Community Rx and COVID: A source of ‘thoughtful information’

Wolkar Pharmacy also ramps up home delivery, drive-through, curbside pickup and mailing
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Friday, April 10, 2020

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. – When community pharmacist Brian Caswell saw his business starting to shift outside the four walls of his store, he bought another car.

“We’re doing more home delivery, drive-through, curbside pickup and mailing—we anticipated this,” said Caswell, owner of Wolkar Pharmacy in Baxter Springs, Kan., a rural farming community of 4,200 people, where baseball legend Mickey Mantle was discovered and Route 66 runs past the pharmacy’s front door.

Caswell, who is also president of the National Community Pharmacists Association, spoke with HME News recently about evolving his business model and the inevitability of the pandemic.

HME News: Has your community seen any COVID-19 cases yet?

Bob Caswell: In my county, there have been three positives. I feel it will be as bad here as the rest of the country but on our smaller scale. We’ve had time to prepare—the governor was well ahead of a lot of people in putting out a stay-at-home order. People are mindful of that and trying to wash their hands and do their distancing. They are preparing. There’s an inevitability to this.

HME: Do you see educating the public about coronavirus as part of your role in the community?

Caswell: People look to us as a trusted source of information and I’m very meticulous about what I share. We’ve been very active on social media putting out thoughtfully researched information about what we are seeing, updates on how to conduct yourself, pharmacy stuff and social distancing stuff. I’ve noticed that our web page is being used more and our Facebook page has seen tremendous use.

HME: Community pharmacies have faced financial challenges for years. Will this make it worse?

Caswell: From the business aspect, our challenges have been heightened. We’re trying to stay relevant, pay the bills and keep the doors open. The thin margins cut down on extra services and it limits what you can do. That was our experience before the pandemic began and we’re in the middle of it now and it will be more difficult. We need to find new ways of meeting the needs of our patients so their medications are not curtailed in any way, and to take our time with (educating patients about) medications and products. Would like to see more national recognition of that.