Community pharmacies in coronavirus/COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak-affected and unaffected countries are often the first point of contact with the health system for those with concerns or in need of information and reliable advice. Their responsibilities include stocking appropriate products and promoting disease prevention. Hospital pharmacies in outbreak-affected and unaffected countries have an important role in in-hospital infection control as well as patient care and support. Pharmacists may also have roles in clinical laboratories. Depression, anxiety, and insomnia were identified as the prevalent mental health issues among those who are suffering. Although pharmacists are not always identified as part of the frontline team in some hospital settings where the majority of coronavirus cases are observed, this group of health care professionals has also experienced the burdens associated with increased patient demands, the potential for exposure, and shifting role expectations. Pharmacists are also on the frontlines in terms of the drug delivery system in the United States.
Since December 2019, an outbreak of a new human coronavirus has spread to many countries and caused thousands of cases and deaths. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new virus SARS-CoV-2. Most people who are infected get mild respiratory symptoms that will disappear on their own, but some people develop more severe illness, like pneumonia. The virus is transmitted through contact with an infected person or via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is a higher risk of infection if you have been in an area where the virus is spreading, or if you have been in close contact with a person infected with the new coronavirus. There is also a higher risk if you suffer from comorbidities already.
Coronavirus infections can be prevented and an outbreak can be stopped through the active engagement of decision-makers, healthcare professionals, the media and the community. This was demonstrated in previous coronavirus outbreaks such as in 2003 with SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) or in 2012 with MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus). This document aims to assist pharmacists and the pharmacy workforce in preventing the spread of the disease and contributing to its efficient management in the healthcare system. During these challenging times, pharmacists should engage in a continuous self-assessment of their mental health status and identify any signs of anxiety, depression, or stress that may be related to addressing this crisis.
Pharmacists are major contributors to health care delivery during this pandemic, but to continue to serve patients effectively, they must make sure that they are constantly evaluating their own mental health status for signs of psychological burden.
Pharmacies can provide additional services and resources that can be utilized to further strengthen national emergency response capabilities as a trusted healthcare provider which provides unparalleled access to those populations that need assistance the most.
• Provide up-to-date influenza and pneumonia vaccinations, which could be helpful if patients contract COVID-19.
• Pharmacist permitted as a point-of-care testing, screen for influenza and strep, which aids physicians in triaging patients.
• Prescribe medications via collaborative practice agreements to help reduce the burden on primary care practices, emergency rooms, and hospitals.
• Educate the public by sending up accurate information online.
• Provide services such as prescription delivery to allow patients to stay at home if clinically advisable, which can help avoid disease transmission.
• Practice good antibiotic stewardship.