Providing the right medication at the right time is an important part of patient care. The main pharmacy on Lower Level 1 of our new hospital will help ensure that medications are administered correctly and safely.  

Currently, the central pharmacy in University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics serves adult and pediatric patients. Most medication doses for pediatric patients are based on a patient’s weight. Most adult doses are not. As a result, pharmacists must switch back and forth between dosing procedures. Once the children’s hospital opens, they will no longer need to do so.

The main pharmacy will be dedicated exclusively to pediatric patients at our children’s hospital. The central pharmacy in UI Hospitals & Clinics will serve adult patients. By serving a single type of patient, each pharmacy will boost efficiency. The new system also will reduce the potential for medication errors, thereby enhancing safety.

The pharmacists in our new hospital will be specially trained in pediatrics. This is important because they have expertise in understanding how medication affects children. The needs of pediatric patients vary widely, from those of critically ill newborns to young adults. To provide the best care and service, pediatric pharmacists will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in our new hospital. Currently, the majority of pediatric pharmacists are only available at certain times.

The main pediatric pharmacy will serve all inpatient levels in our new hospital. Inpatient units are located on Levels 3, 6, 9, 10, and 11. The pediatric pharmacy will also serve 49 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) beds that will remain in UI Hospitals & Clinics to be near Labor and Delivery. The pediatric pharmacy will prepare and deliver oral and IV medications for children who are hospitalized as well as those undergoing infusion, dialysis, or outpatient procedures. Pharmacy employees will also refill medication trays used on crash carts—portable supply cabinets used for emergencies.

In addition, they will stock AcuDose machines in medication rooms. These machines help the care team provide the right dose of the right medication to the correct patient. In our new hospital, all medication rooms will be designated as quiet zones. This will allow employees to concentrate fully on their work.

Medication rooms will be located offstage, or in areas reserved for staff. Employees stocking the AcuDose machines will use offstage service elevators to get around the building. Offstage elevators and hallways will help reduce noise outside patient rooms, enhancing rest. The layout of medication rooms will be standardized throughout the hospital. That way, employees will know where to find items regardless of which room they need to access. The standard layout will increase efficiency and reduce the potential for error.

Pharmacists are key members of our care team. They typically hold a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree, which takes four years of pharmacy-specific education and training. Before entering a PharmD program, students must complete at least two years of college. Pharmacists may also obtain additional training as residents or fellows. Finally, they must pass rigorous licensing exams.

Pharmacists have many responsibilities. They:

  • Prepare and mix medications
  • Attend daily rounds, meeting with patients and families
  • Obtain medication histories  
  • Answer questions from patients and families about medications
  • Teach patients and families about how/when to administer medications
  • Monitor how medications are working
  • Problem-solve if a medication is not working well
  • Monitor potential side effects of medications
  • Answer questions about medications from others on the care team
  • Help patients receive necessary medications when they go home
  • Train pharmacy students and pharmacy residents and provide education to other health care providers in training roles

An outpatient pharmacy is also located on Level 2. This family-friendly space will serve patients who are being discharged as well as offer convenient access for outpatients and families seen in our Pediatric Specialty Clinic (PSC). PSC patients will be able to walk across a short connector on Level 2 to reach the children’s hospital.

Level 5 will be home to a third pediatric pharmacy, which will provide all medications to the operating rooms and recovery area, as well as all medication needs for anesthesia providers. Pharmacy employees will also stock AcuDose machines in preoperative/postoperative rooms on that floor. Finally, they will provide medications needed by ambulatory (same-day) surgery patients at home.

On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., a pediatric pharmacist will be dedicated to every inpatient level of our new hospital. An additional pharmacist will work in the outpatient clinic on Level 11. Overnight and on weekends, pharmacists will share coverage of different inpatient areas.