The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Is there REALLY no such thing as a dumb question?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:17 pm on Monday, June 27, 2011

I just love Mondays, always the hustle and bustle of activities, multi tasking like the pro that I am, and fielding questions on all subjects from fruit to nuts..literally.

My first customer of the day asked the technician a question that she came over to me and said ” Chick?  I think this guy wants to know if the band-aid he is wearing is a good one….”

What?

So I go over and this 50ish guy has a flexible fabric type bandage wrapped around his finger covering what appears to be some kind of cut. He sticks his finger in my face and asks.  “my neighbor put this on my cut.  Is this the preferred bandage for this kind of cut or should I use something else?”. I gathered he had been doing some work at his neighbor’s house, cut his finger, and received this wrapping.

For a moment I thought he was kidding and was nano-seconds from saying something like ” No, you should be wearing  a Hello Kitty or Spiderman bandage”.  but the very miniscule sober side of me held me back.

“No, sir, that bandage is just fine as long as it covers the wound and you keep it clean. Since his neighbor told him to buy Bactine, he did exactly as he was told, and bought some more flexible fabric bandages and went on his way.

I still think the Spiderman bandages were cuter.

And despite all, we are still sitting ducks!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:09 pm on Sunday, June 26, 2011

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43536286/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

the above link is to a most interesting and disturbing article about the increasing rise in pharmacy robberies, more and more with deadly results. I was also a little disturbed by Mr Keith Hodges who comments at the very end of the article: he writes:

Some pharmacies are even considering installing bullet-proof windows like those found in many banks.

But Hodges, the Virginia pharmacist, worries that the security precautions are harming legitimate customers by lengthening the wait to fill prescriptions and eroding the relationship between pharmacists and patients.

If pharmacists are forced to work behind bulletproof glass, it will discourage customers from asking questions about their treatments, he said.

“The more a patient knows, the healthier they’re going to be in the long run,” Hodges said. “They need to have access to their pharmacist”

So its ok that pharmacists get killed so we can have shorter wait times and patients have access to us?  Sorry, I dont buy it. Terrorists got bolder and blew up planes and the industry reacted by tightening security.  Drug addicts are bolder and killing pharmacists and all Mr Hodges cares about is “access to the pharmacist”.

WTF! 

We live in a different world than we used to. Maybe its finally time that the business of pharmacy adapts to this time.  We have been operating the same basic pharmacy layout since the beginning of time.  We can’t do this anymore.

  Just ask the family member of the 4 people killed in Long Island.

My First Boss

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:47 pm on Friday, June 24, 2011

A strong statement:  My first boss was a liar and a cheat…and those were his redeeming characteristics.  He was also a complete crook.  He lived by his opinion that the end justified the means.  Sadly I learned this AFTER I had accepted the job, moved 2000 miles and worked for him for a while.  He believed that everybody was out to cheat him so his goal was to cheat you out of more that you would cheat him out of.   I’ll call him Ahab. His wife was Jezebel, and nearly as evil. They ran a pharmacy and gift shop.

I got a taste of his style shortly after I started the job.  I had been told I would make $x per hour.  My first paycheck had a wage base that was about $4 less than that.   I asked him about that and he said “Oh, that is your CASH money portion.  the rest is your BENEFITS”.  Funny, nobody else I was ever courted by split my salary like that.

He  opened his businesses during the golden age of pharmacy..everybody paid cash.  He felt coerced into accepting insurance and was offended when plans reduced his usual and customary. In retrospect, I can appreciate that.  When plans started offering  “discount” cards (as opposed to real insurance), Ahab refused to accept them. “They have no right stealing money from my back pocket” was his excuse.  I guess I cant argue with that either.

He said he gave us all “paid holidays”.  I even had it written on a piece of paper that he had given me during our initial negotiations.  I later found out what a paid holiday was in HIS world.  If a holiday was your day OFF, tough…if you were scheduled to work and the store was closed…then it was paid.  One year Christmas, New Years and Easter all fell on a Sunday… We were always closed on Sunday.

Once, I asked for a raise.  You’d have thought I had broken into the cash register and helped myself.  “Why, you and your husband make more money than 95% of the people in this city?”  Never mind the fact that I was probably the lowest paid pharmacist in town also.

I personally watched him bill insurance for brand medication and dispense generic.  He would often do it with liquids where it would be impossible to tell the difference.  Amoxicillin Susp, Septra, Phenergan w cod, etc.  Stuff like that.  Long before the days of requiring signatures for pick up, I watched him more than once do an “administrative fill”, his nomenclature for billing a script he never filled.  As I said, he was a crook. He would nearly pop a vein if somebody wrote a check that was returned NSF.  He would have us call the bank for a “verify funds” on every bad check until the check was covered then he would hand carry the check to the bank.

He was also intimidating.  Once somebody had failed to screw the lid on a bottle of a thousand Premarin 0.625mg.  The bottom dropped off the bottle when I grabbed the lid, crashing to the floor and hundreds of tablets went flying.  He heard it and came thundering down the hall from his office red faced and angry. “WHAT THE HELL…YOU SAVE EVERY ONE OF THOSE!” He would accuse us of giving the store away if we suggested discounting or offering merchandise on sale.

He hated sales. Jezebel ran the gift shop exactly the way Ahab ran the pharmacy.  When everybody else would mark Christmas 50% off after the holiday, she would box it up and try to save it for next year.  Invariably he would offer for sale tired and dated merchandise by digging up old past years stuff and try to sell it as new.About the only things they would ever put on sale was merchandise nearly unsaleable: shopworn or broken.

We also sold candy.  Candy that was out of date was set aside and the rep would give us credit.  He would deface the candy then say we (being employees) could help themselves to it.  If Ahab was around he would scoop up several of the defaced boxes then mark them “on sale”…completely against the candy-makers policy.

The only person he was generous with was himself.  If he wanted cash, the till was his personal ATM.  What did I know?  As sole proprietor it was ultimately HIS money but what he was really doing was skimming.  I kinda doubt he claimed those wads of cash he pocketed to his accountant, who was just as creepy as Ahab. They were really made for each other.

He had his friends tho.  His tennis buddies, and his other buddies from the town. Sometimes they would come in and say something like ” Man, He must be realy great to work for…!” WTF Seriously??  He really had them snowed…or he was a Jekyl-Hyde personality. 

After nearly 4 years I finally broke free.  I was unsure about moving to a corporation. It was a move I had to make however.  Ahab’s was in its death throes. My once-held hopes of owning Ahab’s and being a pharmacy owner myself would never materialize.  Big Box, Bigger Box, WrongAid, and the like were moving in and buying out every ” Ahab’s” around.  You either let them buy you or you let them kill you over time.

What made me write about Ahab today?  He came into PC pharmacy a few days ago.  He still posseses that  intimidating look that gives me a pit in my stomach that is slow to go away. 

I don’t miss him. But he no longer signs my paychecks.

And for that…I am grateful.

Annual employee benefits handout..

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:48 am on Monday, June 13, 2011

I recently was cleaning out my desk at work and found a copy (unopened) of our employee benefits handbook. Its a tome to say the least full of details that only the writer of the book has ever poured over. Each year we get one of these. I thought I might translate some of the content of the cover letter that was attached to it. (heavily paraphrased to protect the identity of the company)

Dear Valued Employee (since slavery is still illegal)

Congratulations on another year of employment with MegaCorp.. et al (translation:  consider yourself lucky to have a job you sorry sap, if we could pay you in food vouchers, we would).

Enclosed is your copy of the employee handbook.  Please read it carefully ( we have to say this but we know you wont even open it). Please note the modifications ( cuts ) made in certain benefits in health, welfare, disability, vacation and retirement policies.

The company is striving to keep current in all trends thruought the industry and did intensive studies across the board to assure that our benefits package is highly competitive with all other players in the industry (translation:  we are going to make darn sure you dont get one thing better than anybody else, if they hosed their employees, we will hose just as well this year).  The economy continues to lag as far as sales go but Mega Corp will continue to strive to be a leader in the marketplace and will do everything it can to maintain its marketshare and grow. (translation:  Our shareholders want their money, and we want to have our bonus and profits..and if we have to take it out of YOUR pocket, we will. and the economy is the PERFECT excuse to start chopping.  We think you are all overpaid idiots anyway).

As you know, health care costs are spiralling out of control, and at Mega Corp we have programs in place to help you manage your health care and its costs (translation: Hello big brother…we are watching you). By enrolling in these optional (for now) programs you can take control of your health and manage your health care dollars wisely.  In addition we have created certain(mandatory) company initiatives to reduce costs overall, including modifiying (cutting) the drug formulary, enhancing (cutting) the provider list and introducing a cost share program where you the employee has more control of how your health care dollars are spent (haha because we make you spend your money first….so it hurts you first! see if you head to the ER for that migraine now buddy)

Employees are our number ONE asset at Mega Corp( cant believe we actually wrote that with a straight face–you are Labor..our number 1 Liability–a controllable expense…but if you will fall for that crap, more power to us!) and without you we would be unable to serve our loyal customers (but with all of our new self check outs, pretty soon, most of you too will be obsolete..bye bye sucker). To date, MegaCorp has been able to stay strong in the market place without any significant reduction in work force and hopes to stay that way in the near future.( hear that?  that’s our layoff scare tactic..we love the word “significant”..of course we cut the work force..but who we cut wasn’t “significant”..heh heh)

Thank you for your years of valuable service. ( keep looking over your shoulder however)

Mr Prez ( my job is secure) of MegaCorp

Sneaky Manufacturer Move of the Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:17 am on Monday, June 13, 2011

Because PCP (Pharmacy Chick Pharmacy) has an automatic ordering system, I dont have to do a daily walk of the shelves or write down drugs as we use them for ordering. The computer in its not-so-infinite wisdom sets some kind of order point and once we reach it, the product is ordered.

Therefore it came to some surprise on Saturday that I noticed that my Synthroid section was looking a little bare. Yea, we use mostly generic but we still have a solid group of stalwarts who need (read: WANT) brand name Synthroid. Ok whatever…

I went and pulled a few invoices and noticed that all of them said “NDC rejected”…please reorder. I knew darn well that Synthroid had not been discontinued and so I went online looking for why they had assigned them a new ndc.

Clever devils have reduced the package size to 90….do you suppose they reduced the price by 10%? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

Abbott(or whatever you call yourselves this week)…you are lame.

And Levoxyl, you get to share in their lameness too. You used to be a credible substitute for Synthroid at a nice $$ savings. Now you are just as expensive. Shame on you too.

ABCD…ABCD

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:40 pm on Thursday, June 9, 2011

All I wanted was a vacation override. I’m still not sure why its MY job to obtain a vacation override for patients. I sure the hell am not the one getting on a plane to someplace warm and sunny. But I am sure working hard to make sure Mark and Donna get out of here with all of their pills.

I called A to get an override. They said they dont do O/R for this plan..call B. I called B and they said they only contract with C and C does their own overrides. I call C and they said the ADMINISTRATOR (D) will do it. I call D and they said “Huh? we dont do that!”.

I called A again and got seriously pissy. I told her to keep me on the line and SHE WILL CALL AND GET THE O/R or the proper person do DO IT FOR ME.
By the time we got to D again, she had the right person on the line and 40 minutes later I got the override. I told D-II what happened and she wanted to know the name of the person I spoke with.

” I have spoken with 5 different people in the last 40 minutes. good luck with that!”

I should get a T-shirt that says ” I busted my ass getting a vacation override for my Hawaii bound customer and all I got was this lousy shirt”.

Weekend+sunshine=boneheads with sunburns

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:10 pm on Thursday, June 9, 2011

Last weekend was phenomenal in Chickville, the first real warmth of the year. Out came the tank tops, the sleeveless shirts, the shorts and the bathing suits. It doesn’t take Karnac the great to figure out what happened next.

Monday morning they start filing in. Some asked where the Aloe Vera gel resides, others never bothered to ask, they just looked like somebody had sprayed them pink.

So tho I do not reveal where I live, you can probably guess its not Arizona. You would be correct.

I give the same answer to the people with sunburns as I do for those who ask what I recommend for hang-overs: dont get them in the first place. Not everybody appreciates that advice but I stick to it. Most of the youngins laugh about their pink shoulders, noses and cheeks and chests.

How can I say this more clearly: WTF WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN…EVERYTIME . I admired Eric, Pharmacists picture of the sun. If you see it, wear your sunscreen. Nice………..

Some of the customer complaints I listen to:
” Its sticky” Try DryTouch formulas, they work.
” I forgot it at home”…Buy some more
“I dont like how it feels”… You think having half your face cut out feels any better?
” I didn’t think I would burn”….YOU DIDNT THINK…

5 years ago my uncle died from Malignant Melanoma
3 years ago Mr Chick had Pre-melanoma removed from his back
2 years ago this week our keyboardist at our church died from Malignant Melanoma
1 year ago Mr Chick had Basal Cell Carninoma removed from his nose.

Who is laughing now?

Bring your fan and ice water.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:59 pm on Friday, June 3, 2011

Once upon a time there was a pharmacist who wanted to invite nearly every customer to take a very fast train straight to Hell.

To the customer who asked me to transfer some ‘cough medicine’ from a competitor and THEY tell me they dont have anything but Tylenol 3 for you, don’t get so friggin pissy when I make sure that we have the right drug. And how chicken shit of you to complain to the store manager accusing me of questioning your prescription. Personally, I dont care what you take, how you take it or what you take it FOR, I only care that I fill the right drug counsel you properly per the state regulations. If that is nosy or insensitive, well , take it up with the board of pharmacy.

To the customer who hands me a loyalty coupon for a product AFTER I have special ordered it for you and the loyalty coupon is for ONLY a different size of product, do you think I am clairvoyant? how about getting that coupon to me when you dropped off the rx so I could have been sure to order the right package size to meet your coupon requirement? And thanks for stomping off before I could offer to call a different pharmacy to see if they had it.

To the guy who wanted a shingles shot and was convinced that “covered” meant FREE? $45 is a copay…YOUR portion….No, YOU CALL them, I already transmitted the claim. Its a done deal. Take it or leave it.

To the loser behind the dark classes and long sleeves who wanted ” a ten-pak of u-100″ You aren’t fooling anyone by speaking loudly about needing to buy some sugar free cough syrup….which you somehow didn’t manage to buy despite me showing you two different brands and sizes.

And lastly to the man who loudly declared he was transferring his entire file to big box because we no longer bill Medicare B at store level ..my assistants are “technicians” they are not MINIONS. Neither of us made the decision, but we follow the company rules. If they want to centralize the process to reduce billing issues, they have that right. I would guess the shoe might be on the other foot if YOU were owed millions of dollars by Medicare.

THE END.

Graduation.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:45 am on Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30 years ago this week, I graduated from high school. 24 years ago this week I graduated from College. I just got back from my neice’s high school graduation. It was a big deal for her and her family and they made it so with a party etc. I suppose that is all good and well and felt it was my obligation as family to attend. She was valedictorian…smart girl! I never got excited about high school graduation. To me it was no big deal because in my opinion I wasn’t “finished”. I still had college to complete and all I was doing was changing venues. I hated high school and certainly had no intention of celebrating having been there. I graduated then went off to work my shift at the restaurant, as I did every saturday evening. I did attend both ceremonies for the benefit of my mother who wanted to ‘see me walk’. I have no recollection of who spoke or what was said at either graduation. I doubt the “moving speech” touched my life. (in fact, at the HS graduation, when we picked up our “diploma” it was an empty case…they held it hostage to prevent any shenanigans at the ceremony. We collected it the monday after.)

Even the actual event of college graduation held little significance for me because I had so much on my plate at the time. New job to go to, the NABPLEX and Law exam to prepare for, moving out of my apartment, etc. I had a ton of stuff to do. I still had to study!! School wasn’t over for me!

You wanna know when I felt the earth move? The day I received the letter from board of pharmacy telling me I had passed the NABPLEX and Law. IT WAS OVER! I WAS DONE! Now THAT was the moment I remember. I can still see exactly where I was standing when I opened the letter. My yellow paper license was enclosed and I was official….a licensed and registered pharmacist in the state I was living.

And THAT my friends was MY graduation day. Standing alone by my car at the mail box holding that most precious piece of paper I ever earned…23 years in the making…. Pharmacy Chick RPH.