While a great deal of the country was safe at home, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and other pharmacy support staff were on the front lines, taking care of patients amid the chaos of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
When polled on social media, pharmacists described personally delivering prescriptions, greatly expanding the delivery radius, donating masks to first responders, and bringing food to nurses at hospitals. Pharmacists also discussed the steps taken to keep the pharmacy as clean as possible and create space for social distancing between patients in line and at the register, as well as sealing off the pharmacy when possible.
Toilet Paper for All
Considering the nationwide toilet paper shortage, Nancy Peterson, RPh, owner of Clearwater Pharmacy in Clearwater, Kansas, had a great idea. “We are asking each homebound delivery whether they need toilet paper. Our local grocery store donated 12 packs. Our mayor offered to help deliver if needed. Our police officers offered to deliver, as have several patients. I just love my little town!” she shared.
Keeping It Clean
Lisa Hess and Doug Hess, RPh, own Doug’s Family Pharmacy in Elverson, Pennsylvania. Lisa said, “It is amazing the response we have received. People have been so appreciative of our fight to help keep them safe. We spray the cash drawer with Clorox spray, wipe down their credit cards with Clorox wipes, and avoid passing anything unnecessary back and forth. We require our deliveries to be prepaid with a credit card or put on a store charge. Again, we are keeping both parties as safe as possible. All of our employees have made a pact to self-quarantine to keep each other safe. We are surviving both economically and physically, which makes it so important to have each other’s backs. I’m so impressed with the tolerance and patience of our staff and customers during such a drastic change and trying time.”
Strong Leadership Is Key
Trisha Winroth, PharmD, pharmacy manager at Walgreens in Lowell, Massachusetts, stressed the importance of leadership: “Managing a team during the COVID-19 pandemic is no different from managing them through any situation. If they trust in your leadership, the rest falls into place. I give them all the information I have, and I am available to hear their concerns and answer questions. Making my team feel well taken care of is my main goal. We’ve had homemade snacks, plenty of vitamin C, lots of coffee, and a ton of laughs! For us, laughter is really the best medicine, and it keeps us all going throughout any stressful situation. I’m wearing a shirt that says, ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind.’ I chose it because it’s what we all need through this time. If we all take care of each other and our patients, we’ll come out stronger in the end. Stronger team. Stronger patient relationships. Stronger leaders.”
Going Above and Beyond for Patients
Loretta Boesing, a patient advocate, describes ways she has seen pharmacists go above and beyond during the pandemic. “Pharmacy staff are risking their lives to protect their patients. More pharmacists who were silent about the mistreatment of workers and unsafe conditions are breaking their silence about the prioritization of profits before patient safety.” She commended pharmacists who have found creative ways to take care of patients through telemedicine consultations, setting up curbside pickup, demanding proper personal protective equipment, and making hand sanitizer. “Pharmacists and pharmacy staff are there for their communities during this challenging time, checking in on others because they care,” Boesing said.