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Published on August 28, 2017

A pharmacist’s last callA pharmacist’s last call

What does Peter Scarafile, RPh, MS, director of Cape Cod Healthcare Pharmacies love about his job?

Just about everything.

“I love working at Cape Cod Hospital and I love living on Cape Cod,” said Scarafile. “When I took this job in 1975, it wasn’t going to be a temporary thing, but I don’t know that I would have predicted being here for 42 years.”

As predictions go, Scarafile has beat the odds of longevity for employment in one place as a pharmacist. The 2014 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey published by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacies showed that pharmacists worked on average of 11.8 years with their current hospital employer.

His tenure at CCH will come to an end on September 1, when he will retire from the organization.

While there have been many changes over the years in the pharmacist’s role and healthcare in general, Scarafile has lived and worked by two questions posed to him a long time ago by a mentor.

“Would you operate the way you operate if you owned the business? And, would you operate the way you operate if your mother was in that bed?,” he said. “Those two questions have stuck in my mind more than anything and have guided me along the way. You have the financial side of pharmacy and you have the clinical side.”

When he arrived in 1975, there was a director of pharmacy, an assistant director, plus three other pharmacists. And the pharmacy was a centralized department located in the basement of the hospital.

“Everything was in one spot,” said Scarafile.

“Now there are 40 pharmacists between Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospitals and the four Cape Cod Healthcare retail pharmacies.”

How Things Have Changed

He exudes excitement when he talks about all the changes that have taken place within the hospital, in healthcare and the evolving pharmacists’ role.

“When I started here, our responsibility was the distribution and safe handling and administration of medications. That’s still a big part of it but now we have an added role, the clinical piece,” said Scarafile.

“We are more involved in the selection of the drugs, prescribing, dosing, and adjustments that may need to be made according to the patient’s kidney and liver functions. Clinically, our role has changed in that we do rounds in the critical care and cardiac units, we teach classes and have become more of a resource (for the physicians, nurses, staff, patients and the community).

According to Scarafile, pharmacists are now:

  • Involved in a more collaborative approach in patient care working as an integral part of the healthcare team.
  • Becoming more specialized, focusing in specific areas such as cancer medications, geriatrics [pdf], (healthcare of older people) compounding (pharmaceutical preparation of a drug to meet a patient’s individual needs when a commercial drug doesn’t meet the need).
  • Helping to remove barriers for patients filling their prescriptions. The four Cape Cod Healthcare retail pharmacies are helping to lift that barrier. Patients are leaving the hospitals with their medications instead of having to stop at a chain pharmacy to fill their prescriptions.
  • Helping patients be successful with treatment of their chronic diseases. The pharmacists are giving talks in the community to educate residents about medications.
  • Educating the public through the ”Brown Bag” series: residents bring their medications in a brown bag to a community center. A pharmacist and often times, a pharmacy student, will go over their meds with the resident and answer their questions. Scarafile says he loves doing this series.
  • Teaching pharmacy students, who do a rotation at the hospitals. He is an adjunct professor at five colleges and greatly enjoys the interaction with students.

Scarafile notes that his basic role hasn’t essentially changed that much over time.

“Fundamentally, my role is the same in that I manage people, which is always interesting,” he said. “It’s finding the right role for the right person. And there is more sophisticated equipment and technology that help to increase our productivity.

“I get excited when a new Cape Cod Healthcare retail pharmacy opens up and we help better serve our patients. They don’t have to stop at a pharmacy on the way home, they can leave the hospital with their medications. A mother with a newborn doesn’t have to be concerned about making a stop on her way home, or an oncology patient who needs certain medications doesn’t have to be concerned that their local pharmacy won’t have what they need. We’re removing barriers to patients filling their prescriptions, at the hospitals and the Fontaine and Stoneman Outpatient Centers, which is always my goal,” he said.

The Future of Pharmacists

Scarafile foresees pharmacists becoming more specialized in the future.

“They will either be involved with the distribution side of pharmacy or the clinical area. And I see them more involved with the selection of drugs for patients and less dispensing. They will be imbedded in physician group practices, which according to many studies reduces costs and improves outcomes in drug selections,” he said.

Scarafile has seen many changes within the hospital, healthcare, administration and pharmacy, and he is proud to be working at Cape Cod Healthcare.

” I think the current state of Cape Cod Healthcare is the best it’s ever been and we should all be proud of this as Cape Codders,” he said.