Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center provides high quality, culturally-appropriate health care to more than 52,000 individuals living in Washington and Yamhill counties. Through 17 clinics they offer primary care, mental and behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services. One in 14 people call Virginia Garcia their medical home.
Virginia Garcia opened its first pharmacy in 2003 at the Cornelius Clinic and under the guidance of Director of Pharmacy, Christine Hicks. Since 2003 the program has grown to exist in every primary care clinic, serving the patients of Virginia Garcia.
Notable programs created under Christine’s leadership include:
Creating a clinical pharmacist program: Through a collaboration with Pacific University School of Pharmacy and a HRSA Patient Safety Pharmacy Program, all Virginia Garcia primary care clinics have an integrated clinical pharmacist.
Co-Pay Assist program: Patients that have high co-pays often forgo medication. Christine developed a co-pay assist program that made medication affordable.
340B program: Developed a contract pharmacy program that covered two counties and opened access to the discounts at more than a dozen local chain pharmacy sites – increasing access to affordable medication for patients. She also developed a 340B compliance program, ensuring the health center remained in good standing with HRSA.
A1c testing: Implementation of process for pharmacy to review patients refilling diabetes medication to ensure they did not have overdue lab work. Pharmacies in Beaverton, Cornelius and Newberg were also trained on how to perform A1c testing, ensuring diabetic patients stayed on top of their disease.
Vaccination reconciliation: Each pharmacy was responsible for ensuring that reconciling vaccination requests with state Alert records in order to ensure patients are not duplicating immunizations.
Covid testing and vaccinations: During the pandemic all pharmacies created drive-up pharmacy pickup locations at each pharmacy, ensuring patients would still be able to access their medications. For those that could not leave their home, prescriptions were delivered – often by a pharmacist – to the patient directly.
COVID-19 home testing kits distribution: When home test kits were made available through the Federal government, Christine wanted to ensure that patients, and those in the community, readily had access to test kits they could use at home. She implemented a process that would ensure it was easy to for an individual to pick up as many test kits as anyone needed from a Virginia Garcia pharmacy.
Expanding integrated care to include Pharmacy: In 2018 Epic released a program known as Willow. The program, created specifically for pharmacy EHR, would integrate pharmacy patient records with those of their medical and dental records, allowing providers, dentists and pharmacists to access the same information, ensuring patients were receiving exactly the right care at the right time.
“For more than 20 years Christine Hicks has led the Virginia Garcia pharmacy program with integrity and vision. She is single-handedly responsible for hiring most of the current leadership team and believes in leading by example – spending time in the pharmacies, working through issues as a team and looking ahead at new and innovative ways to ensure our patients have the access they need to medication by removing the barriers that often prevent them from being healthy.”
-Kasi Woidyla, Marketing Communications Director, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
VG has a history of integrating care and this newest update made perfect sense for the health center. When Epic came out with Wisdom (the dental records tool), they were one of the first community health centers to adopt the program, successfully integrating medical and dental and because we were one of the first to integrate Wisdom it made sense that we would also utilize Willow.
Christine had been watching the program develop for several years, waiting for a release that would allow integration with Virginia Garcia’s current system in an efficient and effective way. When the program was ready, Virginia Garcia was one of the first five community health centers in the nation to implement Willow.
Under Christine’s guidance pharmacies were able to implement a program that will allow care team members to see details on a patient’s medications, when they were last refilled, and even address any concerns around drug interactions. (Imagine your dentist seeing your pharmacy record during a routine exam and noticing that your diabetes medication was due for a refill. They could help you get it ordered right from the dentist chair and you could pick it up on your way out of the clinic.) Willow will also allow patients to manage their prescriptions right from their MyChart account, helping them to manage not only their medication, but their health, all in one location.
For more than 20 years Christine Hicks has led the Virginia Garcia pharmacy program with integrity and vision. She is single-handedly responsible for hiring most of the current leadership team and believes in leading by example – spending time in the pharmacies, working through issues as a team and looking ahead at new and innovative ways to ensure our patients have the access they need to medication by removing the barriers that often prevent them from being healthy.
Christine Hicks retired from Virginia Garcia in July of this year and Virginia Garcia wants to make sure she is recognized for her many accomplishments at the Health Center. The programs and processes she has put into place during her tenure will live on thanks to the solid foundation they were created on, but it goes without saying that the pharmacies at Virginia Garcia would not be where they are today without her leadership, guidance, and innovation.
–Submission made by Kasi Woidyla, Marketing Communications Director, Virginia Garcia Health Center