The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Patience…patients!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:41 pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ya know, the Pharmacy Chick may be getting old, and maybe 22 in the biz has made me take a lot less crap than I used to, and perhaps those few strands of grey hair popping out of my scalp is allowing me to get away with more crap than I should. For all intents and purposes, some jerk could have caused trouble for me if he went to the store manager, cuz I talked back. But, he deserved it.

Don isn’t known for his kindness or patience. How his wife puts up with him is beyond me.  My intern went to find the rx he wanted for his wife and it wasn’t ready. It needed to be checked, as she had called in her refill only an hour or so before.  She told him it needed to be checked and then asked if this was the only rx he wanted or if she had more than one.. Instead of listening to what the intern asked, he just kept shouting his wife’s name. “MABEL JONES!” “MABEL JONES!” “I want Mabel Jones’s prescription!” He’s not hard of hearing, he is just a horse’s arse.

I had enough. I walked over and said “Hey, lets be friends!, she is trying to find out if this is the only one you wanted.” “You haven’t given us enough time to finish her order, and if you go home with one bottle and you were supposed to have two, you’ll have to come back and then you’ll really be mad!”

He bellowed “Well I dont feel very much like being nice today”.  I wasn’t backing down “Well, thats pretty clear , but you are gonna have to be if you want us to help you”.

Ya know what? I really don’t care how crappy the economy is, I don’t care if your underwear is in a bunch, if you lost your best friend, or even if the Dr just said you have 6 months to live. I am sick and tired of people being rude to those of us trying to help them. I know I have written about this before, but there needs to be an end to the culture of RUDENESS that has invaded every cell of our being.  We watch TV shows and people are rude, we see the news and people are rude. I see rudeness in checkstands, in restaurants, on the streets, in traffic, everywhere… People think their crappy circumstances gives them the right to play the victim and allows them carte blanche to be nasty to other people. Guess what?  It doesn’t!  Whether it be the waiter serving you drinks at the corner bistro, the technician changing your oil, or the pharmacist filling your prescription: Cool your jets!  The last time I checked, the earth did not revolve around your sorry butt and nobody died and left you Heaven and Earth to bow at your command.

Is this a side effect of our urban lifestyle?  When I go home to my small midwestern town, I feel like I am washing off a dirty film of city grime off my psyche.  People behave different.

I couldn’t sit there and let this guy berate my intern. She hadn’t done anything less than try to make sure he had exactly what he wanted.

Service doesn’t mean slave.

Prescription Redux :who is inventing new drugs?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:14 pm on Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just an observation:

Have you ever looked at the drugs being pumped out of big pharma lately?  They are following the  habits of TV and movies: take an old classic, and make a big budget production out of it…and hope we are suckers enough to buy it.

 Personally, I am holding out for the 21 century Gilligan’s Island…and No, don’t tell me its “Lost”.

What is new?  What is innovative?  And, if it is, do they have to make a trillion dollars in profit the first year on the market? 

How does the rep detail Pristiq with a straight face?  How about Invega? or any CR/XL/SR formulation of something going off patent?

Do we really need a 5th formulation of metformin/combo?  Does Diaper rash really deserve a $200 tube of cream that contains Zinc oxide and miconazole? And how many varieties/salts of Minocycline/doxycycline do we really need?  We’ve gone thru 3 levels of wellbutrin (regular, SR and XL). shall we go for once weekly like the failed Prozac weekly.  Sheesh, Chick, dont give them any ideas!!

Today I about spit out my snack when I opened the PowerPak and saw and ad for (drumroll please….)  Moxatag-once daily amoxicillin 775mg that will cost approximately $200 per bottle.  Yea, I suppose taking 400-500mg  TWICE daily for pennies per day is SUCH A HASSLE for everybody.

I’m just thinking out loud…..

Is there any hope for a new drug that has a real advantage over existing entities at a reasonable price?

Stumbling down memory lane at Facebook

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 4:50 pm on Sunday, March 8, 2009

I started this post a few weeks ago, then filed it away in “drafts”.  Recently a member on my blog roll wrote a similar post.  Its either supreme coincidence or telepathic plagarism, and considering the fact he neither knows me or cares that he is on my blogroll, I am going with coincidence.

It started with an “invitation” from my cousin.  She wanted to be my “friend” and invited me to do so by clicking on a link.  Funny, I had always figured we were friends so I didn’t see why I needed to click on a link to confirm so.  Nevertheless I did and it launched me to Facebook.  Since being her friend involved me signing up to be on Facebook also, I backed out and forgot all about it….till she invited me again, with a little more personal note extolling the virtues of Facebook. “we can keep up at our leisure!”

 What the he**, fine, I’ll jump in and join the group. I figured it might be a cute way to keep in touch with my cousin and her family.

And then….I mentioned it to one of my friends from church…”OH! you’re on Facebook?”  “You can be my friend too!”.  Soon she invited me to be her friend…and then there were 2.

Here’s the interesting thing about Facebook (FB):  any friend can see a list of all your friends. 

 Apparently my church loves FB. Everybody who goes to my church, has ever been to my church, or has ever driven by my church has a FB page. And since Friend-2 added me, all of HER friends saw ME.  Whoa,  within about 24 hours, I had something like 30 friend requests.  The odd thing was, that I didn’t know all of these people…let me rephrase that…I knew OF these people, but not personally met all of them. But they are my friend now. I am up to 43.

Since I updated some school information, I noticed that FB offered me some “people I might know”.  Up until recently, I ignored this by focusing on those people who ASKED to be my friend and finding a few family members, most of which were on Mr Chick’s side of the family.  Apparently most of MY family hasn’t discovered FB.  One evening I succumbed and looked at some of FB’s suggestions.  Most of which were classmates from high school,  the POPULAR kids.

One thing you might wanna know about Pharmacy Chick:  she was not among this group.  Having no money, no car of my own, and being gifted with intelligence but not looks (apparently), I was part of the great-unwashed. I scanned thru these FB people and still had that same awkward uncomfortable feeling I had too many years ago.  I went thru high school on the fringe, moving anonymously from class to class, getting educated, but never breaking into their group. Graduating was huge for me. I was done..good bye..never to return.

I did however find one gal that was sort of a friend of mine in school.  We roomed together on some school trips and while she was definitely one of the popular kids, she would at least remember me.  I asked her to be my friend, and a couple of days later, I received acknowledgement that she had confirmed it.  Great!. I sent her a message with the basic content of: “hey, whats up, its been about 30 years, love to catch up with ya, let me know and I’ll send you more info!”  Well, its been almost a month, and no answer.

One person asked to be my friend. A most unconventional guy in school, best described as fringe/funky/musical type, I had no idea he even knew I existed, and I told him that. “We didn’t exactly have the same circle of friends” I wrote. “As it turns out, I didnt have a circle of friends” was his reply. I am not completely sure what he was saying, but we are now Facebook friends.  He seems perfectly delightful, and lives about 2 hours away.

Its been a long intro to this part of the story:

He went to the 20th class reunion and posted pictures…a lot of them.  I have gone to MR Chick’s reunions because he loved his youth.  I have vowed to never attend one of mine.  I envision myself sitting in an auditorium decorated with school colors, holding a glass of punch talking to….Mr. Chick. I don’t think I am too off the mark either. I looked at all the pictures he posted and they were pretty much all the people I was never friends with: The football players, cheerleaders, class officers, popular kids, etc. 

I made the right decision. I took out my Class year book the other day and scanned the pictures.  It had been many years since I opened that book..

What surprised me was how the photos still evoked the same uncomfortable emotions..30 years later. Its not like I have dwelled on it. I rarely if ever think about high school, but clearly they remain. Its weird.

I don’t miss that part of my life because there wasn’t much to miss I guess.  I appreciate my new funky friend for posting the pictures. It was an affirmation that moving on was the right thing for me, and going back is not an option.

FB, for me, will be an avenue to keep up with my present. My past can lie fairly undisturbed.

Do you have any Facebook stories you’d like to tell?

When the provider becomes the patient.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:00 pm on Friday, March 6, 2009

“In sickness and in health”.  Who hasn’t heard those words before?  When you marry somebody, you promise to put up with them until you die…or they do.  Despite the well known fact that half of all marriages end in divorce, its clear that the wedding vows aren’t really vows for many people.  For the Chick family, however, they are just that:vows– Irrevocable promises to each other. 

For the most part Pharmacy Chick and Mr Chick have been the epitome of good health.  Other than usual seasonal ailments, there haven’t been any occasions to need the assistance of any medical personnel other than me. Both of us are quite happy with this arrangement.

Recently however the winds shifted. Mr Chick may BE a headache sometimes (haha), but he rarely HAS headaches.  Over the last several weeks, however, he has been suffering from exertional headaches, some of which have been terribly painful, and the ache never goes away completely.  Oddly enough its not every type of exertion, but just certain ones.  Since he had some sinus issues simulaneously, we thought it was probably related.  A Dr phone call, and 2 antibiotics later, nothing has changed. Dr. said “Its time to get some images”.

Suddenly the Chick becomes the patient…well Mr Chick does…but Pharmacy Chick isn’t missing any part of this, we are in it together.  We begin the processes: The scheduler, the waiting room, the exam room that needed a few more degrees of heat, the wait to preauthorize the tests Dr. orders. The nurse tells us her first call to his insurance claims he couldn’t be found as an insured, but a second one ‘finds’ him. (good thing, I never knew he was lost) They agree upon the terms of the tests IF they are done at TubeO’Wonders MRI up the street.

Tube O Wonders checks Mr Chick in, but there needs to be clarification, and the office is closed. Damn, we live 30 miles away, but we know the Dr is still there.  We have an ace in the hole: We’re friends with the Dr’s wife and know her phone number…and SHE knows the Dr’s cell phone number.  20 minutes later the issue is resolved and Mr Chick is escorted in to see if indeed he has a brain and if its working properly. ( One needs to keep a sense of humor).

I was left to sit in the waiting room with 50 magazines and the most uncomforable chairs on the planet.  Clearly they don’t want people getting too relaxed.   My magazine selection was limited to two kinds: fitness magazines describing  ways to lose weight or cooking magazines with ways to keep me fat.  (what I need is a magazine that combines the 2: “eating your way thin…” )

Forty-five minutes later Mr Chick appears. I am tired and he is tired.  Its been over 5 hours since we left home. He asks the technician who escorted him out “everything look ok?” and he tells him “we can’t tell you anything–it will go to your Dr’s office”.  I suppose that makes sense, he takes the pictures, he doesn’t analyze them, but still, we wonder. Is there some big aneurysm he saw and can’t tell or was it just another normal head?  Neither of us likes this side of health care.  We fear the worst and hope for the best.

We get to endure the long painful weekend wait for results.

Information is power,  not knowing is hard. It makes me feel good about the efforts I make at my own job to keep patients informed. I return phone calls.  If I dont have information, sometimes I will call a patient just to tell them, I am still on the job and they are not forgotten but their situation has not been resolved. I am just one cog in their health care machine. No news is just that…no news..a limbo of sorts. 

We are hoping for the best.  I kinda like that Mr Chick.

Economic effects: putting a face on it.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:09 pm on Friday, March 6, 2009

There’s no denying that the economy sucks.  It doesn’t take an expert in a fancy suit and tie to go on cable and tell me that. One look at my pathetic 401K is enough to remind me that much of what I have worked for the last 21 years has evaporated into thin air.  It certainly has effected my future–Unless we have a miraculous recovery,  the Chick family will have to work considerably longer before we retire.

Ironically, my present has been less affected.  I still have a job, and I pay all my bills. I still save. I haven’t had to have a pay cut (tho I doubt I will see a raise for awhile).  In fact, I am pretty comfortable that I will never be downsized, especially since there are 13 full time Rph positions open in my company just in my metro area alone. Still, even tho our sales and numbers are constant, hours cuts are headed our way for our techs.  this confuses me. Same sales…same numbers, less hours. go figure. We barely keep our heads above the torrent of work already and now I get to do it all with less.  Maybe they should reconsider giving away $ 5,000 a month (just my store alone) in gift cards for transfers. Hey, just a thought..then maybe I would have been able to keep my technicians.

“Present” and “Future”…2 words that invite a lot of discussion right now.  Unfortunately, there are too many people whose “present” is very perilous.  I thought one of my customers would cry when she found out I had used a manufacturer freebie coupon on her prescription. Saved her $60.  She gave us a new address…cuz she just left her house that was foreclosed in November.

A different customer came in, perky as always, to pick up her birth control. A sadness in her eyes betrayed the truth.  I asked her how things were. “Not so good actually, both my husband and I were laid off this week. If it werent’ for my mom, we’d have no place to live, we can’t pay the rent anymore.”. She is the quintessential unskilled laborer. It wasn’t her first lay off, probably not her last..she was very pragmatic about it.

“I retired last year, and now I need to find a job. My 401k lost too much to keep me afloat”. I didn’t ask what he did, but now likely is a 66 yr old guy gonna go out and reclaim his old job?

The woman whose profile spills over with brand name meds (per her request) asks “how can I reduce my prescription costs now? I lost my insurance.”

Everyone of these people has a face to these comments. You can’t see them, but I can. Their “present” is in so much peril that they cannot think about “future”. They are nervous, scared, or both.  For some, they lived too high on the hog, didn’t save for the rainy day they were sure would never come, and bought houses they knew they couldn’t afford. But as the declining economy swept these people into its murky waters, many unsuspecting and faultless others were taken in its wake.

They are walking a tight rope with no safety net.  I’m not gonna lie, I still dont LIKE my job most of the time. It frustrating at times, un-nerving at others and since I have to deliver the bad news to my techs, I like it even less right now.  I am however grateful for it, despite the fact its about to get very difficult.  Its better than pounding the pavement looking for jobs that don’t exist.  Its better than looking at a checkbook with no money in it.  Its better than wondering when the bank will take the house back.  Its better than all of those. 

I am not taking it for granted. A recent article stated that health care was one of the few industries that is not experiencing a retraction  because of the economy.  People will still get sick. They will still need to see drs, get xrays, lab work, surgeries, and get their prescriptions filled.  This will never change.  Or will it?

I’ll tell you one thing, there is no shortage or decline in the numbers of welfare scripts we see. “Goin to the dr” is alive and well within this segment. I guess its easy to see why. Its”free” (aka-on you and me).  But for the under insured, recently laid off or reduced labor workforce, they are looking twice at office and rx copays.  Maybe they will wait too long to see the dr.  Maybe they won’t go at all. I dunno.  All I know is that I still have plenty to do… for a lot of people… and for many of them,  they have fewer dollars in their pockets.

Facing some tough times and wishing I worked from home

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 12:04 am on Thursday, March 5, 2009

I wish I could say I understood all things.  When times are good, everybody is dancing around, tossing accolades “oh we are so wonderful” and giving us coupons for 10% off store purchases.  Not to be confused with gifts of REAL value, like OH…..MONEY…but little “certificates of achievements” and a few “attaboys”.  If you looked at my store numbers, its all about the same.  Our numbers are good, our sales have held remarkably well, we have more profit this year than same time last year.

Its all not good enough.

The company laid the gauntlet down and cut hours…no, not hours of operation…Labor hours.  They have axed 1 full time tech. This amounts to 33% of my tech force.  The new WorkforcePlatform, whatever that is. Workerless Platform if you ask me.  We also “get” to reduce RPH overlap from 9 hours a week to 4. For 1 day each week (4 hours) I will get to work with another pharmacist.  Five days a week I work with 1 technician, operating a drop off window, a pick up window, 4 computers, AND 4 phone lines. I remember a few years ago they introduced something called the workflow.  It had 5 stations…for 5 people.

Looks like I need to clone myself 4 times. 

Ya know, if I believed for one minute that this was a reaction to declining sales, I’d be all over it, but with our numbers (the black and white proof) all good, I’d say somebody found their brass ring excuse.

They somehow said with a straight face that our customers “will see” no change in operation. Wanna Bet?

For a company who likes to say how different they are from Big Boxes, they sure are trying to be one.

Shall I take my life now? or wait til the job kills me?

Actually Its time to look at a new path.  Ole? are ya hiring?

Note to self: Do not edit whilst in a hurry!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:47 am on Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If you notice, a post is missing.  Its gone and I cannot get it back and I have nobody to blame but myself.

I was looking at my most recent post about my 2 techs and the story about the sweater and I saw some spelling errors.  Deciding on the fly to fix them quickly before work, I hopped into edit mode and fixed my errors, hit save ( or so I thought) and acknowleged it. 

Well, “save” and “delete” are right next to each other and the very second I acknowledged my “save” I realized I was actually acknowledging my “delete”!!  C.R.A.P.  It was gone. I couldn’t undo it.

I suspect about everybody read it, cuz it had been there for a few days, but If you missed, it, I apologize.  I must be more careful.  I may try to re write it but since I am late for work already….it will have to wait.

ciao!

People generally good? not exactly. Neither are Corporations.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:50 pm on Sunday, March 1, 2009

I got into a discussion the other day with one of my technicians.  She is one of those new wavers.  Somehow the discussion moved into the subject of whether people are generally good…or bad.  She believes that people are generally good, and I believe that goodness is a learned behavior and that if left to our own devices, people are generally bad.

I had chance to make my point yesterday.

I recently hired another technician and she has 3 kids, one of which is 3 years old.  She told me this story:

She went to visit her family out of state, about a 2 hour drive from here.  On her way out of town (to come back), she took the 3 yr old to a department store to pick up a few things and her daughter zeroed  in on a sweater she liked.  Her mother said no, and told her to put it back.  She purchased her items and left for home. When she arrived home, she picked up her girl and noticed she was a little bulkier than normal and realized that she had a sweater under her coat.  Not immediately recognizing it, she asked her if she got it at gramma’s house or the day care. When she pulled it off, however, she saw the tags hanging off it, and knew what her daughter had done.  Despite being told no, she stuffed the sweater under her coat and took it.

A couple of days later Mom tried to return it at a local outlet of the same chain but was told (!?!?) that she could not return it, but to take it to the original store.  She explained what her daughter had done. She wasn’t asking for money, she just wanted to return an item that hadn’t been paid for.  Incredulously, the store didn’t want the sweater, and she wasn’t going to drive 130 miles to return it, so she donated it to charity.  “There was no way I was letting her keep it..where did she learn to steal?”

I knew this was an object lesson to what I was saying to my OTHER tech the previous week.  I answered her question. ” See, she is being normal.  If left her her own devices, she will be selfish, steal and be a brat. People are naturally self centered and greedy.  Honesty and integrity are learned behaviors.  Your daughter did what she thought she could get away with, being sneaky and stealing the sweater.  She has not learned yet to be honest for the sake of doing what is right. By not letting her keep the sweather and disiplining her for stealing, she will learn that stealing is wrong and unacceptable.”

My new-wave tech said nothing.

For me its just a reminder that any part of me that is good doesn’t come from my nature, but from the lessons my mother taught me and the goodness imparted by God. I’ve had a tough couple of days, dealing with some corporate issues that I do not agree with. I am angry and my nature wishes a painful pox upon our head honcho. I my change where I work.  It certainly changes how I feel about where I work.

I always believed that a job well done is its own reward. Doing your best and having high integrity are attributes I hold dear. When I came here I gave them my body and my spirit (presence and attitude).  For a company who locally has double digit unfilled pharmacist positions, they clearly do not seem to want to intice pharmacists to work for them.  Whether I stay 2 months, 2 years or more,  They may have my presence (body) in the store, but they no longer have my spirit or respect.

I have to deal more effectively with the plate of crap I have been fed recently and decide how I better behave.

God knew about the plate of crap.  Only He can equip me to take care of it better than I have to date.

But Mr Honcho can still get a painful pox and I wouldn’t care….not today anyway.

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