Comprehensive Pharmacy Services Sends Aid for Puerto Rico and Houston Disaster Relief
Memphis, TN – Comprehensive Pharmacy Services (CPS), the nation’s largest hospital and health system pharmacy services provider, announced today that it is delivering $83,000 in disaster relief funds to help its employees impacted by hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Houston, Texas. CPS employees on the mainland raised a total of $33,000 to help their teammates, and the company contributed an additional $50,000.
On September 19, 2017, Puerto Rico was hit with an unprecedented category 5 hurricane that caused total devastation across large parts of the island. In preparation, CPS initiated its disaster management procedures to keep hospital pharmacies functioning and patients protected for its 11 hospital pharmacy clients staffed by 130 CPS team members on the island.
“Before the storm bore down on Puerto Rico, the CPS team ordered extra medications to be delivered to our client hospitals,” said Marvin Finnefrock, PharmD, CPS Divisional President of Clinical and Purchasing Services. “Having needed drugs in place helped our hospitals keep patients safe in the aftermath.”
Immediately following the hurricane, CPS teams in the U.S. worked to contact and locate employees and assess the damage to client facilities on the storm battered island. Downed cell towers severely limited communication for the first few days, but by October 1, all CPS employees on the island were accounted for. And though many CPS employees in Puerto Rico suffered significant damage to their own property, teams worked through nights and weekends, sometimes staying in client hospitals to secure pharmacies, minimize damage and ensure that patients received necessary medications in the wake of the storm.
“Our people really went above and beyond to ensure that drugs were delivered and distributed appropriately,” said Ira Poltorak, PharmD, Chief Operating Officer for CPS. “While CPS employees suffered severe material personal losses including damage to their homes and lack of electricity and clean drinking water, they kept coming to work, doing their jobs and serving their communities.”
With cell towers down, communication from the island to the mainland was difficult. Infrastructure damage impeded medication delivery, forcing creative work-arounds.
“We were able to piggyback medication shipments on empty air ambulances that were returning to Puerto Rico to evacuate patients, sending everything from medical supplies to water filters so our employees could have safe drinking water in their homes,” said Finnefrock. “We sent satellite phones to hospitals to work around the downed cell towers, so we could communicate with our teams on the ground.”
Procuring medications from the island’s wholesale distributors was challenging. Initially, wholesalers were not able to deliver needed drugs, so CPS Directors of Pharmacy drove to the warehouse and waited for hours to pick up medications. Teams established a network of communication via satellite phones and late at night when cell phone towers were not as busy, in order to determine what medications were needed at each hospital.
“We even sent drugs to other hospitals and urgent care centers across the island not affiliated with CPS,” said Marney Wilkerson, R.Ph., President, East Hospital Operations of CPS. “Though it was extremely difficult under the circumstances, our teams were able to help rebuild the supply chain and account for delivered drugs, keeping strict records on shipments, deliveries and who picked up those medications.”
One CPS client hospital was forced to shut down for a month after the storm. The facility has since reopened after a titanic effort by the Director of Pharmacy and administration along with hospital and other CPS employees.
“It has been an unprecedented learning experience in many ways,” said Nayda Ruiz, Senior Regional Vice President, CPS Puerto Rico. “Everyone will remember this for years to come. I will not forget my team’s dedication, commitment, resilience and loyalty to CPS, our shared values and the hospitals and patients we serve.”
In order to support the rapid recovery of our teams, CPS disbursed relief checks to impacted employees today. A total of 33 CPS employees in Puerto Rico and the U.S. submitted applications requesting some form of relief aide. Due to the magnitude of the storms’ damage, CPS leadership prioritized support based on the extent of damage to recipients’ homes.
“We are very proud of our team and their rapid response to helping our clients, our partners and the people of Puerto Rico and Texas during and after the hurricanes,” said Calvin Johnson (CJ), CEO of CPS. “We want to wish all of our employees and client partners happy holidays along with health and happiness going into the new year.”
About Comprehensive Pharmacy Services
Founded nearly 50 years ago, and employing over 2,500 pharmacy professionals, Comprehensive Pharmacy Services is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pharmacy support services to more than 700 hospital and healthcare facility pharmacies. CPS helps hospital pharmacists tackle complex problems such as hyperinflated drug costs, medication reconciliation, specialty pharmacy, operational effectiveness and staffing efficiencies, centralized distribution, ambulatory/retail pharmacies, compliance, 340B programs and much more, leading to increased quality, reduced admissions and lower costs. For more information, visit http://www.cpspharm.com.