Our status quo is shifting. In a matter of weeks, the novel coronavirus has changed our entire way of life. Schools and offices have shut down. Businesses are trying to find ways that their employees can work from home. Restaurants are either shifting to pickup and delivery only or shutting their doors entirely. As a result, many employed in the service industry have suddenly found themselves out of a job. Events, concerts, conventions, and almost all forms of public gatherings have been cancelled. Phrases like “social distancing” — not even heard of a few weeks ago — have made their way into our cultural vernacular. While we wait for an end to COVID-19, we stay in our homes and hope for the best.
But your patients still need their medications. And you still have bills to pay.
So how can you continue taking care of your patients when they’re being advised to not even leave their homes?
What Pharmacists Can Do to Help Their Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As a pharmacist, your entire business is built on serving your community. And that doesn’t stop when the community can’t come to you anymore. So how can you help your patients when they can’t make it to your store? You bring the store to them, of course.
Ramp Up Your Pharmacy’s Delivery Program
Most pharmacies offer a prescription delivery program. (If yours doesn’t, now is the time to start.) Make sure your patients know about it, and do what you can to make it more efficient. Your pharmacy’s delivery program might be the only way some people can get their medications for a while. With that in mind, it might also be your most stable source of income during this time. Make sure your recurring patients are on a med sync program so that they can get all their prescriptions for the month in one delivery.
Fill in the Gaps with Phone Check-Ins for At-Risk Patients
Be sure to reach out to your elderly and immunocompromised patients during this time. You’re accustomed to calling them when their prescriptions are ready, but adding an extra thirty seconds to that call could make their day. Check to see if there is anything they need from your store and offer to deliver it with their medications. While many have family and friends looking out for them, that isn’t true for everyone. You can be their ray of sunshine on gloomy, dismal days.
Also, when you or your delivery driver make the deliveries, be sure to follow all the proper safety protocols. Wash and sanitize your hands before and after going to the door, and don’t linger. Honestly, wearing a pair of latex gloves while handling their delivery wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Stay Informed & Stay Alert
In times like these, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. Some people will devour any and every news story about the virus, buying into the hysteria, and emptying the shelves at their local grocery store. Other people don’t understand all the hype and continue to go about their daily lives while getting upset that many of their favorite places are closed. The proper response is somewhere in the middle, and you can help with that.
As a member of the community who people often look to for advice, you owe it to them and to yourself to learn as much as possible. Read up on the origins of the new coronavirus and COVID-19. Learn how it spreads and what safeguards can be put in place to keep from becoming infected. Research which medications are safe to take while infected and which should be avoided. The people in your community are going to ask you questions about what they should do. They trust you. The best thing you can do is give them the most honest, informed answers you can. To that end, here is a list of resources that are continuously updated with new information:
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC.gov
- COVID-19: Information for Healthcare Professionals | CDC.gov
- Coronavirus | World Health Organization
We would also recommend following both the CDC and World Health Organization on Twitter, where you can receive the latest news and information in real time: @CDCgov and @WHO, respectively.
This is a trying time for everyone. Some people are attempting to adapt to a new way of life, while others are trying to figure out how they’re even going to make ends meet. In times like these, service takes on a whole new meaning. We know your patients will appreciate any way you help them while COVID-19 continues to disrupt all our lives.