The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

More transfers from the dark side!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:54 am on Friday, July 31, 2009

Once again we have decended down the road of offering bribes (er, gift cards) to steal each other’s business.  To nobody’s surprise, it brings out the more colorful people….

“Hello, I’d like to use your coupon and transfer this prescription.” Sure, what pharmacy is it at?  “Not sure, its been a while” Well, I have to have the name of the pharmacy and its phone number to call and transfer it. “Well, I don’t have it, Can’t you just look it up in your computer?” sir, we dont have a data base of every prescription  filled in the city…only our own. If you dont have a prescription to transfer we cannot honor your coupon “Well!, then I’ll just ask my dr to call you!” Sorry, the coupon is only for transferred prescriptions,  we will be happy to fill a prescription for you, but again, we cannot honor the offer since it doesn’t meet the criteria…” “What a crock”…click.

“Hi, my name is Ruth Ruthless and I wanna transfer my Cozaar to you.”  We collect all the information. We transfer the prescription…it has no refills. we get the refills, and we fill the prescription and call the patient to tell her its ready. Ruth, I notice we do not have information about your insurance, do you have any drug insurance?  “yes, I have medicare-d”.  Are you aware that we are not allowed to offer gift cards to Medicare enrolees?  Its stated on the coupon face. “WHAT?!? I always use these coupons!”  Not here,  its federally prohibited and we do not want to incur any fine from the govt.  “what if I pay cash?”  Then its over $200. “I only paid $20 last time”  (obviously from the slow class…) that was on your insurance..you cannot use both your insurance and receive a gift card.  “Well, just cancel the whole thing, I’ll get it filled someplace else who WILL give me a card”..thank you and have a nice day…

Lord…spare me

Stupid people on the voice recorder

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:49 pm on Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We, like every other pharmacy on the planet has a voice recorder for after hours messages.  Its pretty self-explanatory.  Leave a message….leave your phone number…we will call you back…

Apparently not so much.

“hello!!  HELLO? Is there anybody IN there?  “Goddammit, I know you are in there”…left at 3 am.  There is NO body in there.

“Hi, your machine said my prescription will be ready at 2 pm tomorrow.  I need it now” Left on a sunday after closing…no name, no number…good luck with that.

“Hello, thisisrhondaandersonandIneedarefillofeverythingIhaveonfileexceptthemetformin

IhaveenoughofthatandIneedextravicodinbecauseIamgoingonvacationfirstthingtomorrowand

mydrisonvacaationsocallmydentisthesaidhe’dgivemeanythingiwantmyphonenumberis

(toofast to record)”  She didn’t get anything she wanted by “first thing tomorrow”.

“SH*T, they are closed!  I told you woman to call earlier…(and the berating went on for a minute before he realized he hadn’t hung up yet).

“Hey its Louise, can we meet for coffee after work?”  (nobody in the pharmacy claims to know any Louise who wants to drink coffee”

Hello, its Tom Johnson,  I need a refill on my Ambien (left at 1 am)…no kidding??

(I wish I had saved this one for posteritiy) “Hello, this is Ann Smith and I want to know what kind of Joker Operation you are running over there. I got home today and see you have shorted my vicodin by 10 pills. I demand to know the name of your boss and your boss’s boss because you are all going down.  You rip old people off and if it wasn’t for my diligent accounting, You’d be ripping me off too.  (and on it went with threats of lawsuits and screaming)..then click.    ONE minute later  the next message was ” Hello, this is Ann Smith.  Please disregard the previous message…I found my pills.” click.  not even an “Im sorry”…

sigh…..

Taking a more conservative stance on swine flu.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:05 am on Sunday, July 26, 2009

I was reading the news today and found the Europe is fast-tracking the swine flu vaccine as to get it available sooner than normal.  PC is all for vaccinations, and if you have been a loyal reader for awhile, you know that I give thousands of shots each year.  THAT being said however, all of those shots have been properly tested prior to distribution.

Pharmacy Chick isn’t completely convinced that we need a fast-tracked vaccine for swine flu.  As it has been reported,  this flu, while rather virulent, isn’t particularily deadly. In fact, most people have recovered nicely and many of those that have perished (not to diminish that some HAVE died) have been more succeptible to illness. 

We have already seen the impact of unintended consequences of drugs that have side effects noted long after introduction: Bextra, Vioxx, Rezulin, etc.  But when we inject a vaccine, we cannot UN-inject it.  Its in there, and immediately upon injection starts doing its work.  I am firmly of the stance that properly manufactured and tested vaccines are the only ones we should be confident in distributing.  In fact,  we should never produce ANYthing fast tracked for general distribution.  If you want to run a trial on the med for diseased patients, fine. But safety should be first in all circumstances.

No short cuts,  No fast tracking. 

And, THAT is how I stand.

Certain places are better than others.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:39 pm on Saturday, July 25, 2009

Because PC works in a city, its an environment with varied (shall we say) personalities that populate its streets and byways.  PC works in suburbia.  We have a pretty clean mix of the rich, the middle class, and the poor.  Yea, we get our seekers and pond scum like any other pharmacy, but for the most part, we see a decent cross section of middle America. 

The other day I had the opportunity to head down town.  Pharmacy Chick hates “downtown” for several reasons.  First off, I hate only seeing sky when I look straight up.  Its the most claustrophobic feeling wandering the streets where the buildings tower over me.  Second, I am a person who gets lost fighting my way out of a paper bag.  Going downtown meant (for me) mapquesting my destination, and verifying that I can reach Point A and still get home without taking a route much different than I took getting there.  Its a confusing mash of one ways, construction that goes on for years, a train system imbedded in the street (GET OUT OF THE WAY…the TRAIN is COMING), and a bus system that has to be run by retired Nazi officers. Third,  I really don’t care for the people that populate  “downtown”.  Its like a steaming, teeming human ant-farm during the middle of a weekday.  They are everywhere!

Since I grew up in a town of about 70,000, “downtown” meant CENTRAL AVE.  Up town, meant “the Mall”.  Downtown was filled with shops and above them were cruddy apartments in the oldest buildings the town had.  A nondescript dark door between the stores would be the only sign that something was above these stores.  The Mall, was “the Mall” a conglomerate of stores anchored by Sears at one end and Penny’s at the other. It wasn’t huge and it took maybe 5 minutes of brisk walking to get from one end to the other. In none of these places did we have loiterers and beggars.

The downtown I have now is daunting to me.  Street performers banging on white buckets trying to catch some of your change,  homeless people hoping to snag the rest of it.  Many are shameless about asking for it, and it makes me fearful to even be down there by myself. I had to meet a friend for dinner.  We walked around.  I was glad I wasn’t alone.  In all of this mess is one of our stores.  Its the only store that has a police officer at the door, and the restrooms are locked for everybody.  Above the store are expensive condos.  You can have your groceries brought from the grocery store next door to YOUR door and never leave your home.  I talked with the Brett, pharmacist at the downtown locale.  “WarZone” is what he calls the store.  Since he has to pay for parking, he quit driving there and takes the train. 

Hmm, I thought about that for a minute.  What if somebody followed him out?  No safety of a car… Brave man.  The mentally handicapped are dumped on the streets and end up in his pharmacy.  They arent’ stable.  Those that haven’t fallen completely thru the cracks have state welfare. Many of the homeless (by choice or not) wander around, hoping somebody is sucker-enough to toss them a dollar or so.

Not today buddy,  and Brett:  Watch your back ok?  I think I will quietly retreat to my suburbian pharmacy…and shut up.

I must matter to some.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:09 pm on Friday, July 24, 2009

It must have been “love your pharmacist” week.  I don’t know where it came from but I received a host of lovely compliments about me and my contributions to the store I work in.  This came at a crucial time for me because as you know, I struggle with the joy in my job (there isn’t any) and whether I really make a difference in the long run.

One lady came in and after picking up her rx said “Pharmacy Chick, I want to tell you something…you make my life easier. I never have to worry about  my prescriptions…and that is a huge relief for me”  I never thought about that.  For somebody who doesn’t take much more than heartburn and allergy meds, I don’t think much about those who have LOTS of meds.  They make several trips to the pharmacy a month, sometimes a couple of times weekly.  Many have rx’s that need a Dr ok every month.  Others are special orders.  Some have complicated ordering procedures or sigs.  I am grateful that she told me that.  It warmed my heart.

Later a lady came in with her mother. “OH, Am I glad to see you!!  We were afraid you had left!, you have been gone much this month!”  (I have taken some vacation in July)… I told her that as long as she sees the picture on the wall, I am coming back.  She said  “I checked that picture every time I came in, so I knew you had to be coming back…PLEASE, never leave!  ”  Wow.  That blew me away.  They are great people, but certainly not high maintenance.  Again,  it came out of the blue. 

A day later a man came in and after I counseled him on his rx, he said  “Chick,  it is certainly nice to see you here.   Everything is ok when I know you are here”.  Geez, what is this?

These things gave me reason to go on.  Labor cuts, stress, longer work days…all of these chip away at my morale.  I have been jerked around by corporate lately so much so that I wonder if I could ever stand up straight again.  But here I am, still gutting it out.  I realize I want to help people.  I like helping people.  I hate corporate CRAP.  I dont give a flying sh*t about their labor models, their programs, their coupons, their machinations that beat me up.  And despite the losers who try to con controlled subs out of us, I realize it repeats itself at every pharmacy in the nation.

When it comes right down to the basic components, I want to help people live better. 

And for that, Thanks to those customers who lifted my spirit.

Zzzzzzz

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:10 am on Friday, July 24, 2009

Sorry haven’t written in a while, but PC has a case of writers block trying to find something interesting and witty..and got a million things going on at home…but fear not… (or be fearful)  she’ll come up with something…like the question I fielded Monday:

PC “Here are your promethazine suppositories” (and I gave instructions)

customer:  “um, if I dont want to use them like that, will they work if I eat them?”

You do not want to know the visual I had put together on that one….

A most excellent read.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:44 am on Saturday, July 18, 2009

If you haven’t already seen my blog roll,  it would be a great time to click on Dr Grumpy.  He’s written about his most recent vacation in about 10 installments.  I highly recommend it as side-splitting experience. 

I’d like to vacation with the Grumpy family as merely an observer. 

Go Grumpy!

All I wanted to do was pee!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:12 am on Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The only time I ever get real peace is when I go to the bathroom.  For a couple of precious moments I piddle in private and quiet. Sometimes I will just sit and enjoy the quiet for an extra minute.  One day I popped into the bathroom.  I was in the first stall and the third stall was occupied.  I piddled successfully and flushed. As I was about to exit, the lady in the 3rd stall spoke out “help me!”.

“Um, Do you need help standing up?” I asked.  It was an older lady who replied “No!, my hemorrhoid has fallen out, I need somebody to put it back in”.  I was taken aback. I wanted to walk out. NO WAY was I sticking my finger into her rumpus.  I said “ma’am, I will call an ambulance for you, I will call a family member for you, but I cannot do what you just asked me to do”.

The lady told me she would try to  “reach it” and I told her again, that I would call medical care for somebody for her but she declined.

And so I left.

Note to self:  Find an empty bathroom next time.

A theft of trust, a loss of innocence.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:50 pm on Sunday, July 12, 2009

I don’t know where I am going with this story, but its one I wanted to write for a while. 

Several years ago Mark was a technician of mine on a part time basis.  He worked for me on Fridays and Sundays and he worked at another store on mondays and thursdays. (this matters) The rest of the week he floated around. He was every pharmacists version of a perfect technician:  He was fast and accurate, he was easy to get along with and he never missed a shift.  What else could you ask for?

Because we worked together on a lot of Sundays, we had the chance to talk quite often. We couldn’t have been more different had it been scripted.  My upbringing was Leave it to Beaver and his was like a bad episode of The Simpsons.  He told me of his alcoholic mother, his absent father and his drug addict ( and incarcerated) brother.  He moved out of his home when he was 15, and had been on his own ever since. He rented a bedroom from a friend of his. He said he didn’t need much space since he was never home anyway.

I loved the summer and he loved the winter.  In fact, he would work as much as he could in the summer so he could fund his passion: snowboarding and skiing.  For me, snow is just something to be shoveled and wished away.  He also loved all things Asian, also not my style.  He wanted to travel to or live in Thailand. In fact, one of our terminals at the store still has a desktop picture that mysteriously shows up now and then of some bay in Thailand.  I cannot get rid of it, and I still do not know how he put it there since he didn’t have administrative rights on that terminal.

He finally got to go to Thailand and once back, he talked about the place like it was heaven on earth. 

He was smart…and a bit of a smart ass…and one day it all started to catch up with him.

One day we got a call from the other store Mark worked in. She asked to speak with Mark.  I didn’t get to hear all of the conversation, only bits and pieces: “No, I didn’t see that in the order” “I must have missed the invoice” “Sorry about that,I’ll be more careful”.  I asked him specifically what happened. He told me that the pharmacist had an invoice for a drug that she didn’t order.   He had checked everything in but didn’t see that they were shorted that item because it was on a separate invoice.

The pharmacist didn’t let that ball drop however.  Since the invoice was for a controlled substance in a package size they didn’t normally carry, she decided to investigate.  What she found out started an avalanche.  Mark had ordered the product over the phone, the previous day.  Only he wasn’t working there the day he ordered it. He was working someplace else. The wholesaler records all the orders and includes the date, time and who placed the order.  Because Mark had ordered a 500ct bottle, she was alerted to this discrepancy. They never carried it in a 500ct size.

Mark was a thief: a highly clever one, but still a thief. He had written down the account numbers of several stores. Then, on the day before he was scheduled to work at a store, he would call the wholesaler and order bottles of diazepam and Hydrocod/APAP.  Then, on the next day, he would ticket the order, file or trash the invoice and  none would be the wiser.  He also knew who worked when, so that when he placed his phone orders, it was on a day that a different pharmacist was working from the day before.  He knew that If Greg worked thursday then Marcia worked friday and she wouldn’t neccessarily know what Greg used the day before. 

I was sickened by the accusations.  I had liked Mark and now I had to keep this quiet investigaion  under my hat until they found more evidence.  It didnt’ take long. They had every store he commonly worked in print usage records and compare it to purchases.  My store alone had about a 4000 tab discrepancy of Hydrocod/APAP-5/500 alone over that 2 year period.  I was also missing about 2000 Diazepam 5mg.

Armed with all that information, the company sent security out to the store to interveiw Mark.  He politely went up to the office with them.  About a half hour later he sauntered back (alone), grabbed his coat, and said he had to go with them.  Five minutes later, one member of security came back and asked “Where’s Mark?”  “With you?” we answered.  Apparently the men of Security aren’t brain trusts.  They let Mark go and get his coat unescorted and he bolted. 

I never saw him again.  

Reports were filed, procedures were altered, and eventually the fallout settled on the incident.  Somebody asked me why I didn’t notice I was missing narcotics?  I almost laughed in their face. “We go thru something like 2000+ Hydrocod/Apap tabs a WEEK around here.  2000×52 weeks is 104,000 tabs a year.   Thats 208 bottles a year, or 416 bottles over a 2 year span. 4000 tabs is a lot of tabs, but it represented only 1.9%  of what we actually dispensed over that 2 year span.  It averaged 166 tabs per month.

I liked him, but he violated our trust.  Somebody said he moved to Thailand,  somebody else thought they saw him on the east side of town. I don’t care. 

Its been years.  Techs have come and gone.  I’d prefer to trust every one of them, but I cannot and don’t want to watch them day and night.  Even I have to take a bathroom break now and then. I have learned that if a person wants to steal, they will.  For every measure intended to stop theft, there will be another way around it.   I once said, “if you want to stop stealing then we have to practice naked and everything in the pharmacy has to be transparent.”

Know what? I am sure somebody would find a way.

Lost a friend today.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:22 am on Thursday, July 9, 2009

It was a life worth living for my friend.  He was an amazing fellow. He loved his wife and his family, but most of all he loved the Lord.  My faith is but a drop in the bucket compared to the faith he lived out in his life.  Melanoma cut his life woefully short, a battle fought hard but lost.  Today he said goodbye to the temporal and said hello to the eternal.  Goodbye my friend,  you have lots of people who will care for what you have left behind but we know that someday we will all be reunited in Joy.

If you say a prayer, pray for his wife and daughters.  They have lost much.

And to you my friend, we rejoice you are with Jesus as we speak.

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