As patients lie sick in hospital beds, unable to eat on their own, the nutrition that drips from their IV bags is critical. It is a custom-made concoction saving their lives.
After being wheeled out of surgery or after enduring unthinkable trauma, patients inside those hospital rooms are given medicine to save their lives.
And down on the ground floor of IU Health Methodist Hospital is the man overseeing it all — Mark Barricklow, pharmacy manager at IU Health. He leads about 90 inpatient pharmacists, both at Methodist and University hospitals, processing about 6,500 patient orders each day.
It’s a role he does with compassion and competence. It’s a role directing a department that often goes unnoticed, working quietly behind the scenes, but one that is crucial.
“What we do,” Barricklow says, “is part of making these patients healthy again.”
It was nearly 31 years ago when Barricklow first came to Methodist as a technician. He was a pharmacy student at Butler University and had dreams to be a drug rep for one of those big pharmaceutical companies.
But when he graduated from Butler in 1989, he interviewed for some of those rep positions. They weren’t exactly how he’d envisioned his career would be.
So Barricklow went to pharmacy leaders at Methodist and said: “I think I want to work here full time.” The hospital gladly scooped him up as an inpatient pharmacist. And he never left.
“There always is some new challenge. We have the sickest patients and smartest physicians and smartest staff and smartest pharmacists,” he says. “And the hospital is always on the cutting edge.”
Barricklow worked in many areas of the hospital, including the IV room, where he stayed for nearly eight years. He then took a coordinator position. And when the pharmacy management role opened up, hospital leaders approached him to fill the post.
He is modest, but Barricklow has many accomplishments, including being known as an international expert in total parenteral nutrition (TPN).
TPN is IV nutrition — bypassing the digestive system and dripping a nutrient solution directly into a vein — that feeds patients who can’t eat.
Barricklow helped to consolidate that process for all of IU Health hospitals (except for Ball Memorial) in 2003, the first health system in the nation to do so.
Just down the hall from Barricklow’s office more than 75 bags of TPN are filled each day by six pharmacists.
Each bag is made up of the prescribed dose of nutrients for the patient. And each is different depending on the patient need. It’s a formula that may consist of carbohydrates, lipids, electrolytes, glucose, salts, amino acids as well as added vitamins and dietary minerals.
Barricklow will be in Chicago Friday to speak about TPN to medical and pharmaceutical professionals from all over the world — China, the United Kingdom and Canada.
Yet, Barricklow is quick to divert the attention away from him.
“It’s all about the people we have. That’s really our strongest asset,” he says. “We have a really great team with a wide range of skills. And they come here every day and do great things.”
More With Barricklow
Personal: He is the father of a high school senior, Carter, and lives in Fishers.
Outside of IU Health: He enjoys cooking and theater. He can make a mean steak, medium rare, and he travels to New York a few times a year for theater. He recently saw “Hamilton” in Chicago.
Why pharmacy? “I didn’t want to go to medical school, but I wanted to do something in the medical field. I thought that pharmacy sounded good.”
Advice: “Find your niche. Find something you can be an expert at. Have something you own.”
— By Dana Benbow, Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Benbow via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @danabenbow.