How long-term-care pharmacies have adjusted to provide medications to those most impacted by COVID19

First Reactions to a Changing World

Many long-term pharmacies, including Heartland Pharmacy, have chosen to implement specific preventative measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. For example, while handling medication, gloves are worn; there are no returns, and med cycles and delivery schedules are being moved up. Additionally, the exchange of medication happens outside of facilities, and drivers sign with “COVID-19” in order to avoid sharing pens. All medications are delivered in non-returnable containers.

However, medication inventory is still an ever-evolving concern. There are prescription drug shortages, supply shortages, OTC medication shortages, and this was before COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin have been limited in purchase quantities. But, inventory of inhalers, insulin, and life-saving medications have increased. There has also been an increase in usage of Vitamin C and Tylenol.

Employees have also been part of the COVID-19 prevention measures. Long-term pharmacy employees, including Heartland’s, have:

  • Temperatures taken
  • Quarantined
  • Written thank you notes for acts of service
  • Adjusted schedules to protect exposure

Caring for Residents That Have Been Exposed to COVID19

While positive cases have been confirmed among residents in our communities, meaning many have been exposed, it’s important to show as much support as possible to those exposed and those in long-term care communities. With the increase in hospice and more sub-acute residents, many pharmacies, including Heartland, have focused on getting medication out faster, as well as better follow up and turnaround times.

Recent studies reveal that drug therapies haven’t changed in response to COVID-19, nor are there any medications specifically indicated for treatment of coronavirus infection at this point. It should also be noted that most, if not all, insurance companies are allowing for more exceptions due to the COVID-19 situation. If needed there are overrides and approval codes for early refills or missing medications.

Heartland Heroes

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Heartland Pharmacy has implemented a specific support program called Heartland Heroes to show support and ask others to show support to staff that are on the front lines. Heartland has made sure to have plenty of snacks, pizza parties, and of course PPE for their heroes. Educating staff with webinars, forums and news is ongoing— and the use of technology has also increased by using email and phone to send uplifting videos and voice memos.

The Future of Long-Term-Care – The New Normal?

Through this process, many long-term pharmacies have learned how to better adapt, communicate more effectively and meaningfully, and have learned what is truly important in our community. Because of the current business climate, long-term pharmacies will be better prepared for crisis situations and have more PPE on hand in the future. Even minor illnesses will be taken more seriously. In a year, there’s hope that things will be back to the way they were. In the meantime, continuing to enforce more hands-free delivery, more use of technology and Telemed will be paramount. As a society, we have learned that we are not immune to life’s challenges and difficulties.

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