Rural West Texas Veterans no longer have to travel to Big Spring, Texas, or to a local urgent care center to receive treatment for some common, non-emergency conditions. That’s thanks to the deployment of automated pharmacy dispensing machine called Omnicells.

They are now available in each of the West Texas VA Health Care System Community Based Outpatient Clinics.

Many non-emergency care medications were not previously available at the clinics due to storage, safety and security requirements for medications. Those medications include injectables for breathing treatments, antibiotics or anti-nausea.

Veterans needing such medications would have to travel to Big Spring or visit a local urgent care location or an emergency room to get them. This is no longer the case in West Texas and Southeast New Mexico, thanks to Omnicells.

Pictured above, nurse manager Mindy Flow operates a new Omnicell medicine dispensary machine at the clinic in Abilene, Texas.

Omnicell provides variety of medications

“This will provide a more seamless experience for the Veteran,” said Wendy Brown, deputy chief of Pharmacy. “Veterans will be able to have expanded types of treatment and leave the facility receiving the care they came in for.”

The Omnicells communicate with the main pharmacy via a secure network.

The Omnicell pharmaceutical dispensing machine allows the pharmacy to pre-stage common prescription medications in each of clinics. The Omnicell provides ready access to a variety of medications by the providers.

Connected via a secure network, the Omnicells communicate with the main pharmacy in Big Spring. When medications or treatments are running low, the pharmacy staff in Big Spring will be alerted and schedule the device to be restocked.

“This is a huge game changer for us,” said Mindy Flow, nurse manager at the Abilene clinic. “When a Veteran comes in and says they have a sinus infection or an ear infection, we can give them the necessary medication. We don’t have to send them out with a prescription to fill in a near-by pharmacy.”

Omnicell devices are a common practice in many in-patient hospitals and other facilities. This is a first for these VA clinics. The effort to procure these devices, develop safe health care practices and procedures was undertaken by the pharmacy staff to improve access to care.

“It makes the practice a lot easier and improves the overall care for each Veteran that visits the clinic,” said Dr. Cyril Obi, an Abilene clinic physician. “When a Veteran comes here with severe back pain and is unable to walk, we’ll be able to provide the treatment that can make them comfortable.”


Michael Cole is a public affairs officer for the West Texas Health Care System.

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Published on May. 24, 2021

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