Pharmacists across the state said they're exhausted and burnt out during this third surge of COVID-19 cases. They say the demands are increasing and it's emotionally exhausting.
Owasso Pharmacist Dr. Kathy Campbell said emotionally, the pandemic has really taken a toll. She said she lost four longtime patients in a week and a lot of pharmacists are burnt out.
"We're exhausted, everybody's exhausted,” said Dr. Campbell.
Dr. Campbell said the pandemic has really taking a toll on pharmacists across the state.
Being the owner of Medicap Pharmacy, Dr. Campbell said she watches out for her staff, but many larger chain pharmacists and technicians said their workload is drastically increasing.
"There's a level of exhaustion and overwork that is very concerning in the industry and in healthcare,” said Dr. Campbell.
Dr. Campbell said on top of filling prescriptions, many pharmacies are also conducting COVID-19 tests and administering vaccines, putting themselves at risk every day.
"We're tired,” said Dr. Campbell. “I mean we not only have not taken a day off at all, there's also trying to keep our staff safe, trying to keep our patients taken care of through novel ways - delivery, curbside.”
Oklahoma City Pharmacists Dr. Bled Tanoe started a campaign on Facebook to draw attention to the issues national chain pharmacists are facing called #PizzaIsNotWorking. She said pharmacists are tired of getting pizza or food as a thank you and instead want to see major change and support from their parent companies.
"I have been in the pharmacy since 2012. I have had my very bad days. I have come home absolutely defeated. I have been belittled, insulted, cussed and everything in between by patients,” Dr. Tanoe’s post said in part.
She goes on to say, "Your pharmacy staff is dying… emotionally and physically. Listen very carefully… this is not an exaggeration. The amount of emotional breakdown we have seen is monumental. The amount of people suffering from heart attack, migraines, kidney infections and everything that stem from stress… this is happening right now to your pharmacy staff. More demands that have nothing to do with patient safety which should be the number one concern.”
Dr. Campbell said she has about 10 staff working during the day, some are giving shots, others are filling prescriptions, but she said chain pharmacists are struggling with the workload.
"It's just a lot to manage with lesser resources to do it, so in the bigger industry we've got some real problems brewing," said Dr. Campbell.
The Oklahoma City Pharmacist who started the campaign is encouraging people to reach out to state representatives to advocate for pharmacists, and also asks people to be kind to them because they're being asked to do a lot right now.