Pharmacists’ stories of serving during the coronavirus pandemic will never be forgotten
The pharmacy profession, patients, communities, and the nation are watching historical epics being written in real time.
On Friday, March 20, the APhA House of Delegates passed policy urging federal and state government officials, manufacturers, distributors, and health-system administrators to recognize pharmacists and pharmacy personnel as frontline providers—that means making sure they have appropriate personal protective equipment and other resources to protect their personal safety and support their ability to continue to provide patient care.
But with or without this acknowledgment, pharmacists and pharmacy personnel are already on the front lines. In many cases, they’re using improvised solutions to protect themselves and their patients from coronavirus transmission, like placing tables in front of the pharmacy counter to ensure patients and pharmacy staff interact at a safe distance or hanging sheets of clear plastic as improvised sneeze guards. Many are using drive-through and curbside delivery and electronic communications to talk with patients.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have stepped up. The stories of their heroic service will be told forever. They deserve protection, appreciation, and recognition.
They are facing drug shortages and needlessly complicated administrative burdens. They will be called to volunteer to conduct tests for COVID-19, if our decision makers know what’s best for the country. They will educate patients and communities as complicated and often contradictory information becomes available. At some point—we hope soon—they will be a major part of massive treatment and immunization efforts. These will be incredibly valuable to our public health, yet we’ve got to keep these frontline heroes safe, too!
I want to thank the pharmacy stakeholders who sent more than 10,000 letters to their Senators and Members of Congress calling for the inclusion of Medicare Part B coverage of pharmacists’ services in the coronavirus legislative packages under consideration. If you haven’t yet, send yours by visiting https://apha.us/CongressActNow. That sends a strong message that patients and communities need pharmacists, pandemic or not.
But your stories mean more than any policy statement or letter to the government. Your stories about what pharmacists did, could have done, and should have done in the face of a worldwide crisis without existing barriers are the most persuasive argument possible, and we want to tell your story—share your stories in the comments section below!
Now more than ever, communities are recognizing the value of pharmacists and the importance of sustaining these valuable resources—local care versus no access to care!