Pharmacy U

COVID-19. Pharmacists on the frontlines. Carlene Oleksyn – “The pressure in pharmacy is immense.”

Carlene big


by Carlene Oleksyn BScPhm



Many of our vulnerable patients have been unaware that they need to stay home as much as possible. Educating them on the reasons to do so as well as enabling them by delivering their medications and being available by telephone to handle their concerns has been our top priority.


We have increased our prescribing services for minor ailments and continuity of care to keep patients out of doctors’ offices who do not have critical issues. Providing prescribing services by phone has been implemented to reduce patient in person encounters.


The pressure in pharmacy is immense.  My staff are obviously concerned about their own health, and as a manager my top priority is keeping them as healthy and safe as possible while we serve patients.  Keeping stress levels reduced and morale positive has been increasingly important. I am sure all pharmacy managers are concerned about whether they can keep their pharmacies functioning if too many staff become ill or have to go into quarantine. This has been an issue for us with so far having one pharmacist self-isolating. The changes to routine and how we interact with patients as well as how we provide service has added stress to daily tasks.


The biggest changes I am observing in my practice are drug shortages and allocation of crucial medications like inhalers and insulin. As well, dealing with patients who are anxious about not having essential medications has added strain to the pharmacy team.


We are spending a lot of time triaging ill patients who cannot get through to the public health triage line to assess whether they need to self-isolate or be tested for COVID-19.


We typically spend a lot of time face to face with patients care planning and following up. We have had to reduce this type of care and are following up with patients more by telephone.


Carlene Oleksyn BScPhm is a pharmacist/consultant with colekPharm Consulting as well as a pharmacy owner and clinical pharmacist at Mint Health + Drugs in Stony Plain, Alberta, focused on patient-centred care and pharmaceutical services.