When Ken George started his career at Campbell County Health in October of 1980, the hospital was located in a small red brick building on West Eighth Street, site of what is now the Campbell County Senior Center. There were only two pharmacists, no pharmacy techs, and medication labels were typed by hand on a typewriter. The
Pharmacy was located in a room intended to be linen closet in a hallway off the main corridor, and Ken remembers squeezing by patients in beds in the hall, waiting for hospital rooms to open up.
Ken is retiring from CCH at the end of January after 35 years, and he has seen many changes, both at CCH and in healthcare in general.
Ken worked as a retail pharmacist for two years after graduating from the pharmacy school at the University of Wyoming. He wanted to work in a hospital setting, and interviewed for positions all over the state. When Ken and his wife Shirley were both interviewing for jobs in Gillette, the only place they could find to stay was the infamous Goings Hotel.
"There were people coming and going at all hours of the night," said Ken.
Six months after Ken started at the hospital, the current building was finished and everyone pitched in to move patients, equipment and supplies to the new location.
"The other pharmacist and both our wives helped us moved the medications from the old hospital to the new building," said Ken. "We couldn't trust temporary workers to handle the drugs, even moving a couple blocks away."
There were a lot fewer employees in those days too. Ken remembers attending the Annual Awards Banquet with all the CCH employees and spouses in the basement of the American Legion.
He had planned on retiring a year ago, but postponed the decision a year to help the department get through the Meditech 6.1 implementation, as one Pharmacy staff member was assigned to the project full-time.
"My wife retired from Campbell County School District two and one-half years ago, and now it's time for me to stop coming home from work at night."
When asked what he will miss the most, Ken names the entire Pharmacy staff and some of the co-workers that he’s known and worked with over the years, like John Arnold, Dave Hind, Kim Johnson, Nancy Long, and Missy Poloncic. Ken says he could never have imagined that CCH would have the number and variety of specialty physicians and services like a cardiac cath lab and
medical oncology. The additional physicians and services have contributed to the growth in medication doses and Pharmacy revenue over the years. Since FY 2002, for example:
- Total medication doses administered In FY 2002: 345,776
- Total medication doses administered In FY 2015: 520,026
- Total Pharmacy revenue in FY 2002: $6,931,938, with a total drug expense of $2,612,024
- Total Pharmacy revenue in FY 2015: 17,089,126, with a total drug expense of $7,340,550
One of the most positive changes Ken has seen is the opportunity for the clinical pharmacist to become more involved with patient care. This has come about with the growth of the hospitalist program, a collaboration of care that is positive for both providers and patients.
What Ken won't miss: staying at the hospital for several days at a time during snowstorms over the years. He also counts 10 different CEOs during his tenure, noting that it's about 3.5 years per CEO in his career.
Ken and Shirley have plans to do more traveling after he retires, with trips to Las Vegas and Israel already scheduled. He may also fit in some more hunting trips!
Thank you Ken, for your dedicated service to Campbell County Health.