August 31, 2020
To keep our patients safe while also maintaining the high quality care they know and trust, Venice Family Clinic’s pharmacy is now offering delivery for prescription medication.
The new service is already proving to be popular among patients, especially those who are at increased risk of serious illness resulting from COVID-19. In its first week, deliveries increased from just a couple a day to more than 10 per day.
“It’s definitely popular. We could probably have an entire team dedicated to deliveries,” said Sharon Ng, the Clinic’s director of pharmacy. “With COVID-19, we want our at-risk patients who are immunocompromised to limit their trips outside their homes. The delivery service allows us to make sure they get their essential medications without having to come to the Clinic.”
Some of these patients have chronic diabetes and also suffer from hypertension and high cholesterol. They are benefitting from same-day delivery of their insulin, brought safely to their homes in cool packs. Even those patients who aren’t at risk physically but who experience other difficulties, including people who need medications to treat their mental health, have successfully used the new service.
For patients who prefer to come to the Clinic to pick up their medication, our pharmacy has taken all the necessary COVID-19 precautions, including installing plexiglass between Clinic staff and patients and six-foot markers on floors to maintain physical distance.
“Some patients do still want to come in,” Ng said. “We give a lot of freebies with our prescriptions, including sunblock and vitamins. But for the most part, our patients want to see us because we’re a part of the community.”
Having a pharmacy in-house at a community health center like Venice Family Clinic is significant. Not only does it allow the Clinic to provide the quality comprehensive care our patients need and deserve, but our in-house pharmacists take the time to get to know our patients – something that’s lacking when it comes to most retail pharmacies.
Some patients, such as those on the blood thinner coumadin, need frequent and careful attention. Having a pharmacy as part of your medical home streamlines services for more effective care.
“Often these patients’ hearts are pumping irregularly. If there’s a clot, it can dislodge and go to the brain, lungs or legs,” Ng said. “These patients can bleed out because of the blood thinner, so you have to have the perfect dose. We have to routinely monitor and adjust.”
Our pharmacists can meet with patients one on one, discussing diet, exercise, why it’s important to take their medications as prescribed and adjust medication dosage as needed. They’ll also provide a pill box to keep patients organized; help with technical issues with their machines, such as those used to measure glucose or blood pressure; and even check diabetes patients’ feet.
Pharmacists also partner with our physicians for follow-up care. Recently, Ng was alerted by one of the Clinic’s doctors to a type 2 diabetes patient whose hemoglobin A1c level had increased. Ng called the patient to ask if anything had changed in her life that could have caused this set back. The patient explained that she had recently taken a trip, and the airline lost her luggage, including all her medication and glucose testing supplies. So Ng replaced everything for her and made a follow-up appointment to ensure her blood glucose would be at her goal.
“We go above and beyond to figure out how to best help our patients,” Ng said. “Often that means figuring out what medications are covered or working with providers to quickly approve substitutions so we can give that to the patient the same day. This is a big deal because many of our patients can’t afford to take more time off from work to revisit us just to pick up their medication.”
The Clinic’s pharmacists also help to ensure our patients receive the medications they need – whether or not they’re covered, and at a price they can afford.
“We’ve had patients who have gotten insurance through Covered California and have gone to a retail pharmacy, and they’ve come back to us,” Ng said. “They’ve said they would rather travel farther to see us than go to another pharmacy again because we’ve shown that we truly care for them.”
Part of that genuine patient care includes the new prescription deliveries, which are free within a 10-mile radius of our flagship location on Rose Avenue in Venice. The Clinic’s pharmacy plans to expand the service to include shipping as well, which will expand this service to patients across Los Angeles County.