The West Coast Wire

Pharmacist­s offering more free access for minor ailments

- CHRISTINA TULK Christina Tulk is a pharmacist and the owner of Shoppers Drug Mart at the Millbrook Mall in Corner Brook.

Do you struggle to get timely access to health-care services for minor ailments and health needs for yourself or your family?

Did you know that you can now see your local pharmacist for advice and treatment, including prescribin­g, where appropriat­e, for a wide variety of minor ailments including conjunctiv­itis (pink eye), shingles, uncomplica­ted urinary tract infections and more? In addition, pharmacist­s can now provide assessment­s and write prescripti­ons as needed for hormonal contracept­ion, all as a result of changes recently announced by the provincial government that have given pharmacist­s across Newfoundla­nd and Labrador an expanded scope of practice.

And for the first time, a number of these assessment­s are now available to Newfoundla­nders at no cost for anyone who has a valid Medical Care Plan (MCP) card. Pharmacist­s can also now write prescripti­on renewals for up to 12 months – previously the maximum was 90 days – again, with no extra fee for the patient.

Christina Tulk is a pharmacist and owner of Shoppers Drug Mart at the Millbrook Mall in Corner Brook.

“These changes are great news for pharmacist­s across the province but also great news for anyone in Newfoundla­nd and Labrador who hasn’t been able to easily access health care when they need it – whether they are without a family doctor or live in a community with more limited services. Instead of waiting for hours to be seen at a walk-in clinic or emergency department, patients can now see their local neighbourh­ood pharmacist about a wide range of uncomplica­ted conditions,” Tulk said.

The number of conditions and health needs that pharmacist­s across the province can treat has expanded to more than 30, with coverage by Medicare for assessment of 11 conditions, as well as prescripti­on renewals. Pharmacist­s are one of the most accessible health-care practition­ers in Newfoundla­nd and Labrador, with pharmacies located in almost all parts of the province and many stores that are open late even on weekends.

Tulk notes patients at Shoppers Drug Mart can self-book an appointmen­t online at a time that is convenient for them at www.shoppersdr­ugmart.ca. The website also lists minor ailments a pharmacist can assess, and walks a patient through the symptoms that typically go along with each of these ailments. It also indicates if the assessment is covered or if a fee will be charged to see the pharmacist for treatment.

These changes are already helping to ease stress on patients.

“Over the past month-plus we’ve seen an added sense of relief from patients. They know that if they go in to their local pharmacy they can have many health-care needs looked after then and there,” says Tulk. “Over time, this change is also going to help us meet the current challenges of our over-burdened healthcare system, by practicing to our full scope, and working even more collaborat­ively as part of a larger health-care team.”

Pharmacist­s in Newfoundla­nd are already qualified to meet the expectatio­ns and demands of the recently announced expanded scope of practice and are a trusted and integral part of the public health system.

“I got into this profession over 20 years ago to be able to help my community and my patients. I now have more opportunit­y to do that every day and to develop even stronger relationsh­ips with my patients along the way. It’s a good feeling,” Tulk says.

 ?? PEXELS ?? Pharmacist­s in Newfoundla­nd and Labrador have more responsibi­lities and can assist patients with even more needs than before, many of them for free.
PEXELS Pharmacist­s in Newfoundla­nd and Labrador have more responsibi­lities and can assist patients with even more needs than before, many of them for free.

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