In just a matter of months, the spread of COVID-19 has reached pandemic levels. In addition, to the spread of the pandemic, the United States had become the new epicenter of the novel crisis. As a result, states have ordered that citizens social distance and even stay home in order to regress the spread of the virus.
In the midst of all this chaos it is important to keep in mind that while some people are refraining from getting sick from the virus, others with pre-existing health conditions have been battling other illnesses that require continued treatment and medication. Therefore, pharmacies are stepping up in a major way to help patients and communities continue to have access to necessary medications and information, as individuals avoid hospitals and doctors’ offices.
As cities and states order all non-essential businesses to close their doors and individuals to stay home and social distance, pharmacies are offering delivery and curb-side pickup services to help their patients and protect their staff. As much as patient care is important to pharmacies, the safety of their staff is equally important. According to Pharmacy Times, Travis Wolff, PharmD, owner of Med-World Pharmacy in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, said “We have timers set and signature logs, requiring us each to wash our hands for 20 seconds once per hour, as well as disinfect patient care workspaces. If [there is] no visible sickness, we are disinfecting with Lysol/bleach/regular protocol stuff, but if [someone is] visibly sick or [there is] reported exposure to a patent, we clean with a viral germicidal agent with known antiviral activity (currently using Citrus II)”.
According to the Pharmacy Times, the Pharmacist Moms Group, the largest group of female pharmacists in the United States, has published guidelines for pharmacists working in community pharmacies. These guidelines cover operations, personnel, recommendations for patients, end-of-workday procedures, additional tips, and national resources. The guidelines ask that pharmacy staff members take the necessary measures such as, “washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching the face, and wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks if available.” According to Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, chief academic officer at the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs and the founder of Pharmacist Moms Group, “Pharmacist Moms wanted to help prepare pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who may be exposed and provide them with proper support. We need to be proactive as pharmacists to protect ourselves.”
As people all over the world begin to adjust to the new normal of working from home, virtual meetings and social distancing, pharmacies are finding ways to function and even innovate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pharmacies have shown exceptional resiliency by maintaining inventories and implementing cautious cleaning and safety protocols to not let their patients down in the midst of the pandemic. They have provided high level care to patients, while taking the necessary measures to keep everyone involved safe.