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My AMH Story Masthead

AMH Pharmacy Department History

Relationship with AMH

(A Pharmacist’s Story, by Bob Spivak)

In 1988, my director at the time, Alonzo Sudler, Jr. (affiliated with AMH for 42 years, counting his apprenticeship years 1946-1950), wrote a letter upon his retirement sharing an early history of our department. The following are some facts he shared with us:

In the beginning, the Pharmacy was located in a clinic area of the Founders Building which has since been demolished. Before 1925, the Pharmacy needs of the hospital were provided by a Mr. Tiffenbach, who had a Drug Store in Jenkintown. He would come in one or two afternoons per week to make the necessary homeopathic dilutions of drugs, ointments, pills, and plasters. At the time, ¼ of the Drug Room was filled with Homeopathic drugs. The first resident Pharmacist was Miss Frances Marr, who started at AMH on February 26, 1925, and remained through January 1926.

When I first started in 1975, the Pharmacy was located on the first floor by the “Buerger Building” elevators. The department had moved there just a few years prior from its original location. Then, in March of 1983, the Pharmacy moved into its current location in the basement of the Widener Building. The department also has satellite pharmacies in the Harrison Building, O.R., critical care, and oncology areas.

Since those early days, there have been several individuals that have lead or directed our department. The department has undergone many changes through the years. In 1975, we had a staff of 10 people. Our hours were Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 9 pm; and on weekends we closed at 5 pm. If medications were needed while we were closed, there was a small locked “night cabinet” just outside the department. This was stocked with commonly used and emergency-type drugs. Now, our department never closes. It continuously provides services to the hospital staff and its patients. Our staff has grown to approximately 90 people. In addition to our director, the Pharmacy has assistant directors/managers; supervisors; clinical specialists and coordinators; lead pharmacists; content specialists; staff pharmacists; technicians, residents; a purchaser; and a secretary. We used to dispense medications via an old traditional model of sending several days worth of medications to each patient upon a physician order.  Later, we had hand profiles and instituted a unit-dose distribution system, dispensing only a 24 hour supply of medication. Finally, with computerization and advances in technology, we stock many medications in automated cabinets on patient areas so upon pharmacist verification, nurses have medications more readily available. Additionally, pharmacists are decentralizing and rounding as part of a team approach, recommending the best practices for the patients. Our technological advances have seen computers, scanners, and automated machinery, such as drug carousels and dispensing cabinets.

The first 100 years has seen many positive changes and advances in how our department operates. I am excited to see the initiatives that will take place in the next 100 years as we continue to seek more efficient, cost effective, and safe ways to conduct pharmaceutical services.

Bob Spivak, RPh

Bob Spivak, RPh 
Unit-Dose Supervisor, January 1983