TMC Outpatient Pharmacy Changes: Rx for Convenience

Terry Allen knows firsthand the dilemma facing some patients when they leave the hospital, prescription order in hand.

“A lot of people don’t have good transportation. Maybe they live by themselves and no one can go pick it up for them and they just aren’t feeling up to going to get it filled,” said Allen, who serves on the patient engagement committee of Southern Arizona’s new accountable care organization called Arizona Connected Care.

The risk: They might not take the medication at all.  In some cases, that could mean another trip to the hospital.

That’s about to change.

The outpatient pharmacy at Tucson Medical Center is undergoing some sweeping changes.

It now accepts 98 percent of all large private insurance plans and most of the state’s Medicaid plans, known more familiarly as AHCCCS.

 And it is rolling out a new initiative that will allow patients to fill their prescriptions before they leave the hospital.

Allen calls that a step in the right direction. “I would think that would be far more convenient. It just removes one more issue that they would have to face when they leave the hospital and in the end, it’s going to help patients.”

Amber Jackson, the business manager of outpatient pharmacy, agreed the changes will make the pharmacy far more convenient. Previously, the pharmacy was limited to those enrolled in the employee health plan or who could make full payments in cash, since insurance plans weren’t in the mix.

“We turned away many prescriptions each day,” Jackson said. “Now, all those folks who had to go to another pharmacy are welcome to come to this one. There’s a huge convenience factor for employees, as well, in being able to drop off your prescription when you come in to work and then pick it up when you leave work.”

Outpatient pharmacy will be open to employees, patients of the hospital and anyone whose doctor is part of Saguaro Physicians, a group of doctors employed by TMC.

Jackson said there’s a growing trend nationwide to provide outpatient pharmacy services. Aside from the income generating potential, which would be used at Tucson Medical Center to support other programs at the non-profit hospital, there’s a growing emphasis nationally on holding hospitals accountable for the quality of care they deliver.

“This will hopefully help people who have come to the hospital be healthier after they leave the hospital. Before, people might go home and just not get their prescription, or lose them on the way home. If they can grab them on the way out the door, especially now that we accept almost all insurance plans, they can go home with their antibiotics and they’re less likely to get sick again or build up a resistance to antibiotics.”

“It’s all about better outcomes and better compliance.”

Employees dropping off refills for maintenance prescriptions are asked to provide a 24-hour turnaround time if at all possible.

The pharmacy is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more information call the Outpatient Pharmacy at 324-1890.


  1. Mary Ann Shupe says:

    This is great but I was hoping you meant more accessible physically. It may not seem like the OP pharmacy is too far away from an entrance/exit but for those with difficulty walking or difficulty breathing, it’s a long walk. I wish there were some way to have the pharmacy closer to a convenient entrance to the hospital. I park in the ED parking lot when I can and go in thru the ED entrance and winding hallway (winding due to the construction) and I have to stop usually twice to catch my breath and ease the pain in my back – and there aren’t any chairs around any more to rest for a minute or two. In fact, there aren’t as many chairs anywhere in the TMC hallways as there used to be. Recently my roommate was hospitalized for more than a couple of weeks and when I visited which was almost daily, I’d get a courtesy ride to her unit but usually had to walk back when leaving because it was after hours for the courtesy drivers. I’ve leaned against the walls, perched on a bed in the hallway to rest – really not very comfortable or convenient.
    Sorry, I know this was about the pharmacy but as good as TMC is, there are some things I wish they could change. Thanks for listening.

    • Hi Mary Ann. You make several very good points. Navigating the long hallways of TMC can truly be a challenge for many and with our surreys being driven by volunteers–late hours present an even greater challenge. In regards to chairs in the hallways, as the construction runs its course, I will be sure to bring this up and see what we can do to address it. Thank you very much for taking the time to give us your valuable input.

  2. Linda Vargas - Case Management says:

    Will the Pharmacy ever have Sunday hours? Patients discharged on Sundays fall right into the categories mentioned above – they risk getting sicker and possible readmission. Even shorter hours 10a.m. to 3 or 4p.m. Thanks –

  3. Connie Williams says:

    Maybe you should get an outpatient pharmacy management system capable of doing mail order – then patients and employees won’t have to come in to get their maintenance meds. McKesson EnterpriseRx can do this for you…please contact me if you are interested


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    TMC Outpatient Pharmacy Changes: Rx for Convenience – Tucson Medical Center

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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