When Sgt. John Moylan was stationed at Fort Gordon more than three years ago, he dreaded having to get a prescription filled at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center.
"It was a long wait," Sgt. Moylan said.
About a year ago, hospital officials implemented changes in the pharmacy department, dramatically cutting wait times. And it has paid off.
Eisenhower recently won the Army Surgeon General's Award for excellence in customer service, productivity and operational readiness.
Hospital officials cite the pharmacy as one of the areas of improved customer service.
"Wait times were in excess of three hours" last year, said Maj. Keith Wagner, the assistant chief of the pharmacy department.
Sgt. Moylan waited only about five minutes March 1 to have his antibiotic and pain medications filled after having his wisdom teeth pulled. "Everything was quick," he said.
Eisenhower pharmacists fill about 65,000 prescriptions a month, Maj. Wagner said. A new computerized system speeds up the process.
Different medications are contained in separate bins. When the patient's information is placed in the computer, it counts the required number of pills.
The pills are in a holding bin until the technician scans the bar code, and the patient and prescription information are matched.
Once the two sets of information are confirmed, the pills drop through a slot. A technician then puts them in a bottle.
"The bottom line is 95 percent of all prescriptions are ready in under an hour," Maj. Wagner said. "The benefits to them - the patients are happy and the pharmacist can spend more time counseling patients."
Also, there is a new refill service. Refills can be phoned in and, in a day or two, picked up at the Post Exchange.
The pharmacy's computer system also helps with productivity issues, Maj. Wagener said.
Pharmacy staff often would have to work beyond normal duty hours to fill prescriptions, he said. That is no longer the case.
Getting feedback from patients is important at Eisenhower, said Brig. Gen. Donald M. Bradshaw, the hospital's commanding general.
"Everybody in the medical center takes it seriously," he said. "We track it, look at it and deal with issues."
There are several ways patients can voice their opinion of hospital operations. Mail-in and online surveys are available, and they can talk with patient representatives.
"We like to recognize folks who are doing well, and work on things that need to be worked on," Brig. Gen. Bradshaw said.
Eisenhower recently received an award for its work with the Medical College of Georgia on mass casualty training. Also, the Southeastern Regional Medical Command, of which Brig. Gen. Bradshaw is the commander, has a link with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center's active-duty rehabilitation hospital. The VA recently received an award for that unit.
Brig. Gen. Bradshaw said the awards show how the hospital and medical command work closely with their partners in the military and civilian community.
"One of the things this award highlights is how it is very much a team effort," he said. "The Department of Defense, Eisenhower, the VA, the local community and military contractors provide superb care - from cradle to the grave."
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.