Published on October 25th, 2022 | by TLV News0
North Mississippi Health Services Partnership with the University of Mississippi Expands Health Care in Union County, Mississippi
Support of UM School of Pharmacy helps clinic improve care for patients
A partnership between North Mississippi Health Services and the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is giving patients at one rural clinic a higher level of health care while extending the decades-long relationship between NMHS and Ole Miss.
Tupelo-based NMHS’s arrangement with the pharmacy school enables Adam Pate, UM clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice, to work with patients two days a week as the ambulatory care pharmacist in the NMHS New Albany Medical Clinic in New Albany.
Pate’s job at the clinic offers an extra touch beyond the care provided by the two staff physicians and one nurse practitioner to some 70 patients per day. The pharmacist is often able to gain insight into patients’ needs through follow-up calls and visits the clinic would otherwise not have the resources to do.
He does a lot of listening.
“Through my just listening to patients, I can often identify issues they may have,” Pate said. “A lot of those recently have been food insecurity and affording medications.
“I recently had a patient who was skipping meals every day because her daughter was unable to provide them for her and I said, ‘You know we have social workers who can get you Meals on Wheels.’ So, there’s a lot of those kind of things that we’re able to put into this umbrella of chronic care management.”
Often when patients are concerned or confused about their medications, Pate is also able to help.
“Sometimes I have to explain to the physicians, ‘Even though the patient didn’t say it on their last visit, they’re really worried about this one drug that you just started them on and they’re nervous to tell you that,'” he said.
“But they were willing to tell me their concerns over the phone in confidence, and I’m able to reassure them that I’ll work with their provider and we can easily switch their prescription to a similar drug without a problem.”
Pate also helps patients enroll in medication assistance programs that help fixed-income retirees afford expensive name brand medications often at no patient cost; assists physicians with complex patients who need chronic care management; interacts with patients during their annual wellness visits, confirms patients’ adherence to their medications and immunizations and conducts telehealth, visiting with patients over the phone.
“I tell patients I’m like the person at the front desk of the hotel,” Pate said. “You know, if you forget your toothbrush, just come down and we’ll figure it out. That kind of personal interaction is what we try to do, and it works out really well for patients overall.”
Pate has been an asset to the clinic, said Wes Pitts, a UM pharmacy graduate from Mantachie who serves as system director of pharmacy for NMHS and director of pharmacy at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
“Adam has really been able to demonstrate the impact of a pharmacist in a clinic setting, and it’s something that we’ve been able to replicate in other areas,” Pitts said. “He has done a very good job of proving the value that a pharmacist can add.”
The NMHS partnership with the School of Pharmacy is a win-win for both organizations, Pitts said.
“Ole Miss is always on the cutting edge of learning,” he said. “Likewise, we’re also on the cutting edge of innovations. So that collaboration, putting those two actions together, really does help us to achieve more.
“We’re happy to be able to partner with Ole Miss because the relationship really does spur on growth, which is beneficial for the health system. But I think it’s even more beneficial for our patients and the communities that we serve.”
The partnership also benefits UM pharmacy students.
“We are extremely grateful to North Mississippi Health Services for envisioning the benefit of a partnership with us so many years ago,” said Donna Strum, UM pharmacy dean. “Their continued support has opened doors for our students and created opportunities for their growth – outstanding face-to-face opportunities with patients that give them early experience in their chosen profession.”
NMHS has a post-graduate Year 1 pharmacy residency program that’s accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Pate serves the program as an instructor.
“We have four residents annually who rotate with him through different sites,” Pitts said. “They gain good experience and have been able to do some innovative things through Adam’s practice that we’ve been able to replicate in some of our other clinics, particularly related to annual wellness visits and chronic care management.”
Additionally, the partnership can help students land a job after graduation. Many of the NMHS residents have been offered full-time jobs with the company, which serves 24 counties in north Mississippi and northwest Alabama.
“Because of their on-site training, they’re familiar with our facilities and processes, and we’re able to incorporate them as long as we have positions available,” Pitts said. “We certainly like to keep those we’ve trained and reap the benefits of their education.”
The university strives to be a resource and partner for industry though mutually beneficial relationships.
By Bill Dabney