There’s been a lot of discussion the past few days regarding the spread of the coronavirus and the possibility of it leading to a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians on a national level. Everyone knows how inconvenient the shortages of necessary commodities such as toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizer are, but a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy workers would be have disastrous effects. With the coronavirus spreading so rapidly and now reported in all fifty states, pharmacists have demonstrated over the past several weeks that they are truly on “the frontlines” of the pandemic and that all pharmacy workers are playing a vitally important role in attempting to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Retail community pharmacists and their pharmacy co-workers have all been working long extended hours under stressful conditions and, as everyone knows, they are the most accessible health care workers available to the general public. In most cities, towns and communities across the nation, the pharmacist is the most easily accessible healthcare provider and usually acts as the first “touchpoint” for a patient engaging with the US healthcare system. In fact, over ninety percent of all Americans reportedly live within five miles of a retail community pharmacy. This is especially true in many rural areas of our nation and in communities that experience shortages of doctors and physicians. In those areas in particular, a pharmacist may be the only healthcare provider that is immediately within reach of many patients and their family members. Not only providing medications, prescriptions and medical supplies, pharmacists are being called on to be a source of the latest critical information and to be a support for the general public at large across the country.
The ASHP Says That Pharmacists Should Do More?
Both the ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) and the The California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) called upon the US Federal government and all of the state governments last week to officially recognize pharmacists and their supporting pharmacy staff members as “front-line providers” during the coronavirus pandemic that we are facing. In fact, the ASHP just published their Pharmacy Readiness for Coronavirus Disease
2019 (COVID-19) – Recommendations for State Policymakers. The ASHP stresses that the change must come at the state level, as each state is really autonomous in their actions on this no matter what the US Federal government chooses to do.
Although the ASHP builds a very strong case to allow pharmacists to provide expanded functions, the basis of their recommendations revolve around state lawmakers taking the following five (5) steps to ensure that pharmacists in their areas and communities are empowered to effectively support the prevention and response efforts for outbreaks such as the current coronavirus crises poses (COVID-19):
• That pharmacists are authorized to order and administer immunizations for prevention of infectious diseases.
• That pharmacists are authorized to order point-of-care testing for infectious diseases.
• That pharmacists are authorized to initiate time-sensitive therapies, such as antivirals.
• That pharmacists are reimbursed for direct patient care services related the to prevention and treatment
of infectious diseases.
• Involve pharmacists in emergency response planning and coordination efforts as being designated “front-line providers”.
Doesn’t the Coronavirus Place Pharmacists at Risk?
What the ASHP recommendations really revolve around is that each state’s lawmakers needs to evaluate their state’s laws and emergency plans to make sure that pharmacists practicing in all settings (retail community drugstores, hospitals, clinics, hospice settings, specialty pharmacies, physician offices, and our countries’ uniformed services) are able to effectively support the COVID-19 response and are essentially trained in such practices already. However, many note that while pharmacists and pharmacy workers are doing all of this to ensure that the general public has access to their medications and their necessary medical supplies, they too face the very real dangers of being exposed to COVID-19 infection themselves. Pharmacy employees are designated as “essential workers” and must be protected in order to continue doing their part in this crises!
Now we get the news that a pharmacy technician in the San Diego, California area died several days ago (March 25th of 2020) after contracting the coronavirus. The 25 year old pharmacy tech reportedly had no underlying health conditions or issues. According to the Riverside County health officials, the young man was exposed to COVID-19 and was in self quarantine in La Quinta when he passed away. The 8 deaths reported previously in Riverside County had all been in patients that were older than seventy and who had underlying health conditions or problems before contracting the virus. This shows that the COVID-19 infection can be deadly to anyone, regardless of age and health.
Contact a Pharmacy Staffing Firm and be Prepared
Although step are being undertaken to help ensure the safety of pharmacists and their staffs from exposure to the coronavirus, the fact that numerous pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will come down with the virus is a reality that cannot be overlooked. All pharmacy owners and managers must now rush to have a plan in place if one or more of their pharmacists becomes afflicted with the coronavirus.
Choosing the pharmacy staffing firm that best suits your potential requirements and needs is essential. Choose a firm that’s not too small as to be geographically constrained and has a limited number of available pharmacists that meet your business’s needs. If you own or run a “smaller” pharmacy operation it’s important that the staffing agency you partner with is not too large itself and, therefore, is not service oriented when dealing with a “smaller” client’s immediate needs like yours.
The perfect choice if your pharmacy is located in the Southeast is HCC (Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing). Our pharmacist staffing service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. HCC maintains one of the largest active pools of relief and temporary pharmacists in the nation, allowing us to quickly locate available, qualified and reliable pharmacists during an emergency situation in the following states:
– North Carolina
– South Carolina
Our proprietary online system allows HCC to match your needs with the most qualified available candidates to work temporary relief during emergency times as these. HCC also ensures that our emergency pharmacists comply with all HIPAA requirements and also have and maintain professional liability insurance.
Please also note that HCC can fill all of your staffing needs regarding pharmacy technicians (in Florida only). HCC has been the leading provider of qualified, registered, licensed and professional pharmacy technicians (CPhTs) in Florida since 1989. As with pharmacists, satisfaction with our pharmacy technician staffing is guaranteed!
We strongly urge you to be proactive regarding establishing a relation with us now (this way all required paperwork is completed before an emergency situation actually occurs or, as is the case of the coronavirus we presently face, escalates). Then, when you do actually require an a relief pharmacist, HCC will be ready to meet your needs so that you can relax and rest easy. Call us now at (800) 642-1652 or take a moment and Contact Us Online and an HCC in-house staffing consultant will contact you as soon as possible to discuss all of your staffing needs.