ACP Partners with Buchanan General Hospital to Deliver BuchananCares Program

OAKWOOD, VA (AUGUST 2, 2022) – A program to enhance the transition of care from hospital to home is now in full swing between the Appalachian College of Pharmacy (ACP), Buchanan General Hospital in Grundy and the Virginia Department of Health, while at the same time it is expanding to Clinch Valley Medical Center in Richlands.

The pilot program, BuchananCares, started in 2019 just prior to the pandemic and Dr. Randall Cole, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and pharmacist in charge of ACP’s Mountain Care Center, noted that while the pandemic had slowed the program some in the beginning, it has continued to grow and expand and now has two ACP fellows assigned to continue to grow the program in the future. Student pharmacists also work with the program throughout the year.

Cole successfully applied on behalf of ACP for a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Pharmacists Association which provided a jump start to the pilot program, which was recently featured by the Centers for Disease Control in its June Community Preventive Services Task Force posting. The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide) is a website that is a collection of evidence-based findings and recommendations of the Community Preventive Services Task Force. The full story may be found at

“BuchananCares has made impactful changes at the pharmacy college and hospital and with patients and their healthcare providers,” Cole told the Community Guide in Action.

ACP’s Dr. MaKayla Funk works with the Buchanan General Hospital component and ACP’s Dr. Melanie Hagy works to oversee the new program being started at Clinch Valley Medical Center.

Cole noted the program is designed to enhance patient care as the transition is made from hospital to home and to assist hospitals in avoiding readmissions, especially by Medicare patients, since hospitals are penalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services when readmissions occur within a 30-day period.

“We try to be the glue that connects the hospital to the doctor and educates the patients,” Cole said.

The primary goal of the program is to ensure patients participating in the program have an understanding of the medications that have been prescribed for them, how to take them and the knowledge they have someone they can contact if they have questions.

Prior to discharge, the ACP team meets with hospitalized patients to enroll them in the program, to complete a medication review, to discuss self-help goals, symptoms to monitor and reasons to seek additional care. A second student pharmacist is assigned to follow the patient for 30-days post-discharge and report back to Dr. Cole. The primary care physician is also notified of any medication-related problems discovered during the follow-up phase. In the pilot program, Dr. Latisha Hilton, the attending physician at BGH, was accompanied by ACP students assigned to work in the program.

According to Cole, the key to the program is education, giving patients the confidence they need to take charge of their own medical issues and understand how those issues can be controlled or enhanced by the medications they are prescribed.

Initially, the program focused on patients who had one of five disease conditions – acute myocardial infarction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, heart failure or pneumonia. It has since been expanded to include all disease conditions.

“It all falls under the old saying, that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” Cole said.

Buchanan General Hospital CEO Robert Ruchti shared that post-study surveys had shown comments from 100 percent of patients that having taken part in the program, they had a better understanding of their health conditions and the medications used to treat those conditions.

“We have been collaborating with the Appalachian College of Pharmacy over the last several years on a number of different initiatives, all of which have been successful,” Ruchti said. “We are proud to have ACP in the community and their support of healthcare and of the hospital.”

“The transition program provided pharmacy students with an excellent learning experience, an opportunity to be a part of the healthcare team and most importantly, a chance to make a difference in our community and patients’ lives,” Cole told the Community Guide. “Nurses and physicians all commented that having the same student on their daily patient rounds helped the team with medication questions and patients’ education.”

“We have been so pleased with the initial outcome of this pilot program and we look forward to the future expansion of it,” said ACP Dean Susan Mayhew. “Dr. Cole has done a wonderful job in getting it up and running in partnership with the folks at Buchanan General Hospital and now Clinch Valley Medical Center. We look forward to our pharmacists and student pharmacists being an integral part of delivering quality patient care.”

The Appalachian College of Pharmacy is the only three-year Doctor of Pharmacy program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded in 2003, the college accepted its first students in 2005. It is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its mission is to cultivate a learning community committed to education, community outreach and the professional development of pharmacists. Its graduate pharmacists are now practicing throughout the United States.

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