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Guidelines for Pharmacists in Community Pharmacy

COVID-19 Pharmacist Moms Group Special Task Force

TASK FORCE COMMITTEE

  • Hillary Blackburn, PharmD, MBA 
  • Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
  • Brooke Griffin, PharmD, BCACP
  • Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, CDE, FAPhA
  • Bhavana Mutha, RPh, BCMAS
  • Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS 

TASK FORCE GUIDELINES

Background

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are front-line access points for patients in the medication use process. They calmly fulfill their roles optimizing medications at every juncture of the health care journey; yet, in times of an unprecedented medical crisis, pharmacists also need to care for themselves and their teams. Their vitality is crucial in order to keep providing high-quality direct patient care to their beloved communities. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Report, the public is most likely to trust health care professionals and authorities — like doctors and hospitals and the World Health Organization (WHO) — to handle the virus effectively, followed by employers. Pharmacists are in a great position as one of the most trusted and accessible healthcare professionals to help educate patients about coronavirus. Staying up-to-date with CDC and WHO guidelines are imperative to provide the most accurate drug information to patients and other healthcare professionals.

Guidance

The Pharmacist Moms Group put together a multi-stakeholder Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) task force, including community, health-system, industry, academia, and associations to create a guidance document for pharmacists who are providing direct patient care in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following measures are intended to protect the pharmacy team and their immediate families from spreading COVID-19.

The following are recommendations of the task force:  

  • Operations: 
      1. It is highly recommended to temporarily halt in-person pharmacy transactions if possible. Limiting contact to drive-through, delivery, or curbside service, if available, is also highly recommended. 
      2. For in-person pharmacy interactions, it is best to maintain at least a 6-foot distance with patients, when possible.
      3. Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your face. (https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html)
      4. If available, use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and a mask (any protection is better than no protection).
      5. Disinfect all surfaces frequently including door handles, credit card machines, and counters.
      6. Keep the door of the pharmacy closed or limit the number of customers in the store at the same time.
      7. Do not touch the keypad at the pharmacy until it is disinfected. Encourage patients to complete their entire keypad transactions themselves. If the patient requests help, wear gloves for any keypad assistance.
      8. Provide proper spacing between patients. Make sure patients are 6 feet apart. 
  • Personnel:
      1. Create back-up personnel plans if team members are not able to come to work.
        1. Be aware of how to contact any floater pools for your company (pharmacists or technicians).
        2. Identify local “PRN” staffing companies in your local area and establish a connection before you need one.
        3. Inquire management about procedures when there are work absences
        4. If possible, consider hiring a temporary part-time cashier.
  • Encourage Patients to: 
      1. Use a drive-through, delivery, or curbside service, if available.
      2. Use their own pen when signing for a pick-up of a prescription. 
      3. Obtain 90-day fills and med sync to avoid additional trips to the pharmacy.
  • At the end of the workday: 
    1. Wash your hands before leaving the pharmacy.
    2. Use hand sanitizer when you enter your vehicle.
    3. When you come home from the pharmacy remove your shoes and change your clothing before entering the main living areas in order to protect your family. Wash and disinfect your clothing and hampers as per CDC guidelines.
    4. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you come home after removing clothing.
  Additional Guidance:
  • Stay informed of the COVID-19 outbreaks and status in your area.
  • Stay up-to-date on the management of COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html
  •  Be flexible with other pharmacies who are low in supplies and with patients who are requesting transfers.
  • Be aware of other local pharmacy’s actions (change in hours, precautions, etc).
  • Create an emergency contact list for who needs to be reached if the pharmacy is exposed that includes the state board of pharmacy.
  • Communicate with your pharmacy team and patients about any updates – do not assume they are aware as recommendations are changing rapidly.
  • Help your pharmacy team and patients understand their upper respiratory symptoms. Fever, cough and difficulty breathing should require them to stay at home.
  • Create a list of back-up child care and reach out to them before you need it. 
  • Think about your own wellness. What does that mean to you? Now is the time to ask for support from friends and family. Enlist the help of businesses that could supply meals and groceries. Outsource tasks that would cause additional stress (yard work, house maintenance, dog-walking). Make sure to take breaks at work to eat, try to get enough sleep, and exercise when you can.
National Resources
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest federal disaster loans up to $2 million to manage revenue loss and expenses in states that have declared a state of emergency. https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19
  • WiFi. Some companies have announced that they will offer free WiFi services to help cope with education, work, and health needs. Using a search engine, search “Free WiFi COVID-19” for companies in your area. https://www.everyoneon.org/find-offers

Other Resources (variable by state): http://www.211.org/services/covid19

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