Yorkgate IDA, North York ON
Most people are aware Ontario pharmacists can now administer the flu shot. In fact, 650,000 Ontario residents took them up on that offer in 2014.
But, that’s just one of a number of new services people can access at a local pharmacy following a number of regulation changes by the provincial government.
The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada stopped by the Yorkgate IDA Friday, Sept. 11 to help highlight some of the new services available at this pharmacy and at thousands more across Ontario.
The new regulations are a way to help people access health care closer to home.
Pharmacists can now:
• Administer flu shots
• Provide smoking cessation counselling and prescribe medications to support patients who want to quit smoking
• Provide MedsCheck medication reviews, at no charge for eligible patients (a one-on-one meeting between patient and pharmacist to review medications to ensure they are safe and effective)
• Adapt and renew prescriptions (if a doctor can’t be reached on time)
• Help patients meet their health and wellness goals by providing information and support
“Our traditional work has been dispensing, behind the counter. This allows me to come out of the counter and interact with patients,” said Daks Amin, Yorkgate IDA owner.
“Because we’re located close to a Family Health Team, I can look at some of the lab results, I can work out risk factors for patients. It’s a very good feature the government has included.”
Amin can conduct hypertension clinics (for people with high blood pressure), which allows him to fine tune medicine dosages. He said this is helpful with chronic disease management, which is particularly important for an aging population.
“As the population is aging, patients have issues with adhering to medication, issues with compliance. For example, blood pressure tablets, whether or not you take them, you pretty much feel the same,” he said. “We have to constantly encourage them to keep taking those. If they’re forgetting, we can package their medication in blister packs for better compliance.”
If a doctor can’t be reached on time, pharmacists can renew prescriptions on a short-term basis, and adapt it to benefit the patient. For example, if a doctor prescribes tablets and the patient has trouble swallowing them, the pharmacist can change the prescription to liquid.
York West MPP Mario Sergio came out for the tour and said making these new services available at pharmacies is part of the government’s efforts to make access to health care easier. It is also more cost effective and frees up time at doctor’s offices and hospitals.
Sergio said he’s disheartened when he hears seniors say they don’t plan to get a flu shot. However, he admits changing family situations or problems with mobility can make it hard for a person to see their doctor who may be a drive away.
“As a senior, you may not want to do that all the time,” he said. “It depends on the situation. So, when you’re in the neighbourhood and you can walk to (the pharmacy), it’s a different story.”
According to the Ontario Pharmacists Association, 85 per cent of Ontario’s residents live within two kilometres of a pharmacy. Some pharmacies are also open 24 hours a day.