The hospital pharmacy in Baraka was small, crowded and difficult to clean and work in. In fact I can’t imagine how the staff have managed as the hospital has got busier over the years.
Moreover, it was functioning from two separate rooms, in different parts of the hospital. One place for medicines, the other for medical supplies such as syringes, needles, gloves, etc. So the staff were effectively working in two separate teams.
Moving it had been planned for some time. The initial barrier was transferring the medical warehouse from its location in the hospital compound to a different part of town, freeing up space in the hospital.
The warehouse was relocated to considerably larger premises in the centre of town in June / July 2015, leaving two large rooms at the hospital. The main warehouse space is likely to become another hospital ward, while the second smaller room was earmarked for the pharmacy.
The first task was working with the pharmacy national staff and the TechLog team to assess the alterations to the building necessary for it to house a pharmacy.
These included building a ceiling, both for temperature insulation and to protect the space from possible bat infestation.
Roof overhang needed to be extended to provide further shade and help keep temperatures down. Improvements in ventilation were needed, again, to keep temperatures down. Installation of a window for dispensing to patients was required, and a stable style main door put in to avoid other hospital staff walking in and out of the premises, whist maintaining access to pharmacy services.
The warehouse style shelving, designed with large spaces between shelves for storage of large cartons, needed to be removed and replaced by shelving more appropriate for storage of smaller containers and quantities. Internal walls were added, adequate lighting installed and pallets moved in to keep larger items off the floor.
Michel and Bita, two pharmacy supervisors at the entrance to the new pharmacy, a few days before we moved in.
The day of the move came. Since the pharmacy is open seven days a week, and also provides a night service, basic provision had to keep going while we moved, so two staff maintained the service, while the rest of us, with help from staff from other departments, started moving the stock.
Bit by bit, everything was removed from the shelves in the old premises, packed in cartons and moved to the new pharmacy. Here it was unpacked and arranged on the lovely clean new shelves.
MSF works with a standard list of medical items, always arranged in the same alphabetical order according to item codes. All paperwork – inventories, order forms, prescription requests etc follow this order, so it makes sense to arrange the products on the shelves in this same order.
Tables, chairs and cupboards were moved from the old premises to the new, and by midday, pharmacy services were being provided from the new premises.
Most of the move was completed by the end of the day, and in the evening, the pharmacy staff went out for a celebratory meal.
Work carried on the next day, finishing off the move of medical materials. Labelling of shelves was started, the place for each item is labelled with the code and description of the item, this makes sure stock is placed in the correct location, and also makes it easier to assess at a glance if product levels are low.
A couple of months on, the pharmacy is running well, and the staff are happy working together from the same place.
The work of the monthly stock inventory has become easier now all the stock is in the same place and in the correct order.
Organisation of prescribing data collection can now be streamlined, and the clinical role of the pharmacy staff is being further developed now everyone is together.