The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Merry Christmas!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:52 am on Friday, December 25, 2009

I’d like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas! Where ever you find yourself this day, I’d like to say thank you for being my readers and contributers to this source of therapy/entertainment known as my blog.
When Jesus entered the world 2000+ years ago, it was broken and in need of a savior. How wonderful that the Father had a plan from the beginning. Not arriving on a white steed with armor, but in the arms of a young girl…he was not as many expected. Regardless, his impact was shattering. The birth of Christ set into motion the salvation plan…the end of our waiting period…”Joy to the World! The Lord has Come! Let Earth Receive her King!”
So, on this day where people all over the earth ( and whose preparations have brought many to their breaking point) celebrate Christmas in a variety of ways, find a moment of pause…and wish Jesus a happy birthday..for I am not going to presume that all of you are followers of Jesus…but all of you have a birthday!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Recipe for the perfect storm.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 3:02 pm on Sunday, December 20, 2009

Step one.  Wake up to casually notice your neighbors lights are on. (which are NEVER on at 630 in the morning).

Step two.  Receive a phone call from said neighbor who announced her husband had committed suicide in the middle of the night…in her presence.

Step three.  After rushing to neighbors house with condolances and talking, somehow have to get  your head to function and get to work.

Step four.  Intern leaves message and says she is too sick to work. (one more person down and H1N1 Vaccines scheduled all day)

Step five. Arrive at store to find Electric gate jammed, trash not emptied, 20 rx’s not filled and 10 more not even processed and 40+ in the queue, vials empty, and a forboding sense that “this day is not going to be good”.

(clouds building)

Step six.  Spend next 12 and 3/4 hours with no rest. no food. no bathroom break and begging that 9pm will arrive without perishing yourself. Receive phone calls all day from neighbors trying to make arrangements for the recent widow. Desperately wish you were at home helping out there instead of here at work.  You are exhausted, surly, hungry and have nothing else to give. Look at the stats and see that you have done the same number of RX that you did on monday with half the staff. No wonder you brain is fried.

(Thunder rolls)

Step SEVEN.  Two strangers arrive with a chip on their shoulder.  They left town without insulin…..2 friggin days ago….and only NOW, 10 minutes prior to closing decide to address this issue.  (can you hear the camel’s back breaking?).  Tell patient that she will address this issue in the morning.  Patient tells you that you HAVE to take care of them because you are a PUBLIC SERVANT.. wtf?

(Lightning strikes!)

Step eight. Snap like a twig!  Tell two strangers that this was an issue they should dealt with the day before or at least HOURS earlier, not 10 minutes before  the store closes, and since you are not employed by neither the city, county, state, or federal govt, that while the working conditions are slave-like, you ARE NOT however a public servant…..

The rest of the interaction when downhill from there.  These people weren’t worth a piece of lint to me by this time. They were irresponsible about their health care and expected (no, DEMANDED) me to care about it when they didn’t care about it themselves. I was surly. I was out of line.  They complained to the management.

I just couldn’t care about them. Who I cared about blew his brains out.  Who I cared about was a widow trying to survive this day.

I am sure there will be hell to pay at work on monday.  I dont think I’ll care much about that either.

Comments off..

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:37 am on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Until the site administrator fixes some spam issue, I have turned off comments for any post over 30 days old.  I really didnt’ like waking up to 600 comments to moderate today !  Hopefully he will fix this soon!

Pharmacy Chick

What? Could you repeat that?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:07 am on Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sometimes a customer interaction borders on the sublime. This was such an interaction, one that just was so odd that all I could do was laugh at its absurdity.

The phone rings and it was this customer that we don’t see much anymore. Other than an occasional antibiotic and their annual flu shot, these people have elected to use mail order for their pharmacy. (what ever floats your boat I suppose). So it was a surprise when she called and said ” I need to get a prescription refilled”, since the last time she RE-filled anything was over 2 years ago. “Alice, you don’t have any prescriptions on file here any more that CAN be refilled.” I said. (drum roll) “Oh” she said “I don’t want YOU to refill anything for me”. “I want to order them thru my mail order but their phone is busy and I was wondering if YOU could call them for me and order it”.


I let her down gently but with conviction that SHE had to order her own refills.

Ah, the life of a retail pharmacist.

Pulling back the curtain a bit.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:21 am on Monday, December 7, 2009

I may take a round about way to get to my point in this post, but trust me, I’ll get there.

I got my very first job when I was 14 and 11/12th years old.  (you had to be 15 to work in my state) My next door neighbor managed a very nice steak house and I got a job bussing tables.  In the town that I lived in, there were only a few really NICE  places to eat, and this was one of them.  From the outside, it looked like a huge 3-pointed A-frame ski chalet.  On the inside it had a dark and private ambience since most of the tables were either booths or enclosed in smoked plexiglass. It really was a nice place for a quiet meal, and apparently the atmosphere worked because it was not uncommon to have 1-2 hour wait lists for dinner on the weekends. That fact alone was phenomenal to me, especially as an adult.  I wouldn’t care if they are serving hundred dollar bills with their meals, I won’t wait 1-2 hours for a meal.  

If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you can testify that the calmness and the soft dark ambience of the front part (the tables),  defies the crazy atmosphere of the kitchen part of ANY restaurant, and this was no different.  Order accuracy and prompt delivery of the hot food was critical.   The two cooks worked feverishly cooking and sorting orders so that not only were individual orders  done correctly , but that the were finished at the same time, since different foods cooked at different rates.   Wait staff were barking requests, the bus help were dashing around keeping the dirty dishes managed, and the dishwashers in the back were constantly transforming dirty dishes into clean ones.  We never seemed to have enough silverware so getting to the clean dishes first was a priority for us.   It was LOUD, it was DISORDERLY sometimes, but honestly it was seldom DISORGANIZED.  It could be called “organized chaos”.    However, the diner never got to see this.   With the kitchen out of view, they only saw their waitstaff disappear with their orders in hand, only to return a short time later with a platter full of nicely cooked steak and seafood.  It wasn’t their concern about HOW the food was prepared, only THAT it was prepared to their liking.  And for that great service they paid a premium ( restaurant prices) and a tip for the wait staff.

The pharmacy isn’t all that different in some regards.  For me personally, I try to portray an image of organization and order in the department.  Even tho we are in plain view and not hidden (tho I think we SHOULD be…another post maybe), Id rather not have the customer see the chaos that can be in the pharmacy.   I try to keep the people milling around to a minimum..(how do you say “go away” nicely??)  so that I can work as quickly and quietly as possible.  Because of this, there is a mistaken idea that we aren’t busy.    There doesn’t have to be 9 people standing around the pharmacy for me to be overwhelmed with work. 

I worked the day before Thanksgiving.  I really hate to work the days before a holiday.  Every “issue” that can come up, ususally does.  Whether it be ” I have to get on a plane in 2 hours and I need this refill oked by my doctor” ( fuggetaboutit), or ” This is Aunt Edna who left her Lantus in Sheboygan, she needs it right away” and has no pharmacy name or number, the day before a holiday is usually fraught with a zillion fires for the pharmacy staff to put out.   About half way thru the day, we had a time where we had probably 1-2 hour of wait time to pick up  prescriptions.  We had close to 40 unfilled (non waiters) and probably 20 waiters that were some where in the store.  They just happened to NOT be at the pharmacy.  This man walked up with yet another waiter, looked around and said “Hmmm…looks like you aren’t very busy today”.   A part of me just snapped.   “Actually sir, we have a 2 hour wait for these prescriptions”.  He looked flabbergasted. “But there is nobody here!” He said.  I told him, “Oh, they are all aren’t looking close enough..they are ALL OVER THE STORE.”.

Maybe I do a disservice to myself by making the pharmacy look calm and collected to the customer.  Maybe they need to see the chaos that is inside.  Maybe I need a number taker out front so they can see how far down the list they actually are.  Just like the restaurant,  they see the nice exterior and fail to see beehive of activity that exists within the prep area so that their (and everybody elses) finished product is done on time and accurately.  Maybe we need an educational video that shows the real life activity in a pharmacy….Maybe I need to pull back the curtain a bit.

They only see THEIR needs, THEIR wants, and THEIR prescriptions.  If you get down to the marrow,  thats all they care about, so don’t kid yourself.  About the only time that people SEE the work load we endure is when the pick-up line is snaking down the aisle, and then we get to hear THEIR complaints about it. 

Would it matter if they knew?  Nah,  I doubt it.   Getting people to cooperate is like nailing Jello to a tree.   And so I just carry on. 

Order UP!

Pharmacy Loyalty two cents worth.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:53 pm on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Eric, Pharmacist, wrote a nice piece in Drug Topics recently about loyalty cards.  If you haven’t read it yet, click on his link on the blog roll you’ll find it there.  It got me thinking about the darn things and lacking anything really INTERESTING to write about today, I just decided to steal his own topic and simply add to it.  I’ll admit it, I have no shame…

If  I HAD to choose between either samples from the doctors office and the loyalty cards, I suppose I would choose the loyalty cards for the simple reason that I get NO money for samples that come from the doctors office but I do at least generate a sale from the latter.  That being said,  let me make this perfectly clear….Loyalty cards are a colossal pain in the Chick’s rear. 

To clarify…if its not clear enough..I don’t really mind the one-time-here-its-free cards.  Take the card, get your one month free supply of ExpensO-RXatrol and we are done. Finito, Over and out.  I never have to think about that transaction again.   Granted, there are a few brain trusts out there that seem to conveniently  forget  that the  card provided only a one month free supply and wonder rudely the next month “WHY do I have a $75 copay for Luxiq? I didn’t pay that LAST month??”  only to stomp off and refuse to take the prescription. 

No, the loyalty cards that tie the Chick’s feathers in a knot are the re-usable..monthly cards for 3 dispensings, 6 dispensings,  1 yr, 18 month…you get my drift.  Give me a break.  You get Pimple Face Finnegan in here with  Cards for Solodyn, EpiDuo, yada yada yada and his mother expects me to remember that each month this card goes with this drug and on and on…  SORRY MOM, THAT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN…

I fill over 6000 prescriptions each month.  99% of them are billed to some kind of insurance or discount plan.   I am damn excellent at keeping track of 1 insurance, and most of the time, if I have it bookmarked, i can sometimes remember the split bill…but not always.  Therefore, when I so these split bills, I tell the patient (in the most kind manner possible) “Dearest customer,  I take your loyalty cards, but it is YOUR responsibility to make sure they are done..not when you ORDER THE PRESCRIPTION, not pick it up, please remind the staff that you have this card because it will be  returned to the back of the line if it needs to be rebilled at the time of pick-up. ”  

Unfortunately my computer does not have any kind of “flag” that tells me that any given rx was split billed.  It just doesn’t. And while I do my best to put “split bill” in the comment line, that comment line applies to every thing we look at on their file, not just that rx.   Nothing stops the line from moving quicker than when my tech moves from the cash register TO a computer with a RX and a loyalty card…and does NOT move the customer out of the way.  I have endured too many glares from customers when I tell them to step away from the counter when we rebill cards for them…Know what??? Tough noogies. If you want to have $25 knocked off your Diovan..wait your turn.

Now we have special loyalty cards that frustrate the cashier also. Not only do they require a split bill, but they “fund” a card that has to be swiped at the cash register, in order for the customer to receive the loyalty discount.  (Insert head slap here!).  These transactions have to be very specially done, in order to work. In a nutshell, if the copay is $40 for Aciphex, and the card takes $30 off, then the clerk has to ring up  $40, collect $10 FIRST, to make the remainder $30 show on the register…then the customer has to slide the loyalty card, put in the PIN number, and process to get the #30 off. It will not work in any other order. 

My question WHAT THE HECK for??.  Why add this step when the split bill process would have been sufficient?  Im just sayin….

Recently this woman brought me 4 prescriptions for acne medications from a physician whose sole purpose in life (I believe) is to promote the most expensive dermatologicals on the planet. I believe I have written about him before.  Each of these rx’s had a loyalty card associated with it, but some were actually duplications in treatment.  “Mom” gave me this deck of cards and rx’s and wanted me to provide “whichever was the cheaper product”.  Steaming with rage because we were slammed (being a Monday).  I wasted close to 30 minutes billing, and rebilling this nightmare, for which she thanked  me by taking NONE of them.   “I just wanted to know how much they cost”. 

Maam?  may the fleas of a thousand camels find solace in your underwear tonight.