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Beacon’s compounding pharmacy fills uncommon prescriptions with personalized care

Sara Burks, certified pharmacy technician, makes capsules of a prescription medication at Beacon Home Care Pharmacy.

Beacon Home Care Pharmacy isn’t your typical pharmacy. In fact, by definition, it’s the exact opposite of typical.

Located at 3355 Douglas Road in South Bend, it’s a compounding pharmacy, meaning that its staff prepares medications that are not available at retail or commercial pharmacies.

“We’re kind of like the problem solvers,” said pharmacist Jane DeJong. “I have a lot of doctors who will call and say, ‘I’ve got this going on, what can we do?’ I’ve got a lot of resources to help them out.”

Pharmacy manager Trudy Wait agreed.

“It’s not the kind of pharmacy where it feels like a factory and they see how many scripts they can get out in a day,” Wait said.

DeJong is part of a core of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who’ve served a loyal following of patients ever since they worked together at the former Mar-Main Pharmacy. Soon after it became part of Beacon in 2013, it moved to its larger, current Douglas Road location.

For the Beacon Home Care Pharmacy team, patient care is personal. In fact, DeJong said the staff still call patients to let them know that their prescriptions are ready to be picked up.

“We’re right here,” DeJong said, noting that she even gives patients her cell phone number. “They know where we are and if something isn’t right, we make it right and stand behind it. We know everybody by their name, pretty much. If a child is sick and the mom texts me on the weekend and says, ‘I’m going to need that medicine on Monday,’ that doesn’t bother me. That’s what we’re here for.”

Expert, tailor-made care

Specialized antibiotics, medicines in special dosages that manufacturers don’t make, home infusion medications, bioidentical hormones made from plants rather than synthetic chemicals, and topical ointments for those who are unable to take medicine by mouth, are just a few examples of what the compounding pharmacy does.

The pharmacy team also makes a significant amount of veterinary medications, and customers often bring their pets in with them. For example, the pharmacist can formulate capsules for dogs that have a cough or pain because dogs’ bodies can’t tolerate the additives in over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Medications for cats are made into liquids because of the difficulty in giving cats pills.

“I’ve had a lot of extra training in veterinary pharmacy, whereas a regular pharmacist might not know those details,” DeJong said.

Planning for the future

The pharmacy plans to be around for many more years.

It is in the process of adding a negative air pressure room for handling some medications to comply with national standards that are expected to be implemented sometime in the near future.

The negative air pressure protects technicians’ health while they prepare the drugs. “It’s pretty amazing,” DeJong said. “We are supported so we can do everything the right way, protect our employees and keep up our high quality of products that we’ve been doing since we were Mar-Main.”

 

About Jeff Parrott

Parrott is media relations specialist for Beacon Health System. Before taking that role, Parrott worked as a reporter for 25 years at several Indiana and Michigan newspapers. When he isn’t telling the world about Beacon’s incredible associates, he enjoys watching sports, attempting DIY home improvement projects and spending time with his wife and children.