The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association (NPA) of Canada is promoting its Closer to Home initiative, which aims to expand the range of services that pharmacists can provide to customers.
Jocelyne Grise, the manager of the Safeway Pharmacy in Lloydminster, said that the Closer to Home initiative can improve the lives of residents in rural communities like Lloydminster.
“We have a lot of patients that find it difficult to get to into their physicians and this way we are able to ensure that the patients are compliant with this medication, and their health care is going to be addressed and make sure that their supply of medication is there as well,” she said.
Healthcare Closer to Home showcases services to the public and encourages government officials to continue increasing pharmacist scope of practice where appropriate, according to the NPA.
“We do an assessment of the patient, the ensure that it’s safe for us to continue on with the medication,” said Grise.
“If it’s not safe for us to continue we make sure that we refer them to a health care professional to deal with the situation,” she added.
Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke who spoke with Grise, said that he has all the confidence because of the training that pharmacists receive that they can prescribe medication, in some ways, as another professional.
“Pharmacists are a key profession in terms of providing access in all parts of the province,” he said.
“There is a skill set in our pharmacists that in the past has been untapped,” Starke said. “These are skilled professionals ... they can be a big part of the overall healthcare picture.”
Starke said that the expanded scope that the government has given the pharmacists in the province has given them the chance to do a lot more for people.
According to Grise, pharmacists continue their education even after leaving school.
“It’s always something that evolves, because the recommendations change, and you have to make sure that you are staying on top of it, and applying it to every situation.”
Starke is part way through a rural health review that was tasked to him by Minister of Health Stephen Mandel and part of the review is looking at the delivery of health care in all of Alberta.
“Particularly in smaller communities, pharmacists have been there for a long, long time. These are folks that know their clients, and know a lot of their medical conditions.”
Under the Healthcare Closer to Home, this is the first year that pharmacists are allowed to administer flu vaccines. According to Gise, this has taken the work load off doctors.