The impact of the pandemic is causing shortages all across the country and pharmacies are no exception. KGUN9 spoke to one pharmacist about why workers are leaving and solutions to the problem. Pharmacist Bill Osborn is a member of the National Community Pharmacist Association. Osborn has seen a lot of changes since the start of the pandemic and a shortage of staff at pharmacies across the country is one of them. Workers are demanding better pay and safer working conditions. In addition, some pharmacy technicians might also give vaccine shots to customers and the impact is nationwide.
“If you pay more, they have to do more. The job has gotten more difficult a lot more pressure. We’re relying on the technicians more and more. It's really critical that you have good technicians to help you,” Osborn said
A recent survey from NCPA.org found that 70% of independent pharmacies are struggling with staffing and supply chain issues. Higher drug prices and lower reimbursements from insurance plans are also factors affecting their bottom line. Around 41%of participants say the financial health of their business is bad. Aside from higher pay, Osborn says there are some ways to help fix the situation.
"You have to put workflows in place, and you have to be willing to invest in people. We close our doors at 6pm that's helped us. We’ve updated our pharmacy software system to try to be more efficient to try to make it easier to fill prescriptions,” Osborn said.
KGUN 9 reached out to CVS and Walgreens about the impact of worker shortages and both responded with the following statements that read in part:
"Our teams remain flexible in meeting customers needs in a dynamic environment that is part of a nationwide workforce shortage affecting nearly every industry and company. Early in the pandemic we hired 10,000 pharmacy technicians to support these efforts.”
“We are taking several steps to mitigate current pharmacy staffing pressures, including hiring thousands of new pharmacy team members, offering bonuses for vaccination certifications, and adjusting our appointment availability and store hours as needed.” Walgreens Spokesperson
At this point some pharmacy hours will be adjusted until the labor issue is resolved. In the meantime, pharmacists are asking for patience, because they’re doing what they can to stay open.
Osborn has some words of wisdom for pharmacy techs who are on the fence about leaving their job.
“If you’re in an environment where you can’t take care of a patient or it's not safe then you need to take appropriate action,” Osborn said.