Pharmacy technician named Civilian Category I of the Year

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexandria Fulton
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio-- Surprise and excitement were the first things running through Ryan Porterfield’s mind upon learning he had won the 88th Air Base Wing’s Civilian Category I of the Year Award for 2020.

“I was shocked,” he said. “It’s a great honor to receive this award at a base that does so much and to be able to work alongside some amazing people in the pharmacy and the Medical Group.”

Porterfield is a pharmacy technician with the 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron, where he manages Pharmacy Flight systems used in three different locations and the 42 Pyxis, a dispensing unit at the 88th Medical Group that allows nurses to retrieve and administer medications in their clinics.

He also manages the main operating system for outpatient pharmacies, 10 automated filling cabinets, 27 lightway cabinets and a $6.5 million robot system that handles Kittyhawk Pharmacy refills.

Taking on all these responsibilities would not be possible without teammates helping him through it all, Porterfield said.

“The pharmacy is a team that works their tails off day in and day out and usually doesn’t get the credit they deserve,” he said. “The pharmacy has worked together to find new and innovative ways to make sure that we can work as quickly and efficiently as possible while ensuring the safety and happiness of our patients, and I could not do this without them.”

Master Sgt. Michael Fitzell, Pharmacy Flight chief at 88 DTS, says his job is easier having someone like Porterfield on the team.

“He is very reliable, and I know he will get the job done right the first time,” he said. “He is the person behind how our pharmacy runs and functions. His efforts during the pandemic are what set us apart from everyone else.”

Fitzell is honored to have Porterfield win this distinguished award.

“It’s an outstanding achievement and very well deserved,” he said. “I am very proud of his achievements.”

At the beginning of 2020, Porterfield said his primary goal was completing a bachelor’s degree in logistics and supply chain management from Wright State University. But he soon faced competing priorities.

“When the virus hit in March, I worked with the rest of the pharmacy to come up with ideas that would allow us to continue serving our beneficiaries in whatever way possible,” he said.

Porterfield still managed to get his bachelor’s degree and did so with honors, graduating cum laude. He also helped change how the pharmacy operates to deal with COVID-19 restrictions.

In the past year, Porterfield’s individual achievements include:

  • Finalized $2.5 million renovation project for Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s inpatient pharmacy. He coordinated the move of 25 workstations and implemented the Pyxis CII Safe system, which enables better tracking of controlled medications throughout hospital.
  • Supported the Air Force’s 100% drive-up pharmacy concept by creating three triage points utilizing remote queueing that enabled faster patient service. The line served 180,000 vehicles and dispensed more than 349,000 prescriptions.
  • Modified normal prescription activation to meet COVID-19 requirements. He created expedited prescription processing with base clinics, transitioning appointments from face-to-face to virtual. The process dispensed 160,000 medications and was lauded by Air Force Material Command.
  • Repurposed unused computers and installed and upgraded software for a medication-dispensing device. That saved the inpatient pharmacy 120 work hours and averted $10,000 in equipment purchases.
  • Completed bachelor’s degree in logistics and supply chain management with a minor in organization leadership from Wright State, earning cum laude honors.

Being a pharmacy technician is not new for Porterfield. Prior to arriving at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 2018, he served on Air Force active duty for eight years in the same role.

“This job allowed me to continue to serve my country while also staying close to family,” he said.

Porterfield encourages Airmen and civilians to “figure out what it is about your job that you like and try to focus on that.”

“I really enjoy the process-improvement aspect of my job, so even on the tasks that I dislike doing, I try to figure out how I can improve that task and process and make it less painful the next time I have to,” he said.

This Civilian of the Year award means a lot to Porterfield, who praised his teammates for their support and standing beside him through the entire process.

“After all the long hours, all the uncertainty and all the hard work, it was a nice, unexpected ending to a crazy and unique year,” he said.