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Cover Story Putting the patient first Carol Lazaruk is breathing much easier these days, and it's not just because she hasn't smoked a cigarette for six months. It's also because she knows she can count on her pharmacist for support. At Calgary Co-Op’s pharmacies, the goal optimal patient healthcare drives the business PHOTOS Carlos Amat Photography by Karen Welds Top, L-R: Sonal Ejner, Carol Lazaruk (patient), Nadine Hammoud, Judy Roberts. Bottom, L-R: Carol Lazaruk; Sonal Ejner and Carol. 14 Not only does she call me every two weeks, but whenever I’m at the pharmacy she’ll ask me how things are going. And I can phone her anytime,” says Lazaruk of Sonal Ejner, pharmacy manager and certified respiratory educator at Crowfoot Calgary Co-op in Calgary, Alberta. “Two years ago I went to a smoking cessation clinic, and the people there were really good, but they didn’t do this kind of follow-up. This personal touch really helps.” Karl Valois echoes those comments when asked about his pharmacist, Ryan Keller, pharmacy manager at Calgary Coop’s Rocky Ridge location. His doctor referred him to Keller, a certified diabetes educator, to start insulin therapy. After two face-to-face appointments, “we’re in touch now from week to week,” says Valois. “He’ll email or text me, or I’ll email him. I also do groceries at the Co-op twice a week and go to see him. Sometimes we talk for just a few seconds, and that’s all I need. He’s great.” Both Lazaruk and Valois enthuse not only about the time saved by being able to talk with their pharmacist in this way, but also the time gained to manage their health. “I can breathe a lot easier now and I’m using less medication,” says Lazaruk, who has COPD. “Sonal has definitely changed my perception of what pharmacists can do. But she also leaves the final decisions completely up to me. That’s important. In this day and age, people have to look after their own health.” Valois agrees. Despite losing 50 pounds in the first year after diagnosis, his bloodglucose readings “were beyond the scope of most meters,” he says. While insulin therapy has performed a “miracle” to bring those numbers down, he knows the last few steps to reach the normal range are up to him. Valois likens Keller’s support to that of a “game plan” to follow and adjust as required. “I’d say this is definitely a novel approach for pharmacists. We can all hope that more will do it.” Time on your side At Calgary Co-operative Association Ltd., optimal patient care is simply a matter of time. Literally. The chain of 24 co-operatively owned supermarkets with pharmacies is taking concrete steps to ensure pharmacists have the time to counsel patients on all prescriptions and, more recently, to deliver expanded services. “With the pressures of generic pricing, we’re seeing other pharmacies with one pharmacist and three techs or assistants on duty to cut costs. That will never happen here,” says Trent Lane, pharmacy director. “Our policy provides guaranteed overlap and time for breaks. A new pharmacy always starts with three pharmacists and a four-hour overlap between one and five. When we reach a certain volume we’ll add an assistant, and then as volume grows we’ll maintain a one-to-one ratio between pharmacists and assistants or technicians.” At the Crowfoot location, which dispenses more than 300 scripts a day, four pharmacists and four assistants are typically on duty during the afternoon peak period, says Ejner. The pharmacists use this time to conduct previously booked appointments for injections, medication reviews and care plans (the latter for those with chronic conditions). With Alberta’s implementation of the Pharmacy Services Framework in July 2012, all of these services are billable. February 2013 Drugstore Canada 15

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