Epic Beacon System. This system allows the pharmacists to highlight important information regarding oncology medications that clinicians can take into account when creating a treatment plan for their patients at the cancer center.

In addition to Burgdorf, the Upstate Cancer Center Pharmacy team includes Sarabeth Baxter, PharmD, B.C.P.S,. pediatric oncology clinical pharmacist; and clinical staff pharmacists Darlene Chrisfield, RPh, and Paul Lipinoga, RPh. Pharmacy technicians are Joanne McCollum, CPhT, Richard Campbell, CPh, and Bonnie Willoughby, CPhT.


Caption: Andrew Burgdorf, Pharm.D., B.C.P.S., adult oncology clinical pharmacist at the Cancer Center, in the cancer center’s infusion room.