Ask Your Pharmacist

December 3, 2020
Q:

I have been advised by Public Health officials to self-isolate for the next 14 days. What options do I have to get my medications and access pharmacy services?

A:

Thank you following the precautions put in place by Public Health to keep us safe. I found a video on the NB Department of Health COVID-19 website about self-isolation you may want to check out: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/covid-19/self_isolation.html.

Your question is relevant given that New Brunswick’s recovery plan for COVID-19 is now at level Orange in the Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton zones. Pharmacists are frontline health care workers, and their services are essential to the health and well-being of New Brunswickers. Pharmacies across New Brunswick have stayed open and accessible to serve patients throughout all stages of the pandemic. In some instances, in some communities, pharmacists have been the only health care professionals readily accessible in person to the public for the duration of the pandemic. We take this privilege seriously, and you can rely on the fact that we will continue to be available to you throughout the stages of recovery, including, if needed, immunization against COVID-19.

You can still get your regular medication refills despite being on self-isolation. Contact your community pharmacy to work out a plan that is best for you. Most pharmacies have delivery services. You can arrange to have your prescriptions dropped off at your door. The delivery attendant will confirm that your medication is received. There will either be no direct contact between staff and yourself or minimal contact with appropriate personal protective equipment worn by staff.

New prescriptions can be faxed or e-mailed using Prescribe IT technology to your pharmacy.  Counselling on your new medication can occur over the phone with your pharmacist. The pandemic and the ongoing influenza season mean the pharmacy is an exceptionally busy place. If you are on continuing medication therapy, please allow extra time for your prescription refill. Call ahead two to three days prior to running out of your medication. Many pharmacies also have automated phone refill systems or online refill systems. Please use them.

We must ensure physical distancing measures are maintained in the pharmacy in order to keep you, and us, safe. Curbside pick-up is available at most pharmacies. It is also an option to wait in your vehicle while your prescription is being prepared. When it is ready, it can be brought to your car, or you can be contacted to come in when it is ready by phone or by using a buzzer system. Payments can be made using wireless debit, e-transfers, or credit card, depending on your particular pharmacy.

Pharmacists are able to assess less serious medical conditions or minor ailments (i.e. urinary tract infections) and where appropriate, to prescribe over-the-counter or prescription medications. A complete list of minor ailments is available at: https://nbpharma.ca/minor-ailment-assessments.

New Brunswick pharmacists are excited by the tone set in the recent New Brunswick Speech from the Throne. We are pleased to be able to provide services to New Brunswickers that otherwise may not have been accessible during the pandemic. These services are not reimbursed by the provincial Medicare system and in order for them to remain sustainable, it is necessary for us to work with the provincial government to make this happen.

Personally, I must admit that these are very challenging and mentally draining times. I think it’s fair to say we are all feeling it. We, pharmacists, need your help. 

You can help us by staying home if you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19. If you have any question about your symptoms visit the COVID-19 Self-assessment tool: https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/ocmoh/cdc/content/respiratory_diseases/coronavirus.html or call your pharmacist to advise you. If you are coming into the pharmacy, you must wash your hands every time. You must wear an appropriate mask and keep it on while you interact with us.

We ask for your kindness and your patience. Pharmacists and pharmacy teams are on the frontlines, and we have the same worries and anxieties as you. We have families at home that we do not want to get sick. We want to stay healthy so that we can stay open to continue to serve you.  

Dr. Kevin Duplisea (PharmD BSc. Pharm, BSc. ACPR) is a pharmacist at Sharp’s Corner Drugstore in Sussex, New Brunswick. His opinions expressed in this newspaper are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Send your questions to AskYourNBPharmacist@gmail.com.