Hospital Authority may reopen pharmacy at General Hospital

Monday, October 25, 2010 at 11:40pm

Patients of Nashville General Hospital may be able to get their prescriptions filled on site in the near future.

The Metropolitan Nashville Hospital Authority is considering entering into a joint venture to open a retail pharmacy at the hospital’s north Nashville campus in order to better serve the tens of thousands of patients who visit its clinics, emergency room and inpatient facility each year.

“Our clinics see about 32,000 visits a year, and a lot of those folks have transportation issues,” said Jason Boyd, the Hospital Authority’s interim CEO. “They’re here —logistically we think we could capture a good piece of that.”

Boyd and Hospital Authority CFO Robert Stillwell discussed the retail pharmacy idea with authority board members at the group’s Monday afternoon meeting. Stillwell said the hospital is vetting companies that could manage the pharmacy’s human resources, daily operations and regulatory requirements while allowing the hospital to participate in its financial success.

In addition to the 32,000 patients who visit the hospital’s ambulatory clinics, Stillwell said the pharmacy could serve the some 30,000 patients who visit Nashville General’s emergency department and the 5,000 who are admitted to the hospital annually.

“We have a great need,” Stillwell said.

But, at this point, the hospital is still performing due diligence on potential partners and does not have a proposed contract. The authority also would need to approve about $150,000 in up-front seed capital to get the pharmacy started.

Stillwell said the joint venture arrangement should allow the pharmacy to operate efficiently and maintain competitive pricing. Nashville General had an on-site pharmacy several years ago, but it closed after its prescription volume declined when competitors like Kroger and Target began offering generic prescriptions at prices $3 below what the hospital had to charge in order to cover its costs.