Monday, President Barack Obama named Nancy Fichtner's idea as one of four finalists for the first-ever SAVE — Securing Americans Value and Efficiency — award. Fichtner competed with more than 38,000 other federal employees nationwide.
In an effort to cut government waste, the White House invited all federal employees in October to submit ideas on how government can save money and perform better.
Fichtner was a certified pharmacy technician at the Grand Junction Veterans Administration Medical Center before moving to the VA's fiscal department last summer.
If her idea receives the most votes it will be included in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. Citizens can vote online for their favorite idea at www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2009/12/07/voting-now-open-save-award. Votes will be accepted today and Thursday until 10 p.m.
Fichtner's idea would allow a hospital patient to take the unused portions of medications such as ointments, inhalers, eye drops, and other bulk items home with them after discharge as opposed to the medicines being thrown away, as they are now — a policy typical in the VA system, said Grand Junction's VA spokesman Paul Sweeney.
Patients currently are not allowed to take medicines home after they've been discharged because they do not have adequate labeling instructions. Two separate labeling systems are currently in place for inpatient and outpatient prescription use. Fichtner's idea of adding a barcode would allow one label to safely suffice for both in-hospital and at-home use.
“The idea came to life in my head and I had to push forward with it because it was such a good idea,” Fichtner said.
Fichtner had already worked with the National Association of Government Employees to turn the concept into a working idea before the SAVE program was launched.
Fichtner and her VA colleagues hope Grand Junction residents will vote for Fichtner's idea.
If it wins, Fischtner will go to Washington, D.C. where she will meet the president.