Pharmacy U

COVID-19. Pharmacists on the frontlines. Chris Juozaitis – “I applaud every pharmacy in Canada for being there for our communities.”


by Chris Juozaitis, BSc Pharm, RPh, CGP



What have we learned over the last two months about the pharmacist’s role in our community?


In our community, the pharmacy for the first 2-1/2 to 3 weeks of the lockdown was the only real link that our community had to healthcare providers other than the emergency room of our local hospital.


Patients who had already scheduled doctors’ appointments for refills of chronic prescriptions were told to contact the pharmacies and they would be looked after. This means, which all of us know, pharmacists had to evaluate the efficacy and safety of all refill prescriptions and make professional decisions on whether to refill a prescription. In our pharmacy, we documented all such encounters to make sure we covered our behinds and reduced liability. This meant each prescription took twice as long to complete!


The response from our local community was overwhelmingly positive – and grateful. When we explained the 30-day maximum, we had very few complaints. It seems those who complained the most were the ones who could well afford the couple of extra dispensing fees.


What else was abundantly clear in the last two months was the lack of support from our provincial and Canadian pharmaceutical associations. Frankly, I’m quite tired of us pharmacists rolling over and taking whatever decision comes with a “well, that was the best thing that we could negotiate for pharmacists.”


There was no universal response supporting pharmacists during these times without the bland and middle-of-the-road response that the public heard. CBC vilified pharmacists on national TV with no response whatsoever from our associations. The one young Pharm-D wrote a beautifully crafted and articulate response. That response should have come from our provincial and national associations.


The other issue that we see time and time again is when a pharmacy is portrayed in the media all that is shown is someone counting pills. For goodness sake, people do not let a TV crew into your pharmacy if that’s all they’re going to do. That does more harm to the profession than good.


Those are the immediate thoughts that come to mind. I applaud every pharmacy in Canada for being there for our communities. We put our staff and ourselves at risk for the better good. I hope in the future that the pharmacist’s role in delivering better healthcare to our community is recognized and reimbursed accordingly.


Chris Juozaitis is the chief clinician at AdhereRx Inc., and has been co-owner/ pharmacy manager of Howe Sound Pharmacy for 30 years.