Pandemic lets pharmacy techs step up
With all of their responsibilities, pharmacy technicians have been particularly instrumental in helping patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Towncrest Pharmacy in Iowa City, Iowa, student pharmacy technicians are performing curbside COVID-19 testing decked out in personal protective equipment, while regular pharmacy technicians are managing dispensing functions.
“With this surge of COVID-19, they are doing 20 to 25 tests a day. That frees up our pharmacists, too,” said Randy McDonough, Towncrest Pharmacy co-owner and director of clinical services.
Nancy Lyons, vice president and chief pharmacist at Health Mart, said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many technicians are involved in setting up and maintaining new curbside pickup options for their patients, assisting with the higher demand for home deliveries and managing the enhanced cleaning practices needed. “We also had technicians assisting with COVID-19 test collections as part of Health Mart’s partnership with eTrue North in the Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 testing program,” she said.
Richard Logan, owner of L&S Pharmacy in Charleston, Mo., said that COVID-19 recently began to hit the rural area hard, and one of his technicians, a certified community health worker, saw that patients were facing challenges accessing groceries, which led to patient outreach. “We reached out to 140 patients over the phone just to check on them to make sure they had plenty to eat, to find out if they had trouble getting to the grocery stores, or if they lost their job due to COVID, if they needed Meals on Wheels or a food bank,” Logan said. “That resulted in seven high-quality referrals to agencies just from that one technician who saw that as a COVID issue.”
At Hy-Vee, COVID-19 has led to new shifts in the way pharmacies operate and serve their patients, which has added responsibilities for both Hy-Vee’s technicians and pharmacists.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our technicians have become even more integral to our operations, taking on added responsibilities to meet the needs of patients,” said Aaron
Wiese, Hy-Vee’s senior vice president and chief health officer. “Our technicians were key during times when we were seeing unprecedented demand in prescriptions earlier this year, and have continued to play an important role in ensuring our pharmacies are following a strict cleaning and sanitization regimen to provide a safe and clean space for our patients