By Michael Wolfgang
Pharmacies are on the shortlist of businesses open to the public as they play a crucial role in the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 cases continue to spread across the country, and the Ohio Department of Health has continued to stress the importance of social distancing due to how easily COVID-19 can spread.
Joe Troutman, owner of Troutman’s Drug Company in Niles, said business has increased at his store during the pandemic.
“The last two weeks have been much busier with all the uncertainty. Everyone wants to be sure they have their medications,” Troutman said. “It’s challenging to balance the extra volume of work with the need to comply with safety measures for both employees and customers.”
Canfield Pharmacy Care pharmacist Mary Jo Kalasky has been in the pharmacy field for seven years. Despite health care workers being at high risk to catch the virus, Kalasky said she and her co-workers try to maintain business as usual.
“There is an overall feeling of slight uneasiness navigating this current state of affairs, but since we are so proactive, it is minimized.” Kalasky said. “Business has largely been the same.”
Canfield Pharmacy Care employees have begun wearing masks and gloves to better protect themselves, and the store offers curbside pickup.
Paul Nuzzi, a pharmacist at the Brine’s Hometown Pharmacy in Girard, said the safety precautions at Hometown are good but can improve.
“The new plexiglass that was installed is better than nothing, but we need more. We have two cash registers and only the main register has plexiglass protection.” Nuzzi said. “Some customers do not stand behind the glass and some customers do not stand behind the tape we have marked 6 feet apart on the aisle way floor.”
The Hometown Pharmacy locations have signs on the doors to let patients know that if they are not feeling well, they should call the store and an employee will run their medications out.
Nuzzi said hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are drugs that have shown promise in treating coronavirus patients.
“Practicing good hygiene, following the guidelines and staying positive is key.” Nuzzi said. “We are living in uncertain times at the moment, but do not let the fear take over your faith that this will end because it will end. It will take time, but it will end.”
Kalasky noted that if patients experience any symptoms of COVID-19, they should call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH. The Ohio Department of Health will be able to guide people through the current proper recommendations should symptoms appear.