Pilot program offers relief for chemo patients

June 22, 2012
Chemotherapy infusion patients in Hood River can now meet with a pharmacist during each treatment, thanks to a new pilot program aimed at improving patient safety and reducing medication side effects.

A $20,000 grant from Cardinal Health to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital supports the program, which is also expected to reduce health care costs overall for these patients.  

In the program, a pharmacist will review each patient chart, including medications and potential interactions, then discuss with physicians and nurses prior to the first 40-minute consult with each patient. After the initial treatment appointment, and after future infusions of chemotherapy drugs, a pharmacist will call the patient to discuss medication side effects and symptoms, and how best to manage the concerns.

“By having a pharmacist available to talk directly with the patient about their medication concerns, we can monitor the progression of side effects and make adjustments that fit the patients’ needs,” said Cher Cormier, Providence pharmacy supervisor. “The goal is to improve the understanding of  how chemotherapy  works in the body,  why the medications may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth sores etc., and methods available for preventing  or treating these symptoms. Ultimately, we want our patients to feel better as they undergo the rigors of chemotherapy to treat their illness.”