COVID-19 DIDN'T CURE DIABETES
No matter where you look, television, internet, newspapers all are full of COVID. It seems that’s all they cover. Meanwhile, we still have to care for patients that have DM, HTN, CAD, CHF, OUD, and every other chronic condition that has a bunch of letters as an acronym.
Those folks conditions and their health have seemingly been pushed aside by COVID. While the Nation rightfully focuses on fighting this pandemic, who is caring for the patients with underlying chronic conditions?
Many of these patients have seen PCP visits cancelled, postponed, or switched to telemedicine visits. Many physician practices, especially in rural areas, have had to reduce staff, hours and services during this COVID era. Patients are encouraged or mandated to shelter in place to avoid COVID. This is a perfect storm for patients with chronic diseases. If one cannot get to a PCP appointment, cannot leave home, and is encouraged to have greatly reduced contact with other people, it opens a Pandora’s box of potential problems.
Who is contacting these people? Who is checking up on their healthcare? Who is looking out for their medication adherence? Is anyone asking this patient how they’re doing, if they have food, have any urgent needs that are being unmet?
In many cases, the answer is the Community Pharmacy. As community pharmacists we have a long-term relationship with our patients. Those patients with chronic diseases have 35 or more interactions with their community pharmacy. Community pharmacists are in a unique position to positively affect the healthcare of our patients during this time.
Our practices have increased our patient outreach. We have hundreds if patients we regularly contact each month to check on well being. During this time, we have not only increased our outreach efforts by hundreds of patients, we have started asking COVID salient questions.
We’re addressing food insecurities and engaging these patients in conversations to address their current concerns surrounding everything from COVID to Social Determinants of Health.
The name says it: Community Pharmacist. We’re healthcare providers in the community. We live in the same town as our patients. We share their concerns, we know the local resources, we can help them. Something PBM owned mail order cannot do. Even if a mail order pharmacy calls their service “home delivery”, it’s no match for the local personal care provided by a community pharmacist.
No, COVID does not cure diabetes. Thankfully, many patients have access to a local community pharmacist to provide care.
Thank you, community pharmacists, for stepping up your game, filling the void, watching over the health of your patients while we traverse this minefield that is COVID-19.
Richard Logan, Jr. PharmD
Richard Logan, Jr. PharmD, community pharmacist, community pharmacy advocate, and ESPhA founding member