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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Outpatient Pharmacy Reducing Wait Times

January 27, 2012


Marine Veteran Colin Doyle and Pharmacist Annie Truong. 

CUTLINE: Marine Veteran Colin Doyle picks up an urgent prescription from Pharmacist Annie Truong.

PHOTO:  Bobbi Gruner

The Outpatient Pharmacy at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) fills almost 2,000 prescriptions at its window every day. Many of these are for routine refills and non-urgent medications; consequently, creating long wait times for Veterans who have critical medication needs, are being discharged from the hospital, or were seen in the emergency room.

To help solve this problem and to avoid running out of medicine, Veterans are urged to order their next refill as soon as they receive a delivery. There are several easy and quick ways to refill prescriptions.

Internet (Fast & Easy) – Use VA’s MyHealtheVet website at It is fast, easy, convenient, and secure.

Automated Telephone Refill Hotline (Fast & Easy) – The Automated Prescription Refill Hotline is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. The telephone number is 713-794-7648 or toll-free 1-800-454-1062. Your prescription number is located on the top left corner of a prescription container.

Mail – Mail the computerized refill form that came with the prescription. This method takes longer because of postal delivery processing times.

Drop-Off Boxes – There are three drop-off boxes available at the MEDVAMC to return computerized refill slips:  (1) Near the rotating doors at the main entrance, (2) Outside Prime Care Clinic #3, and (3) the Outpatient Pharmacy Waiting Room on the 1st Floor.
In an effort to reduce unacceptable, long waits for urgent medication needs, the Outpatient Pharmacy will not accept routine prescription refill requests or fill new, non-emergency medications at its window beginning April 2, 2012. Refills and non-urgent medications will be mailed to Veterans. 

The Outpatient Pharmacy will make exceptions for emergency situations on a case-by-case basis. This might include a Veteran who has run out of critical medications such as insulin or blood pressure medications.

To obtain a new prescription when no refills are left, Veterans must speak with their health care provider or contact the 24-hour VA Telecare Center at 713-794-8985 or toll-free 1-800-639-5137.

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Awarded re-designation for Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services in 2008, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center serves as the primary health care provider for more than 130,000 Veterans in southeast Texas and provides some of the most complex care within the VA Health Care System. The DeBakey VA employs nearly 3,600 staff and is one of 49 institutions within the prestigious Texas Medical Center, one of the largest health and research centers in the world. The DeBakey VA is home to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic; Network Polytrauma Center; award-winning Cardiac and General Surgery Program; Liver Transplant Center; Epilepsy and Cancer Centers of Excellence; Substance Abuse Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative; Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence; Rehabilitation Research of Excellence focusing on mild to moderate traumatic brain injury; Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center; $26.8 million Research and Development Program; and Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Center. The hospital offers sophisticated, cutting-edge technology such as PET/CT imaging, the Evident™ microwave ablation system, a CyberKnife®, a Varian Trilogy linear accelerator, a Philips Wide Bore Computed Tomography Simulator, the OR•Control System, the Abiomed Impella 2.5 catheter-based heart pump, and the Sapien heart valve. For more than 50 years, the DeBakey VA has served as the primary teaching facility for our major affiliate, Baylor College of Medicine and operates the largest VA residency program in the nation with 270 residents. Each academic year, more than 2,179 students are trained through 194 affiliation agreements with institutions of higher learning. Including the outpatient clinics in Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lufkin, Richmond, and Texas City, MEDVAMC outpatient clinics logged almost 1.3 million outpatient visits in fiscal year 2011. For the latest news releases and information about the MEDVAMC, visit