October 10, 2020
As we continue to adapt to a new normal that is life during the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re all making and adjusting to change. Your Co-op Pharmacy is too. There have been many changes over the last weeks and months to help keep Co-op pharmacists, staff and most importantly our patients safe from the virus—and in overall good health.
Virtual Consultations at Calgary Co-op
Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes and need guidance, or you’re looking for info on vaccinations, one on one consultations have always been an important way for you to connect with your Co-op Pharmacist for advice. That same level of care is still in place, it’s just now happening over the phone and via video link.
“It’s very easy in the sense that the patient doesn't have to register or sign up for anything,” shares Sonal Ejner, Pharmacy Professional Services Manager at Calgary Co-op. “Our patients can request a virtual consultation with us. They’ll be sent an email link and all they have to do is click on it. The link works on any laptop with a webcam and also on a smartphone or a tablet. It’s very important for our patients to know this is a secure platform specifically designed for the exchange of health advice and information. It's completely encrypted and is designed for use by physicians, nurses and pharmacists.”
Using the secure video platform, or over the phone, Co-op Pharmacists will continue to offer advice, and can even prescribe vaccinations and medications for minor ailments, if necessary.
Asymptomatic Covid-19 Testing
Co-op is also offering asymptomatic Covid-19 testing at your local Pharmacy. Patients must book the test in advance using Co-op’s online booking portal.
Influenza Vaccines & Other Vaccinations and Immunizations
This year, flu season overlaps with Covid-19, so it’s especially important for individuals with chronic disease such as diabetes or COPD, seniors and those who are immunocompromised to make sure their vaccinations are up to date. Co-op Pharmacy is offering the same online bookings for annual flu shots too.
“Because flu season is going to be very different this year there's a huge increase in demand for the flu vaccine,” Ejner explains. “Normally what we've done in the past is that an individual comes in for flu vaccine, and then at that point we'll also assess them and provide education about any other vaccines that an adult might need—things like shingles vaccine, HPV or pneumonia. This year, we recommend patients book a consultation in advance, before booking for any vaccines, so we can assess you and provide recommendations, or even prescribe those immunizations before you come in, then you can simply come in for your vaccine minimizing the amount of time spent at the pharmacy.”
Improved Contactless Interactions
Those same online bookings have another purpose: they also serve to take care of documents like consent forms in advance. Because Co-op has reduced as many touch points as possible, there are no pens, papers and clipboards available for patients to fill out health information on site. Now, that information is all collected in advance, via the secure online portal. Aftercare instructions will be available on the website.
When patients arrive for their immunizations, there will be a quick touchless temperature check, COVID-19 screening questionnaire and your Co-op Pharmacist will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE.
Says Ejner, “Our pharmacists have full access to PPE so they will be wearing a gown, a face shield, gloves, and a mask. We will also be asking patients to wear a mask and sanitize their hands with an alcohol-based rub prior to entering the testing or injection room.”
Improved Cleaning and Sanitization
Calgary Co-op, like many healthcare services, has also enhanced cleaning and disinfection measures in the Pharmacy.
“After each patient interaction, we sanitize all touch points; things like the tables or door handles. Plus, we're doing constant cleaning both in the Pharmacy, and around the store too.”
Making Refilling Prescriptions Easier
Patients have always been able to call in to refill a prescription at their local Co-op Pharmacy. Now patients can also text in their refills too, as well as accessing their refill information online using the secure web portal.
Curbside Pickup at Co-op
In our new contact-minimized world, Co-op is also offering curbside pickup for prescriptions too.
“We are really doing all we can to make our environments safe for our customers and our patients. Customers can always reach out to us; by phone, online, using texts and via video conference. We know how important it is to continue to offer the services our patients have come to expect, we’re just doing it in a different way,” Ejner says.
Read more about the online and virtual services such as Virtual Pharmacist Consultations on the Co-op Pharmacy website.
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