Metro Grocery Store, Bellville ON
The Intelligencer, Belleville ON
By Luke Hendry
The Progressive Conservative MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings blew through a quick testing session Tuesday at the pharmacy of Belleville’s Metro grocery store.
It was a demonstration of pharmacies’ expanded services and staged by the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada.
The association’s Healthcare Closer to Home campaign promotes providing minor treatments, such as flu shots, and counselling. “It’s making better use of retail pharmacies’ capacities,” said association communications director Allan Austin.
“The health care system is under tremendous pressure because of an aging population and rapidly-rising costs.”
Pharmacists can help by offering services and easing the demand on hospitals and family doctors, he said.
This is the third year in which pharmacists will be providing the influenza vaccine. Twenty-two pharmacies in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties are involved this season.
Pharmacist Monette McFaul said many families like the convenience of getting their shots during their shopping trips because it’s one less stop to make and available daily. She added she and her staff are trained in First Aid in case of complications.
She said medication counselling is also popular, especially among seniors and people requiring many prescriptions.
McFaul said a meeting with a patient allows a pharmacist to ensure there will be no conflicts between those drugs, since the wrong combination can be dangerous. It also sorts out unneeded medications.
“It helps the pharmacist and the patient both to ensure the patient is getting the best care possible,” McFaul said.
In one case, she said, a patients’ adult children brought in a bag full of medicine so they could better understand her care.
“It’s not unusual for elderly people to have a bottle of medicine they’ve had for 10 years,” she said. “They keep it just in case.”
Pharmacies have other free services to help people with multiple prescriptions, she said, and offer free disposal of old or unneeded medicine.
McFaul said pharmacists could also provide travel or shingles vaccinations, for example, but Ontario law prevents them from doing more.
That’s wrong, said MPP Smith.
“There’s legislation in place that is restricting them from working in the full scope of their practice,” Smith said, saying such professionals are “more than qualified” to do more.
The association’s Austin said the group continues to lobby the province to ease such restrictions.