HCN News & Notes

CDH Expands Pharmacy as Part of Cancer Center Project

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital recently went live with the operation of its expanded pharmacy, which is the first visible and tangible part of the Massachusetts General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

“Renovations to the pharmacy are an essential underpinning to the future of cancer care at Cooley Dickinson,” said Dr. Mark Novotny, chief medical officer. An expanded pharmacy with new oncology pharmacy staff allows Cooley Dickinson to offer people living with cancer the same treatment regimens, protocols, and safety for chemotherapy and radiation that Mass General Cancer Center physicians use.

“This is about getting Mass General Cancer Center quality at Cooley Dickinson Hospital,” said Dr. Sean Mullally, medical oncologist and medical director of the CDH cancer center.

In addition, the oversight of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center means people newly diagnosed or living with cancer no longer need to decide if they should go to Boston for care.
“They can come here, and their team will help them decide what care they should receive and where,” Novotny said.

The renovated pharmacy includes a new sterile-preparation space with separate rooms for chemotherapy and intravenous compounding. Chemotherapy is drug treatment given in pill, injection, and intravenous forms to kill cancer cells. The sterile-prep area has positive air pressure and hoods that filter air to prevent possible contamination while preparing the drugs.

The chemotherapy prep area has negative air pressure to reduce the risk of chemotherapy exposure and specialized chemotherapy hoods that filter air to prevent contamination and preserve negative pressure to protect staff. Improved storage, more automation, and fail-safe technologies reduce the risks of introducing errors when dispensing medications from the pharmacy. Chemotherapy regimens will be reviewed and approved by on-site oncology clinical pharmacists and prepared by chemotherapy pharmacy technicians dedicated to the cancer center.

The renovations to the pharmacy were needed to provide the right chemotherapy hoods, space, sterile prep areas, and ventilation for mixing chemotherapy according to best practices. In addition, the renovations and expanded space increase the standard of care for all Cooley Dickinson patients with an increased focus on quality and safety.

Cooley Dickinson and the Massachusetts General Cancer Center have collaborated on cancer care since 2009. In 2013, CDH became an affiliate of Mass General and Partners HealthCare System. This fall, the Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson will relocate to a new facility in the North Building of Cooley Dickinson’s Locust Street campus.