Pharmacy hopes to alleviate barriers for behavioral health patients

CHICO — A new pharmacy off of Cohasset Road and Rio Lindo Avenue is aiming to weaken the barriers that keep patients with moderate to severe behavioral health from having access to their medications.

The site, staffed by one pharmacist and one pharmacy technician is the result of a collaboration between Butte County Behavioral Health and Genoa Healthcare — marking the first time that a California county has ever partnered with the health care provider, said Director of Pharmacy Operations Robyn Howe.

“Among our patients are the most vulnerable and underserved within our populations — many of them suffering from moderate to severe mental illness and other health care conditions,” said Howe.

On Wednesday morning, Butte County Behavioral Health staff and Genoa Healthcare leaders held a grand opening to celebrate the new pharmacy.

Sitting a few hundred feet away from Butte County Department of Behavioral Health, the pharmacy is an opportunity to provide services where patients are receiving care.

“Someone could basically come down for services here, and then literally walk down the hall to see their pharmacist,” said Director of Butte County Public Health Scott Kennelly. “That’s very important with our severely mentally-ill population, many of who are homeless and don’t have any transportation.”

The pharmacy first opened in September 2021 and has serviced 635 patients to date, said Genoa Healthcare Senior Marketing Specialist Frank Hemmer. The pharmacy has the opportunity to serve up to 9,000 people in Butte County, said Howe.

One way that Genoa Pharmacy tries to improve medication adherence is by offering a service where patients can receive all of their medications one package which gives breaks down a visual schedule of what medications need to be taken in the morning, noon, evening or bedtime for a day, said pharmacy manager Brittnay Oliver.

“The patient could get one package a month with every medication they’re on,” said Oliver. “It allows patients to see when they need to take the medication and additionally, it let’s them see if they did take their medication for the day.”

The pharmacy will provide prescription dispensing only upon the written order of a licensed provider, said Hemmer. The service of the pharmacy also extends to patient assistance with medication counseling and synchronization, packaging variety and other services aimed at reducing patient barriers to prescription affordability, accessibility and adherence.

“This is for our severely mentally ill population who historically have significant difficulty staying on their medication, remaining stable and sometimes have trust issues with their medication and working with their pharmacy,” said Kennelly. “So having Genoa as part of our team, everyone is working together to try and improve patient outcomes.”

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