Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Chief of Pharmacy receives prestigious award
Sharon Castle will be the first to tell you that a pharmacist’s role is much more than filling prescriptions – it’s to make sure the medications given are as safe and effective as possible for the patient. That’s the motivation that drove Castle, chief of Pharmacy at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Chief, to lead her team to be the fourth among all VA medical centers nationwide for opioid safety and improving care for Veterans. That achievement also led to Castle receiving the Lewis W. Blackman Healthcare Executive Award from the South Carolina Hospital Association in Columbia, South Carolina, on April 12.
“Charleston VAMC made significant strides in the last two years regarding opioid safety and implementing alternatives to manage chronic pain,” Castle said. “This award validates the dedication and commitment put forth by our entire team—but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done.”
Castle, who co-chairs the Pain Oversight Committee and leads the Opioid Safety Initiative at Charleston VAMC, and her colleagues have helped decrease opioid prescriptions by 33 percent since 2013. Together the interdisciplinary team has helped more than 800 Veterans transition safely from opioid medication to alternative pain management treatments.
“It’s truly an honor to receive this award but it really belongs to all the nurses, physicians, pain management specialists and mental health professionals who made this possible,” said Castle. “I’m thankful the VA is being recognized for its patient safety efforts and I hope this award inspires others to reinvest in themselves and their commitment to ‘Do no harm.’”
The Lewis W. Blackman Awards celebrate achievements of patient safety champions in South Carolina and set a standard of excellence in health care quality and patient safety.