Airmen, bot refills meds for TRICARE recipients

Photos by Senior Airman JAMES HENSLEY

The Arizona Refilling Center is a little known unit located behind the Block House and 56th Medical Group.

“At the ARC we handle all beneficiaries’ prescriptions that come to Luke,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Munoz-Case, 56th Medical Support Squadron ARC acting NCO in charge. “With the changes in TRICARE, our work load has increased along with the number of beneficiaries over the last couple months. It’s increased because with more beneficiaries we have more prescriptions to fill.”

In 2014, The ARC center refilled approximately 141,000 prescriptions. From January to September of this year they have filled 102,622, and the numbers are expected to go up with more beneficiaries using TRICARE.

“A lot of places won’t take TRICARE for free like on base,” Munoz-Case said. “We handle the Phoenix and Scottsdale area since we also have a site in Scottsdale. The Scottsdale site also benefits those who live in Tempe, Chandler or Mesa so they don’t have to drive all the way out to Luke.”

The Airmen in the ARC focus on filling prescriptions that go out to area pharmacies.

“We don’t handle patients directly except in some over the phone instances,” Munoz-Case said. “We deal with patient refills only, so we don’t deal with typing up new prescriptions or patients bringing us new prescriptions. Our sole focus is to refill prescriptions and do so in a timely and efficient manner.”

The ARC has a robotic arm system that assists in getting these refills out quickly.

“The robot helps fill 60 percent of the total prescriptions,” Munoz-Case said. “When it’s down, it takes us a lot longer to fill prescriptions.”

Staff Sgt. Aaron Munoz-Case, 56th MDSS Arizona Refilling Center acting NCO in charge, checks prescriptions to ensure proper medication is packed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Oct. 19, 2015. The ARC handles refilling prescriptions for all Tri Care Beneficiaries in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area.

Having the time to focus on getting prescriptions filled rather than having direct patient contact helps the Airmen of the ARC get prescriptions filled correctly in a shorter amount of time.

“I like working at the ARC,” said Airman 1st Class Michael Pacla, 56th MDSS pharmacy technician. “It’s good knowing the patients, their medications, and things to look out for including allergies or other conditions.”

Working in the ARC may seem like an easy job, but it requires laser focused attention to details.

“The pharmacy is not just about putting pills in a bottle,” Munoz-Case said. “It must be done correctly and with extreme attention to detail. We do our part to keep our patients healthy.”

The ARC supplies the main pharmacy, satellite pharmacy and the prescription machine in the Luke Air Force Base Exchange providing quality service for the improved health and wellness of TRICARE beneficiaries.

Staff Sgt. Aaron Munoz-Case, 56th MDSS ARC acting NCO in charge, adjusts the robotic arm. The robotic arm system helps Airmen at the ARC refill approximately 60 percent of all prescriptions.