Coronavirus Health Opinion

One critical group of hospital workers are being overlooked during coronavirus

On the surface, pharmacy seems like one of those professions that you have to know a lot but you don’t have to do a lot. But, when you watch the pharmacists at the Brookhaven CVS hustling on their feet for an entire shift filling prescriptions, giving drug advice, answering phones, dealing with customers,  talking to doctors, ringing up Tasty Kakes and Glamour magazines, explaining co-pays and deductibles, explaining why they can’t fill your prescription yet, and conducting those scavenger hunts to find those crinkly white bags stuffed in bins lined up alphabetically up and down the wall, you have to tip your hat to the grind of a retail pharmacist.

The hospital pharmacist has a different set of challenges. They work in teams, and as with any job, the team is only as good as its weakest link. They are staffed around the clock. They maintain a minimal stock of drugs on hand which are ordered like a Ford factory conducting just-in-time inventory of car parts. There’s the urgent and conflicting orders from doctors requesting meds which aren’t always polite requests, but demands. And what appears to be the biggest issue is management of the pharmacy (and probably the hospital in general) is done by a lot of people with MBAs and only a few, in any, with MDs.

It always seemed the toughest time of the year for a hospital pharmacist is flu season. There never appeared to be enough meds to deal with the mad rush of flu and pneumonia patients, but somehow they always managed to get by.

So, imagine this flu season with its ordinary demands on a hospital pharmacy being extended indefinitely with coronavirus season all across the globe.

I’ve been waiting to hear about the strain COVID-19 is putting on hospital pharmacists and some of that coverage came out in the last couple days as the news outlets are mentioning how the virus is consuming meds at a rate the hospitals cannot keep up with.

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