MILWAUKIE, Ore. – December 14, 2017 – As deadly fires raged through California’s Napa Valley in October of 2017, the California Consonus Pharmacy team came together in truly inspiring fashion to serve and protect long-term care residents and families, and to support the staff who care for them.
Over the course of 12 trying days when the disaster was at its worst, six facilities served by Consonus were evacuated, and at least 675 residents were directly affected across a geographic area spanning 250 miles.
For their extraordinary service and self-sacrifice in this time of crisis, the efforts of all pharmacy staff who played a part are being recognized with a team Legends award—the company’s highest honor.
By any measure, the scope of their contribution is astounding. Under extreme pressure in a constantly volatile situation, they developed new systems to track patients and their caregivers, sometimes to multiple locations as the fires changed directions. They facilitated medication deliveries to other facilities, hotel lobbies, churches and private homes—even serving residents and facilities not contracted with Consonus.
Through it all, whether on the front lines in Vacaville, Calif., or in supporting roles in Oregon and Nevada, pharmacy employees shared one driving purpose. “Our team took care of the residents first. Period,” said Beth Biggs, Vice President of Operations.
She describes how staff worked directly with physicians and nurses to ensure residents wouldn’t incur harm, and how they made the rapid decisions necessary to keep them safe, without regard to cost. “It really was a miraculous effort.”
At the Vacaville location, employees worked long hours, even as many of their own homes were threatened and the fires came uncomfortably close to pharmacy headquarters. Rob Nunez, delivery supervisor, described smoke settling like fog throughout the building, and colleagues working with masks or towels over their faces.
“We all just wanted to help each other, and the teamwork was amazing,” Nunez said, looking back. “People needed their meds, and we had to get it done. That was our mentality.”
Roxanne Novak, Consonus Pharmacy general manager for California, saw staff working double shifts, eating on the run and filling orders while coughing in the smoke. “No one complained. No one asked to leave early to protect their own homes. They just wanted to make sure the residents had what they needed,” she said.
In supporting roles, key Consonus employees in Portland, Ore., and Las Vegas, Nev., traveled to California to assist, while other team members back home stayed engaged around the clock. Touch-base conference calls between pharmacy leadership and those on the ground were scheduled four times daily to make sure nothing slipped through the cracks.
From operational and consultant pharmacists and nurses to pharmacy technicians, operational pharmacists and delivery personnel, the effort touched every job description, and invaluable contributions were made by each pharmacy department, including intake, billing, packaging, order management, delivery, purchasing and the customer call center.
“It’s the definition of a team effort, and while I’m extremely grateful to everyone who assisted, I’m not surprised at all,” said Biggs. “No one is more deserving of this Legends award than those who were part of this incredible effort.”
“It’s a perfect example of the passion our employees have,” echoes Amy Braun, regional billing and operations manager. “It’s in challenging times like these that they’re at their best.”
About Consonus Healthcare Services
Operating for over 25 years, Consonus provides consulting, rehab, pharmacy and post-acute care transformation (PACT). Consonus’ comprehensive pharmacy services are designed specifically for the long-term care industry, which allows facilities to maximize occupancy, increase resident retention and improve residents’ functional independence. Based in Portland, Ore., Consonus serves more than 300 facilities nation-wide.