From day one, members of the pharmacy team have been on the front lines of Alameda Health System’s (AHS) response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, they continue to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to the health and wellness of our patients and the community during a surging public health crisis.
Today on National Pharmacist Day, AHS celebrates and honors the pharmacy staff’s many contributions to our patients and community during these unprecedented and challenging times.
Now more than ever as new confirmed cases of COVID-19 are once again on the rise with Omicron, it is important to understand the role pharmacy played and continues to play in keeping patients healthy.
From the onset of the pandemic, Clinical Pharmacists and Pharmacy leadership assumed instrumental roles in the COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce and COVID-19 Treatment Committee.
As soon as the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, the Pharmacy staff at all AHS sites were ready to hit the ground running and vaccine administration began 24 to 48 hours after receiving the first shipment.
In addition, the pharmacy team expanded their regular scope of work to include serving AHS patients as COVID-19 vaccinators and testers.
“Information was being disseminated in real time and pharmacy had little time to prepare,” said System Director of Pharmacy, Diana Thamrin. “We were nimble and quick and successfully managed an adequate vaccine supply and made at least one vaccine formulation available system wide in a matter of days.”
Thamrin shared that many staff spent time on the road driving to county and AHS sites to obtain and distribute vaccines and even deliver individual doses to patients. Pharmacist residents and leaders volunteered on the weekends to help increase the rate of early vaccinations and promote access and equity throughout the Bay Area.
Their commitment continues today, with the current surge of the Omicron variant across the country and vaccine eligibility that now includes children and adolescents from five years and older. The expanded role of pharmacists as vaccinators and testers is critical as more patients seek first and second doses as well as boosters. The shortage of at-home testing kits at retail outlets has also increased the demand for testing at AHS.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has not prevented pharmacists from continuing to provide life-saving medications and pharmacy services to patients. Many pharmacists have direct patient care roles in chronic disease management including diabetes, heart failure, asthma, anticoagulation, HIV, oncology, infectious disease, critical care and trauma.
They also advise physicians and nurses on the best medications, monitor patients’ medication therapy and provide quality checks to detect and prevent harmful drug interactions, reactions or mistakes. The pharmacists at AHS have moved beyond compounding and dispensing medications to becoming vital members of multidisciplinary patient-care teams.
At AHS we are proud and thankful for the pharmacy team including leaders, pharmacists, technicians, residents and students for their hard work and tireless commitment to our patients in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Thamrin shared that pharmacy staff is definitely up to the task ahead of them, “No job is too big or too small for this team,” said Thamrin proudly.
On National Pharmacy Day and every day please take a moment to thank them for their contributions and their impact on our organization and the patients we serve.