In the past few weeks, life has drastically changed for Americans across the country. States like California and New York have called for their communities to shelter-in-place, while other states are encouraging social distancing. Although each state is considering its own plan, they all have one goal in common -- to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
In the middle of such an unprecedented time, there is a vibrant community that is doing its part to slow the spread of the virus while maintaining patients’ health -- independent pharmacy. Independent pharmacies are on the front lines of this pandemic. Many pharmacies are working extended hours, tirelessly meeting the needs of patients who want to stockpile medications and “panic shoppers” clearing out supplies such as flu medicine, hand sanitizers and medical grade masks.
This week, RxSafe would like to highlight some community pharmacies that have implemented innovative ideas to help keep their patients safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Minimizing Risk with Free Delivery
In North Carolina, a community pharmacy is taking social distancing to the next level. Brisson Drugs, an independent pharmacy, is offering free delivery to their patients. Many patients taking advantage of the free delivery service are elderly patients, who are at high risk if they get COVID-19. Delivering prescriptions allows Brisson Drugs’ most vulnerable patients the opportunity to minimize their interaction and practice self-quarantine.
When delivering prescriptions, Brisson Drugs does not have direct interactions with the customer. Instead the delivery driver will knock on the door, and place their prescriptions directly in front of the door, and walk to their delivery car. The delivery driver will then wait until they have visual confirmation that their patient picked up their prescription before driving away. With this method, Brisson Drugs’ patients receive their medications without the risk of interacting with other people. The pharmacy owner, Joe Williams, also invented a simple but ingenious method of delivering prescriptions to patients, without a drive-thru. Watch the video below.
Video Source: ABC11 News
In South Carolina, Riley's Drug & Vital Care is also taking steps to minimize the spread of COVID-19 using a drive-thru. Roberta Vining, pharmacists & owner, wants to ensure that every patient receives all their medications without any worry. Along with ordering additional medications to keep up with demand, Riley’s Drug & Vital Care will be moving patients onto its PakMyMeds program. With the help of the RapidPakRx, patients’ prescriptions will be sorted and packed into multi-dose pouches. With PakMyMeds, the pouches will contain all the medications that a patient needs for a month, limiting the number of visits to the pharmacy and decreasing their risk of exposure.
Video Source: Rachel Vining, Facebook Page
Social Distancing = Drive-Thru & Curbside Pickup
In Oklahoma, Osborn Drugs is preventing potential infection by limiting social interactions by offering drive-thru and a new curbside pickup option. With the health of patients as a top priority, Osborn Drugs made the decision to close its lobby. Instead, patients have two options: use the drive-thru or park in a designated spot where a staff member will bring the prescription to the car. Both of these options limit the interactions that patients experience when picking up their prescriptions.
Not only does this protect the health of the most vulnerable patients, but it provides the convenience of getting prescriptions quickly. Additionally, patients still have the opportunity to interact with the pharmacists and to get any of their questions answered. Both patients and pharmacy staff limit their exposure during their interaction, which aligns with social distancing efforts.
Homemade Hand Sanitizer
Across the US, small pharmacy owners are creating their own hand sanitizer that meets FDA standards. Hand sanitizer is sold out across the nation, and even large retail chains do not seem to have enough in stock to meet demand.
In Connecticut, English Apothecary pharmacy began creating a "home grown” hand sanitizer to meet patient demand. Also, the homemade mix ensures that pharmacy staff will have enough on hand to help them prevent the spread of germs in the workplace. Creative pharmacies across different states are joining the effort, and making hand sanitizer more available for their communities. In more rural areas, pharmacies that sell hand sanitizer may be the only location that provides their communities preventive products.
Sweetgrass Pharmacy and Compounding, located in South Carolina, is also creating homemade hand sanitizer for their community. With demand for hand sanitizer continuing to grow, staff at Sweetgrass Pharmacy and Compounding are having to search for high-quality plastic containers to fill and meet demand. The pharmacy has experienced such positive responses from their patients, that owner Cynthia Feldman is focused on finding ingredients to maintain their homemade supply.
A Nationwide Effort
During uncertain times, leaders often take initiative to help their community. At RxSafe, we want to let the pharmacy community know that we see their efforts and appreciate their commitment to providing an essential service to the community. Without community pharmacies, many people would not receive the medications necessary to keep them in good health during this pandemic. Pharmacists are constantly creating new ways to ensure that they are protecting staff members, while making sure that patients receive their prescriptions without the fear of being exposed to COVID-19.
“RxSafe is proud to support independent pharmacies at the front line of this pandemic. The commitment of our nation's pharmacists is unwavering. We’ve always taken pride in our ‘Made in the USA’ label, and it is truly inspirational to see the American spirit in action during times of need,” says William Holmes, CEO of RxSafe.
We want to continue celebrating pharmacies that are making a positive difference in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please use the “Comments” section below to let us know how pharmacies are serving patients in innovative ways in your community, so that RxSafe can continue to share positive success stories and ideas with our independent pharmacy community!