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feature Preparing for the Unexpected

Preparing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best Featured here is a sampling of how pharmacists and vendors prepared and responded to Sandy, the superstorm that battered the East Coast this Fall. Take a few moments now and plan for any disaster or emergency situation that may affect your pharmacy.

by Maggie Lockwood


isaster preparation is one of those items on your to-do list that might fall to the bottom until there’s a situation like the one that pharmacists on the East Coast faced Oct. 29: Sandy hit the mid-Atlantic region with tropical storm winds and a tidal surge. For some pharmacies, good fortune and quick decisionmaking after the storm meant the doors opened and makeshift dispensing resumed even as tens of thousands were without power. For others, the damage was significant, and there’ll be a long road to recovery. In the New Jersey shore town of Sea Girt, Brian Campbell at Campbell’s Pharmacy, a high-volume independent, said that as the storm approached he planned on a scenario of up to 10 days without power. The day of the storm, the store closed early and the staff performed the standard routine of powering down the system, unplugging vital equipment and moving the daily backup tape off-site. The pharmacy data is also backed up off-site by OPUS-ISM, now a Lagniappe Health company. “You really prepare for the worst,” says Campbell. In addition to preparing the store, Campbell had put in an additional order prior to the storm with his wholesaler, Cardinal, and with Web-based ordering, the store 18


was able to keep its inventory up to meet the need. To ensure continuity of care for its assisted-living facilities, Campbell’s prepacked an extra cycle of medication that would be ready to go when needed. Immediately after the storm, Campbell’s Pharmacy was without power, running on two gas generators for light, but not enough “clean” power to run the computers. Campbell was in touch with his OPUS-ISM customer service rep, Lisa Parigi, who suggested moving the computer, the server, and a printer up to the vendor’s offices an hour away. What Campbell really needed was power to run his system and adjudicate claims. “One of the things I didn’t want was to be without power and not be able to do anything,” he says. “When our vendor mentioned going off-site, I thought we could at least do refills. We didn’t get many new prescriptions, because doctors’ offices weren’t open. If we got a new prescription, we could write the label out by hand and fill it at the store.” They stayed closer to home, setting up operations in the basement of a Campbell’s employee who had power. By Nov. 1, the pharmacy was adjudicating prescriptions off-site and filling the orders at the pharmacy, which