Dear Camp Onas Parent/Guardian,
We want to make you aware of, and help you understand Camp Onas’s medication policy, so you can plan and prepare for the summer. The state of Pennsylvania is rather restrictive and specific about what nurses are permitted to accept as documentation for medications and is different than what you as a parent are familiar with.
This is for all medications* brought to camp and includes any over-the-counter medicine/non-FDA-approved products not stocked at Onas and approved by our camp doctor. (When you complete the health form you will be asked to reject any of these medications that we have available that are not appropriate for your child) Any medication on the list must be overseen by our health staff. This is a requirement by the state and our insurance.
For Camp Onas to give any medication we need two specific things:
- Nurses in PA need an ORDER from a PRESCRIBER to give medications to their patients. We have standing orders for basics like Tylenol and 3x antibiotic ointment but cannot give any other medications needed by the camper without this. Doctors know about this and should be able to be done via email.
- Nurses can only administer medications in their ORIGINAL CONTAINER (from the pharmacy or commercial packaging. They must not be expired and be taken as prescribed – i.e. nurses aren’t allowed to deviate from the prescriber’s written order.)
And because we’re a camp that deals with 160 people at a time, we do not have the ability to use traditional bottles (for medications taken daily) and require INDIVIDUAL PACKAGING from a pharmacy. All pharmacy chains have the ability to do this and we have a local option that offers the service for a few dollars a prescription.
Please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email if you have questions. We know it’s a lot! (610) 847-5858, [email protected]
–The Camp Onas Staff
In short, ALL medications* coming to camp need to have:
- A dated ORDER from a licensed physician/ practitioner telling our nurses to give the medication.
- Arrive in pharmacy-prepared, individual-dose packaging (ex: blister packs, pill packs).
- Prescriptions & Orders required for ALL Daily Medications* (Including medications* a parent/guardian might generally give without a prescription).
What do I need to do?
Tell your doctor’s office that your child needs an order for each medication* you want them to take while at camp. We have a printable form on our website to assist with this (to email, fax, drop off, etc.) though some doctors/practitioners may use their own prescription pads/stationary or online orders program … any of those options are acceptable. Be sure they include all daily non-prescription medications, supplements, vitamins, etc. your child will take while at camp. Ask your provider to write both a prescription and an order for each of those medications*. The prescription is for the pharmacy to package the medication and the order is for the nurse to give the medication (yes, even over-the-counter medications). Pennsylvania statutes require that all medications* need both a prescription and prescriber’s order.
In Pennsylvania, nurses are not permitted to give a medication* without an order from the prescriber, even if a parent/ guardian requests the medication be given.
Pennsylvania is a regulation-heavy state with regards to health care and child safety. First, nurses are required at camps (and we wouldn’t consider running Onas without them!) Second, Pennsylvania nurses cannot give any medication without a licensed prescribers’ order. Further, regulations require that all medications come from a container that was “last touched” by a pharmacist (or is in its original commercial container.)
We require pharmacy-prepared blister packs/ pill packs because if all medications came to Onas in their original bottles, the time it would take for campers to receive their medications would cut into campers’ meal, activity, and free time.
What about the occasional medications my child sometimes needs?
Camp Onas nurses are allowed to dispense the as-needed medications approved by you in the on-line health form as needed. Those medications have been prescribed by Camp’s doctor to be used as directed for their indicated use (Examples of as-needed medications include: antacids, Tylenol, cough drops, topical itch relief, Benadryl, antibiotic ointment, etc.) If Camp Onas does not carry the specific medication to be given to your child we will need to follow the outlined procedure.
All daily/ routine medications* must be in pharmacy-prepared blister-packs/ pill packs. We will no longer use or accept medications in “Days-of-the-Week” pillboxes or other non-pharmacy dosage containers, nor will we accept entire pill bottles.
What do I need to do?
Bring all medications* to camp in a pharmacy-prepared blister pack or pill pack.
Option A: (Use the pharmacy we’re working with)
Horsham Pharmacy: (www.horshamrx.com) is local, affordable, and will deliver medications directly to camp. They are also a small, independent business that is easy to work with. They have printable prescription sheets available to make it easy for your doctor/ practitioner to complete. They charge $1/week to package the medications in blister packs, and they accept most insurance plans (to cover the prescriptions), and will sell and package “over the counter” medications at the store price. Their contact information and forms are on our website. They will need your prescription by June 1st and they will deliver your camper’s packs directly to Onas.
Option B: (Use your own pharmacy)
You can work with your own pharmacy to have your camper’s medications dispensed into blister/ pill packs for their time at camp. Most national pharmacies do not charge for the packaging service (it’s a complimentary service they offer with your purchase, and the packaged medications are shipped to you). Most pharmacies will package both prescribed and “over-the-counter” medications together, provided you have a prescription for all of the requested medications.
Non-pill medications, such as inhalers, liquids, injections, and creams may still be brought to camp in their original packaging, provided the original packaging and pharmacy label are attached, and they are accompanied by prescriber’s orders (instructions).
- In PA, only pharmacists and prescribers (not nurses or other healthcare providers) are allowed to dispense medication to smaller containers. Blister and pill packs are “pre-dispensed” by a pharmacist.
- Pill-packs/ blister packs are the industry standard used in schools, camps, and other institutional settings. They help healthcare give medications to the correct person, at the correct time, in the correct amount, and according to prescriber’s instructions.
Other Questions and Answers:
What is the difference between a prescription and prescriber’s orders, do you really need both?
The prescription is for the pharmacist to fill the medication, the orders are the prescriber’s instruction to healthcare staff (like nurses) to administer the medication. We need the order to give it, you need the prescription to give to the pharmacist, so yes, we really do need both.
Why can’t I just send the whole bottle of pills instead of getting special packaging?
Managing all camper and staff medications in their original bottles without pre-dispensing the doses is not possible for us, and it would cause campers to miss out on fun activities because medications would take so long to distribute. Individual dose packaging is also safer.
What about non-pill medications?
Inhalers, liquids, creams, injections, etc. may be provided in their original packaging. They must be accompanied by a prescription/ box label and prescriber’s orders.
Can I just pack my camper’s meds/supplements in their belongings to take on their own?
Please don’t. Integrity is one of the key values we hold at Onas, and doing so would be against the rules. Our policy of no medications in the bunks is for the protection of all. We will have a time on the first day of camp where campers are asked to hand-in any items they aren’t permitted to have, if after that time medication is found we will consider early departure from camp. Please don’t put your child in that position.
Have you considered the burden this places on families and busy parents/guardians?
We have. We’ve spent a lot of time finding a way to meet Pennsylvania requirements while limiting the burden on busy families, and this is the best solution we’ve found. If you are struggling to meet these requirements, please reach out ahead of June 1st.
Will you make an exception for me/ my camper? I have a good reason.
We recognize that all situations are different, but we are very unlikely to make exceptions. This policy is in place for legal and safety reasons, both of which we take seriously, but we will listen and attempt to make a plan with you, provided this happens prior to the start of the summer season.