WAUKESHA — Citizens and businesses are making adjustments with COVID19 precautions becoming more urgent every day, but some businesses provide services so vital that closing entirely isn’t an option. One of those businesses is pharmacies, and adjustments are being made in the name of safety.
“Many pharmacies have adjusted their hours or have implemented curbside pick up or home delivery of prescriptions to help with social distancing and minimize exposure for patients and pharmacy employees,” said Dr. Melissa Theesfeld, Concordia University Wisconsin associate professor of pharmacy practice and president-elect of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin. “Some pharmacies are also moving to credit-card-only or other online forms of payment so that employees are not handling cash from patients. Patients are encouraged to call their pharmacy or check out the pharmacy’s website so that they are aware of any changes or updated procedures.”
CVS announced Monday the company will award bonuses to employees in stores assisting patients and customers. The company will also provide 25 fully covered days of child or adult dependent care services and expanded sick time to part-time employees for the pandemic’s duration. Employees quarantined due to a known diagnosis or exposure to COVID-19 are put on paid leave of absence.
A shortage of masks has presented a challenge. “Like other health care providers, CVS Health has experienced the effects of the facemask shortage,” said Stephanie Cunha, CVS public relations manager. “We are prioritizing masks for colleagues in areas that have the highest incidences of COVID-19, and are working with suppliers to ship additional masks for the remainder of our stores. In the meantime, colleagues may wear their own masks, if they have them. Additionally, we have shipped hand sanitizer to each store that is exclusively for employee use.” Employees are also allowed to wear gloves at work.
Alex Brown, a spokesman for Walgreens, said the company is in close communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other health organizations, and making adjustments as needed. “We are actively reviewing our policies, procedures and operations to promote the safety and wellbeing of our team members and customers,” said Brown.
Walgreens reduced hours beginning March 18. Stores also ramped up daily cleaning procedures.
Theesfield said if a trip to the pharmacy cannot be avoided, calling first to arrange refills and using the drive-thru window is recommended. “Wait times may be longer than normal as pharmacies adjust to this new environment, so please be patient and know that your pharmacist is working hard to ensure that you have safe and effective medications,” she said.