Healthcare Closer to Home Niagara Falls
Healthcare Closer to Home Niagara Falls
Expanding role of pharmacists can mean better health care. Move would mean cost savings and better access to care.
Niagara Falls

Food Basics Pharmacy, Niagara Falls ON

Niagara This Week - Niagara Falls


When the provincial government expanded the role of pharmacists to allow them to do things such as dispense flu shots and conduct blood sugar tests, it was a good first step toward better stretching limited health care dollars, but more can be done, according to the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada (NPAC).

The group said expanding services pharmacist provide to things such as administration of vaccines, minor diagnosis and prescribing of medication and wellness and medication counseling will ease burdens on physicians and lessen wait times in emergency rooms across the province.

“It’s all about treating Canadians, quicker and closer to home,” said Allan Austin, communications director for the association.

The group met with Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates at the pharmacy located inside of Food Basics on Montrose Road. The group is calling on politicians all across the country to put pressure on provincial governments to implement what the NPAC calls Healthcare Closer to Home.

“They (pharmacists) have the training and the infrastructure,” Austin said. “This is where it can happen.”

The group estimates that by widening the scope of services offered by pharmacists, between 300,000 and 600,000 visits to emergency rooms could be avoided.

Additionally, by allowing pharmacists to help mange chronic care for patients, some $1.4 to $1.9 billion could be saved over three years.

Tara Severin, pharmacy manager at Food Basics, said many people already look to their pharmacist first when experiencing health issues, so it may be prudent for the government to take a long, hard look at expanding the types of service she can provide to customers. Since pharmacists were allowed to give out flu shots two years ago, she has inoculated between 200 and 250 people over that time.

“In the end, health-care dollars can be saved,” she said.

But most importantly she would be able to provide frontline care, lessening the burden for physicians and cutting wait times in emergency rooms.

“We can help the community,” she said.

Gates, meanwhile, likes the idea.

“I always use my pharmacist,” he said. “Whether it’s for getting my flu shot or talking about my medications.”

And he agrees that the move can save valuable health-care dollars for the province.

“They’re not giving any more money for health care,” he said.

He added that for seniors, who may not always have the ability to get to a doctor, being able to get help from their pharmacy could be of great benefit.

“A lot of seniors can make it to their local pharmacy,” he said.

It’s also the way for the future, he added.

“People are living longer,” he said. “It’s a way health-care dollars may be used more wisely."

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