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NDSH, DHS partner in program

Changes in state law concerning how prescription medications are distributed last year have created a shared pharmacy program between the North Dakota State Hospital and the state Department of Human Services regional service centers. 

North Dakota State Hospital Superintendent Alex Schweitzer said Monday the tele-pharmacy program has worked well since it started in July. Before the program started, doctors with the DHS regional service centers were having problems ensuring the proper amounts of prescription medications were getting to their patients.

The North Dakota State Hospital Governing Body heard a report about the program at its quarterly meeting Monday. Schweitzer said the State Hospital has a full-service pharmacy and is now providing pharmacy services to all of the DHS regional service centers in the state.

“Our pharmacists can consult with the regional service center personnel to make sure the right kind and amount of prescription medication is getting to the right patient,” Schweitzer said.

Changes in state law required better oversight of how prescription medications were distributed. One idea considered was having each regional service center employ its own pharmacist. Schweitzer said the cost would have been high. Instead, DHS and State Hospital officials came up with the tele-pharmacy program by which doctors and nurses can consult with pharmacists at the State Hospital pharmacy about the proper amount and type of prescription medication regional service center patients can receive.

“The program meets the guidelines of the State Board of Pharmacy,” Schweitzer said.

Joan Slusser, the State Hospital director of pharmacy, said the program is working very well and she will have a full report on the program in July.

In other business, the Governing Body reviewed and approved the 2013 safety program for the State Hospital. Safety Officer John Devary reviewed five recommendations for improvement, including conducting a minimum of two emergency preparedness drills in 2014. Devary said one of those drills is always a tornado drill in April. Governing Body member Dr. Shelly Peltier said another tornado drill in the summer would be a good idea. The Governing Body agreed and changed the number of drills to three, including two tornado drills.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454