As the reality of the pandemic swept across the country, millions of Americans sheltered in place and wondered how they could help combat the crisis.
For essential workers, particularly frontline healthcare providers, their mission was clear. They sprang into action immediately. The homebound were protected and supported by these selfless individuals who donned masks and gloves and worked tirelessly to rise to the challenge facing them.
Doctors and nurses were rightly lauded for their courageous efforts and serenaded by nightly rounds of applause from grateful towns and cities. But another essential component of our healthcare community has gone unsung for too long: pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy staff.
The First Lines of Defense
Pharmacies were out front just as quickly, and when patients feared visiting hospitals swamped with COVID patients, it was the pharmacies that came to the rescue, helping them navigate the uncertainty and anxiety of the pandemic — and that was on top of doing their usual amazing job of providing exceptional care for all the other conditions.
Their expertise and dedication was in greater demand than perhaps any time in recent history. Pharmacies helped vulnerable populations maintain access to life-saving medications, supplies, and even food.
It was a demanding undertaking to say the least. There was no playbook for an event of this magnitude, and even medical authorities at the highest levels were scrambling to develop a response to an unprecedented threat. It was unclear just what was safe, how the disease spread, and what precautions were needed.
Yet, like the heroes that they are, pharmacy workers across the country, fearing not for their own safety but for the health and wellness of the communities they serve, dove into the fray without hesitation.
A Good Neighbor Is There When You Need Them — No Matter What!
Good Neighbor Pharmacy has long been known as the national network of independent pharmacies that celebrates the distinctive character of each of its members. Each is “Locally owned. Locally loved.”
This crisis affected every region of the country differently. Even within states, the issues and scope of the problem differed wildly. Every Good Neighbor Pharmacy speedily put into place emergency procedures tailored to their community, acting fearlessly to take charge of an out of control situation.
Steve Hoffart, PharmD, owner of Magnolia Pharmacy in Magnolia, Texas, quickly realized that his pharmacy was already equipped and licensed to compound badly needed sanitizer products. He was among the first independent pharmacies anywhere to supply sanitizer to first responders.
All the while, his pharmacy was implementing new curbside pickup programs and physical changes to protect his staff. Throughout the pandemic, Steve has made regular appearances on Facebook Live to dole out helpful information to his community and provide updates on the fight against COVID.
Brewster Family Pharmacy
In Brewster, Ohio, the Brewster Family Pharmacy joined an initiative led by UnitedHealthcare, in collaboration with the Ohio Pharmacists Association, to expand access to care for patients left behind by a healthcare system that was straining to its breaking point.
“Fearing not for their own safety but for the health and wellness of the communities they serve, dove into the fray without hesitation.”
At Lily’s Pharmacy in Johns Creek, Georgia, they wasted no time expanding the radius of their free same-day delivery to get critical healthcare products to patients trapped at home. Without complaint or reluctance, they took on the mantle of healthcare leadership in their region.
To lift the spirits of their community, Lily’s Pharmacy appealed on Instagram and Facebook for customers receiving home deliveries to leave encouraging notes that were passed along to their elderly and isolated neighbors. Over 2,000 home cards were distributed with help from the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
The Mission Continues
Former American Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who worked as licensed pharmacist in the 1930s, once said “It’s not what they take away from you that counts — it’s what you do with what you have left.”
The heroes manning our Fearless Pharmacies took that lesson to heart. Their actions saved countless lives and eased the suffering of untold others. They continue to do more than their fair share to combat the COVID pandemic.
To honor the sacrifice, devotion, and bravery of the entire Good Neighbor Pharmacy network, Hanlon designed and is promoting the Fearless Pharmacy badge. We hope it will be displayed proudly in their stores and online to remind their patients and their communities that they have always gone above and beyond the call of duty — and now are going even further.
It’s unclear when or how this crisis will pass, but, without question, the fearless men and women of Good Neighbor Pharmacy will stay vigilant, innovative, and proactive in helping their communities weather the storm.
For that, we salute them today and everyday.