Implementation of CDC & OSHA COVID-19: Recommendations for the Pharmacy Department

  1. Provide local pharmacy managers with authority to take action for the safety and protection of their employees and patients. 
  1. Install temporary barriers between pharmacy staff and foot traffic to eliminate face-to-face interactions and air contamination in the pharmacy department.
  1. Close pharmacy access to walk up customers. This is essential in order to avoid lines of patients waiting for assistance and unnecessarily exposing a limited staff.
  1. Conduct all business via drive through, curbside drop off, and/or telephone. This is key to minimizing the need for personal protective equipment for an outpatient staff when supplies are in short supply and needed by other critical organizations.
  1. Divide staff into teams and work extended, staggered shifts. This is key as it is not often realistic for pharmacy staff to maintain 6ft of separation in the workplace. In the event one employee is exposed to infection it will easily render the entire staff unable to operate for an extended period of time. Strongly consider adding additional pharmacy service associates for technical roles. Limit staff to working routinely scheduled shifts in NO MORE THAN 2 locations.
  1. Recognize all precautions must be taken in order to avoid compromising the health of the staff, given the limited number of individuals available to backfill key roles. Pharmacy personnel will play a crucial role in healthcare when doctors and nurses are unavailable due to increased workloads.
  1. In the event pharmacists are granted new emergency responsibilities (ie provide testing, prescribe antibiotics for acute infections, etc), patients must be screened for active infections, make appointments, have clear instructions for where to go upon arrival to the pharmacy. Pharmacy staff must have access to OSHA-approved Personal Protective Equipment, and staff must have easy access to training documents from an accredited source.
  1. Consider adding specific, dedicated phone lines in order to minimize the burden to drive throughs and curbside pickups. This will increase the efficiency of transactions as customers are waiting in their vehicles. Consultations will be conducted by pharmacists prior to patients receiving medication or after. This can be communicated with the patient utilizing a written message on their prescription at pickup and additional posted signage.
  1. Do NOT allow patients to utilize the same equipment: signature logs, pens, telephones in drive throughs, etc. Require expectations be published for cleaning. Require staff maintain logs for frequent, routine cleaning. This is absolutely essential to stopping the spread of infection between our patients.
  1. Educate staff on the signs and symptoms of infection, what to do in the event they fall ill during or outside of work hours, and identify who they must report to in the store if they develop a household contact with illness. Provide frequent training refreshers and have information clearly posted.
  1. Establish a fluid COVID19 plan for managing absenteeisms (identify essential and non-essential functions in the event staff is significantly reduced, identify hierarchy for the role of scheduling, identify contacts in the event outside employees are needed to fill key roles). Ensure staff knows where this information is located and has quick access to key phone numbers from their homes.