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Pharmacy Liaisons Go the Extra Mile to Keep Young Crohn's Disease Patient Healthy

November 04, 2016
BCH Pharmacy Liaisons

A little over a year ago Morley Cleary of Westhampton knew something wasn’t right when her youngest son wasn’t acting like himself.

“I had ongoing concerns that I raised with his pediatrician, and after a series of referrals he ended up at Baystate Children’s’ Hospital,” said Cleary.

Soon after he was referred to Baystate Children’s Hospital, Cleary’s son had a biopsy. He was later diagnosed with Crohn's disease and was referred to the pediatric gastroenterologists at the Baystate Children’s Specialty Center’s for follow-up and treatment.

“After he was diagnosed, they met with us and talked us through everything. They told us what steps we would be taking from here on out,” said Cleary. “Once we were on the same page and all of our questions were answered, we started the course of treatment,” said Cleary.

Help from Pharmacy Liaisons

The family went to the pediatric procedure unit at Baystate Children’s Hospital for his first treatment.

“We went for his infusions for about a year, and then when we switched his medication from an infusion to a home injectable,” said Cleary. “Griselle at the pediatric procedure unit did the first injection for us, then she trained me and now we just do it at home.”

Before starting his injections at home, Baystate Children’s Specialty Center pharmacy liaisons Aimee Stymest and Caitlin McNabb helped Cleary get all of her son's prescriptions situated.

“His treatment plan required an injection at home once every two weeks,” said Cleary. “With three kids, it was hard trying to figure everything out on my own; that’s where Aimee and Caitlin were real life savers.”

“We’re like patient care coordinators only for specialty medications. We handle insurance, financial issues, as well as monitor adherence,” said McNabb, pharmacy liaison at the Baystate Children’s Hospital Specialty Center. “Right now pharmacy liaisons are located in most of the hospital’s specialty department and clinics, such as oncology, infectious diseases, hepatitis C, HIV, adult and pediatric gastroenterology, endocrinology, the MS clinic, and pediatric rheumatology.” 

“Our job is to take care of prior authorizations for patient’s medications, and get them set up with a specialty pharmacy, whether it’s Baystate Specialty Pharmacy, or an insurance preferred specialty pharmacy,” said Stymest. “Some of these medications are expensive and require a lot of attention, so we do what we can to make sure they have what they need and any resources that can help.”

Another important part of their job is monitoring patient’s medication effectiveness and adherence.

“When we call patients for their medication renewal, we make sure they are adhering to their medications. We ask them how many doses they have left; if they have an amount that they are not supposed to, it’s a red flag to us. If it doesn’t sound right we ask questions and notify the doctor," said Stymest.

Family Appreciation

These services from the pharmacy liaisons were very helpful for Cleary and her family.

“At one point, we had to change his medication and this had to be done quickly. With Crohn’s disease, staying on a schedule with your medication is necessary to prevent symptoms and remain in remission,” said Cleary. “Aimee handled everything between the pharmacy, our insurance company, and doctors. Then we were preparing for a trip and the pharmacy we used wasn’t flexible with delivery and pick up locations. Within a day Aimee was able to switch it to a different pharmacy without any interruptions.” 

Their job doesn’t stop there. Cleary says they have even helped her save money and kept her informed of the latest information.

“Aimee was always thinking ahead and sending me links to programs that are available. These programs give you information and helped us get supplies we needed for free or at a discounted price,” said Cleary. “That was all stuff that I didn’t know about and she would research it for me, making it a breeze for me to navigate. Aimee helped eliminate a lot of extra steps that no one has time for especially when trying to keep your daily life going.” 

Cleary says thanks to the help of the doctors, nurses, and pharmacy liaisons at the Baystate Children’s Hospital Specialty Center, her son is doing well and has managed to control his diagnosis.

“We’ve been lucky; he’s generally been symptom-free and it has been pretty easy to control,” said Cleary.