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St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets opened its first Schnucks Infusion Solutions facility in September to treat acute and chronic conditions.
Dave Chism, Schnucks' director of pharmacy services, who proposed the idea three years ago, believes infusion therapy is a natural outgrowth of the grocer's pharmacy division, especially with national health care reform. “As health care is being more and more driven out of hospitals and into clinics and patients’ homes, it’s a natural progression for the pharmacy to follow up on the patient’s need,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Infusion therapy involves injecting medicine through a needle or catheter for conditions such as infectious diseases, nutrition disorders, immune deficiencies, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and Crohn’s disease.
Chism said he expects the clinic will bring the chain more grocery customers because patients and their families will become regular Schnucks pharmacy customers.
Michael Abrams, managing partner at a St. Louis health care consulting firm, said he thinks Schnucks could raise the bar for similar companies. “It has the potential to create a more of a market-based approach to this kind of care,” he told the P-D. “That, in my opinion, would be a good thing.” He said infusion centers are profitable because they administer expensive treatments. They’re also attractive to consumers and insurance companies because they provide outpatient care and are more cost-effective than visiting a hospital.
At the 6,500-square-foot center, nurses, pharmacists and technicians prepare infusions and administer them either in the patients’ homes or in the facility’s ambulatory infusion center. All nurses at the site have certified registered nurse infusion accreditation from the Infusion Nurses Certification Corp., which is the only nationally accredited certification, the P-D reported. The staff provides evening and weekend appointments on top of their regular hours, and they’re on call for assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The facility also has a full-retail and specialty pharmacy, and staff members have access to patients’ online medical profiles to prevent duplication of prescriptions.