Kokomo has its share of fine pharmacies; Marylu and I usually frequent Walgreens because it’s convenient. But there are other attachments. As a Chicago-area boy, I remember accompanying my dad to Walgreens as he tested tubes (in their test machine) in an effort to fix our television. He succeeded. More importantly, I have a romantic association: Marylu was working as a waitress at Walgreens when we started dating!
You see, some Walgreens pharmacies also housed a restaurant! No, not a counter or just a few kiosks! For comparison purposes, the restaurant was probably the size of Martino’s, although arranged like a large dining room. Shortly after we started dating, Walgreen’s spun off its restaurant operations which reopened in malls or independent buildings. This new franchise was called “Wags”. Wags, however, only survived a few years.
When we came to Kokomo, we tended to use Hook’s Pharmacy; it eventually became Revco and Revco became CVS. In my opinion CVS and Walgreens are two great chains. Independent pharmacies (like Herbst, for example) also have a lot to offer and offer unique services not found elsewhere. When the (now defunct) downtown Walgreens opened, we lived less than a block away, so we started doing business there.
Regardless of the name of the business, many pharmacies struggle to retain staff. According to goodrx.com, this shortage is attributed to several factors: “Several pharmacy chains have begun offering large sign-up bonuses to pharmacists, citing difficulties in finding pharmacists to staff their stores. Although this indicates usually a shortage of qualified staff, this may in fact be due to pharmacist burnout amid increased COVID pressure, harsh working conditions, and billing and reimbursement issues.
“Many retail pharmacists have moved on to other roles in independent community pharmacies and social care clinics, hospitals, industries and non-traditional settings. »
Chains like CVS and Walgreens are now closing their pharmacies (often from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.) to give their overworked staff time for lunch. This is just one of many efforts to retain pharmacists and reduce burnout.
Sometimes societies send pharmacists from other places to run their dispensaries; sometimes pharmacies are closed for part of the day because they cannot hire a pharmacist to cover these hours.
Let’s look at some of the stresses that pharmacists are under to better understand this issue.
If you’ve ever had to plead your case for a drug with your insurance company, you can imagine all the hurdles pharmacists have to jump through. This includes sifting through a million choices on automated menus (which may be recorded for quality control) and being told “to listen carefully, because our menu has changed” (whose menu hasn’t changed, duh ?). Wouldn’t it be nice to get to the point immediately? They have to tell us to call 911 in an emergency, tell us about COIVD protocols, etc. As I told my dentist, “I know the drill”.
On the other hand, if it weren’t for cost containment, we’d be paying even more for insurance. It’s a catch 22.
But back to the pharmacists. In the past, if you wanted to get a flu shot, you had to see your doctor or the health department. But eventually pharmacies started offering the service: “The first organized vaccination training for a group of 50 pharmacists was held in Seattle, Washington, in late 1994. In 1996, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA ) created its pharmacy vaccination program. , which the CDC has approved.
Add to that the shingles vaccines and the many COVID vaccines, and you can see that more is expected of today’s pharmacists. We expect more from modern pharmacists than just filling prescriptions.
So be patient with your pharmacy. Closures and delays are not unique to your pharmacy, nor are they signs of incompetent management. Pharmacists must work with great care; their mistakes could cost lives. Their responsibilities are great.
In light of this, I suggest the following tips when heading to the pharmacy: be prepared to wait, avoid complaining, refill your prescriptions early, and remember to say thank you! Help prevent pharmacist burnout – or we’ll be waiting even longer.
Ed Vasicek is a retired pastor and longtime resident of Kokomo who has written for the Tribune since 1999.