Chapter 02:  Expanding Pharmacy Services, Part I: Creating Connections


Chapter 02: Expanding Pharmacy Services, Part I: Creating Connections



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The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - Building the Institution; Leadership; On Leadership; MD Anderson History; MD Anderson Snapshot; Building/Transforming the Institution; Multi-disciplinary Approaches; MD Anderson Culture

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History


Lesley Williams Brunet:

Do you remember your feelings when you first started, the issues that you faced?

Roger W. Anderson, PhD:

Yes. They had a very active pharmacy at that point but they were going through -- it actually has continued every year since but we’re going through some very high growth of medication, orders, and higher complexity of those orders, more investigational studies, and they were experiencing some service response difficulties. They needed to expand their staff and they needed to expand some of the satellite operations that they had and needed more. And so I think that, while it was still a very good basic pharmacy, probably in standards across the country at the upper end, but they still had a lot of service things that they wanted me to focus on, and that included everything from a large number of staff to be available for such things as questions, drug information, but also they were very concerned about turnaround time, response -- how long does it take to get the first dose. And they also wanted to have a clinical program that would grow and be a large resource just as the drug distribution piece needs to be, and that had barely started. They had basically one drug information specialist.

Lesley Williams Brunet:

Is that what you mean when you talk about a clinical program?

Roger W. Anderson, PhD:

Yeah, we’ve changed the title to clinical specialist now but really at the time it was drug information specialist. And that person is still here today. That’s Bill Dana. He was the only one.

Lesley Williams Brunet:

And is this primarily for investigational drugs or all kinds?

Roger W. Anderson, PhD:

For all drugs. Not even a specific focus in investigational. No, at the time they had one pharmacist that was involved with investigational drugs but that part of the operation needed to be expanded greatly, too. And so I think that the principal direction I got from Mr. Kevin Andrews, as well as one of the things I early on knew I wanted to do and did do, and that was establish a much closer than they had had relationship with the medical staff. Because this is such a medical staff driven institution. And while they certainly did things and knew the medical staff members I don’t think that they had the time, perhaps, to spend working more specifically with individual medical staff members. So I spent a lot of time going out of the pharmacy.

Lesley Williams Brunet:

Now, are you talking about physicians or nurses?

Roger W. Anderson, PhD:

Actually, it turns out both. When I say medical I’m thinking physicians. And so I really established a one-on-one type of working relationship with all of the key department heads within the medical staff. And I can remember lots of discussions with people like Dr. Freireich [oral history interview] who, at the time, of the Department of Developmental Therapeutics was still called that. And then there was Internal Medicine with Dr. Haynie. So I spent a lot of time with both of them but probably more time with Dr. Freireich because he had really the most aggressive kinds of trials and he had the most aggressive type of service to deal with. So I worked with all of the so-called DT faculty, a lot.

Lesley Williams Brunet:

I’m very interested in that.

Roger W. Anderson, PhD:

Yeah, they had a lot of concerns about pharmacy responsiveness and all those issues so I wanted to be sure that I worked with them on a very close basis. Now, also though, at the same time, in probably equal focus, was nursing. And I spent a lot of time. In fact, weekly meetings and rounds. I established a walk around rounds with nursing because they were, of course, and still are, the way the drugs get delivered. On the in-patient basis especially, are through them. And so that was something that again Mr. McKinley and Steve Stephens knew about. Really because they were so busy or trying to keep up they hadn’t spent maybe the amount of time they wanted to or could with that relationship, and so I worked with both Miss Hilkemeyer [oral history interview], though Joyce Alt [oral history interview] had been named the director of nursing. So I worked then, really, mostly with Joyce Alt and we established a wonderful relationship till the day that she retired. I probably spent 30 plus percent of my time working with her and her associates. The one that I remember the most was Pat Tedder. She was the associate -- I forget the exact title, but the associate director of nursing. So I would have more than one meeting, I think, a week with them, and then I would go around and meet with head nurses and --

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Chapter 02:  Expanding Pharmacy Services, Part I: Creating Connections