Mike Stoeckmann

Mike Stoeckmann

When I worked in the pharmacy one of the most frequent complaints I heard from frustrated patients was about childproof caps. The following year my neighbor’s husband pulled into the driveway, got out of his car and collapsed dead. I helped John’s 85-year-old wife Freida by picking up her prescriptions, opening her reversible childproof caps, organizing her pill box and reminding her to take her medications. But in her fog, she could not remember when to take them and kept blaming me for not giving her enough Excedrin. These were tough times for all, but it worked out. Frieda went to assisted living and loves it. Frieda’s experience with her meds is typical and familiar to many patients. Most patients not unsurprisingly blame the pharmacy for the childproof cap headache. I used to blame the Poison Prevention Packaging Act signed into law 50 years ago. But the cap was developed in Canada in 1967. Mark Mancini writes in “Mental Floss” that the Mayans in 500 BCE had the original childproof cap. What mysterious medicine was in the original hard-to-open pill bottle? Chocolate! Patricia Brock is the author of “Reflections of a Desert Town,” a thoroughly entertaining history of Maricopa. She tells us that in the late 1950s, she worked at the drugstore for David P. and Nellie Nash Kimball. Mr. Kimball was Maricopa’s first druggist or community pharmacist. Mr. Kimball also owned and operated the first drug store chain in Phoenix and throughout Arizona called Apache Drug Stores. Every day, Mr. Kimball’s wife Nellie would serve a huge pot of chili beans, which was a favorite of the farmers at the drugstore counter. Almost a century later, the Kimballs would be astounded to see the incredible growth of Maricopa and make plans for a larger beanpot. Much of what the Kimballs started long ago exists in the half dozen community pharmacies that serve Maricopa and beyond today. Today’s community pharmacy is evolving from a place of product distribution into a health care destination as detailed in an article from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy or AACP. Picture a wellness center with an integrated health care team, synchronized medical records and the delivery of direct patient care. Pharmacy technicians will be elevated to an increased level of responsibility. For example, the pharmacist determines the vaccinations for a patient and the pharmacy technician administers the vaccinations. The grinding outsized influence of the pharmaceutical industry and the ongoing opioid crisis have complicated the transition to tomorrow’s wellness community pharmacy. Then the crushing blow of the pandemic created nightmares not only for the community pharmacy but for all our health care providers and patients. Pharmacies had to deal with a 15% increase in prescription volume, higher drive-thru traffic, COVID-19 test processing and vaccination administration. The great disruption has led to a burned-out health care workforce. What else could go wrong? How about staffing shortages? As the pandemic altered the delivery of health care, patients have suffered through the confusion and uncertainty. Patients should educate themselves for a more certain expectation and productive visit at any medical encounter. Knowledge is your best medicine at the pharmacy. Set aside fear. Stay positive, be realistic and make your problem your friend. Study and follow your insurance health care plan. Request 90-day medication supplies, keep your medication list current and use a pill box if you take four or more medications daily. If you don’t have insurance, ask the pharmacy if they offer a discount plan or look for a sponsored discount card and request generic medications. Budget your time at the pharmacy and avoid peak hours. Ask questions at the pharmacy. Develop a relationship with your pharmacy. And of course, please don’t lose your patience with the overworked pharmacy staff. The pharmacy did not invent the childproof cap. One of these days you will go to the integrated pharmacy wellness center and a pharmacy technician will ask you to step on the scale. Then your blood pressure will be recorded, you’ll be tested for a respiratory virus and provided with a medication reconciliation. You will spend five minutes with the pharmacist and a technician will administer your yearly vaccinations, print out an integrated blood test for a quick health scan and dispense your medications without a prior authorization. That day may be sooner than you think. Last Thursday our local news channel reported a partnership between Walgreens and Village MD to open 22 primary care clinics by year end in the Phoenix metro area. However, there will be no chili beans for lunch. Medicine is education. We are all patients. ——— Mike Stoeckmann is a medical project coordinator who has been working in community-based health care for the past 20 years.

When I worked in the pharmacy one of the most frequent complaints I heard from frustrated patients was about childproof caps. The following year my neighbor’s husband pulled into the driveway, got out of his car and collapsed dead. I helped John’s 85-year-old wife Freida by picking up her prescriptions, opening her reversible childproof caps, organizing her pill box and reminding her to take her medications. But in her fog, she could not remember when to take them and kept blaming me for not giving her enough Excedrin. These were tough times for all, but it worked out. Frieda went to assisted living and loves it. Frieda’s experience with her meds is typical and familiar to many patients.

Most patients not unsurprisingly blame the pharmacy for the childproof cap headache. I used to blame the Poison Prevention Packaging Act signed into law 50 years ago. But the cap was developed in Canada in 1967. Mark Mancini writes in “Mental Floss” that the Mayans in 500 BCE had the original childproof cap. What mysterious medicine was in the original hard-to-open pill bottle? Chocolate!

Patricia Brock is the author of “Reflections of a Desert Town,” a thoroughly entertaining history of Maricopa. She tells us that in the late 1950s, she worked at the drugstore for David P. and Nellie Nash Kimball. Mr. Kimball was Maricopa’s first druggist or community pharmacist. Mr. Kimball also owned and operated the first drug store chain in Phoenix and throughout Arizona called Apache Drug Stores. Every day, Mr. Kimball’s wife Nellie would serve a huge pot of chili beans, which was a favorite of the farmers at the drugstore counter. Almost a century later, the Kimballs would be astounded to see the incredible growth of Maricopa and make plans for a larger beanpot. Much of what the Kimballs started long ago exists in the half dozen community pharmacies that serve Maricopa and beyond today.

Today’s community pharmacy is evolving from a place of product distribution into a health care destination as detailed in an article from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy or AACP. Picture a wellness center with an integrated health care team, synchronized medical records and the delivery of direct patient care. Pharmacy technicians will be elevated to an increased level of responsibility. For example, the pharmacist determines the vaccinations for a patient and the pharmacy technician administers the vaccinations.

The grinding outsized influence of the pharmaceutical industry and the ongoing opioid crisis have complicated the transition to tomorrow’s wellness community pharmacy. Then the crushing blow of the pandemic created nightmares not only for the community pharmacy but for all our health care providers and patients. Pharmacies had to deal with a 15% increase in prescription volume, higher drive-thru traffic, COVID-19 test processing and vaccination administration. The great disruption has led to a burned-out health care workforce. What else could go wrong? How about staffing shortages?

As the pandemic altered the delivery of health care, patients have suffered through the confusion and uncertainty. Patients should educate themselves for a more certain expectation and productive visit at any medical encounter. Knowledge is your best medicine at the pharmacy. Set aside fear. Stay positive, be realistic and make your problem your friend.

Study and follow your insurance health care plan. Request 90-day medication supplies, keep your medication list current and use a pill box if you take four or more medications daily. If you don’t have insurance, ask the pharmacy if they offer a discount plan or look for a sponsored discount card and request generic medications.

Budget your time at the pharmacy and avoid peak hours. Ask questions at the pharmacy. Develop a relationship with your pharmacy. And of course, please don’t lose your patience with the overworked pharmacy staff. The pharmacy did not invent the childproof cap.

One of these days you will go to the integrated pharmacy wellness center and a pharmacy technician will ask you to step on the scale. Then your blood pressure will be recorded, you’ll be tested for a respiratory virus and provided with a medication reconciliation. You will spend five minutes with the pharmacist and a technician will administer your yearly vaccinations, print out an integrated blood test for a quick health scan and dispense your medications without a prior authorization.

That day may be sooner than you think. Last Thursday our local news channel reported a partnership between Walgreens and Village MD to open 22 primary care clinics by year end in the Phoenix metro area. However, there will be no chili beans for lunch.

Mike Stoeckmann is a medical project coordinator who has been working in community-based health care for the past 20 years.

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