Ashcroft I.D.A. pharmacist Jon Wiesendahl says it was hard to deal with medication shortages at the beginning of the pandemic. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Being on pharmacy front line meant ‘More hoops to jump through’

Jon Wiesendahl says having to ration some medications was hard

Irene Dumont: “I would like to nominate Jon, our pharmacist at Ashcroft I.D.A. Pharmacy.”

Jon Wiesendahl, the pharmacy manager at Ashcroft I.D.A., says that when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, things were “crazy busy” at the pharmacy.

“I guess everyone was was filling all the prescriptions they had so they could get all their medications. It was way busier than usual. People were also staying in town, and not getting their prescriptions filled in Kamloops.”

He says that the most painful thing to deal with was not being able to get in all the medications they normally do. “We usually go through 18 inhalers a week — that’s the norm — but we were only getting five or six in. We had to ration them, and that was hard.

“There weren’t outright shortages, but manufacturers were rationing orders, so we had to figure out alternatives. But there were a lot of things there were no shortages of.”

Wiesendahl feels he is lucky to be in Ashcroft, where he has a good relationship with the doctors at the medical clinic, who give him a lot of leeway in dealing with patients. “There’s a lot of trust, and that leeway saves a lot of time.”

He says that because of the coronavirus, more people wanted to avoid going to the clinic to see a doctor, and might have felt uncomfortable using telehealth services, so he was doing more extensions on prescriptions and more emergency prescriptions until people could get in to see a physician. “We didn’t do a strict ‘one month only’ refill on prescriptions, either,” he adds. “We played it by ear.” While the pharmacy already made Friday deliveries to regulars, Wiesendahl says they were able to open the service up a bit more because of COVID-19.

Things are pretty much back to normal, although there are a lot more requests for masks and gloves. “And we still can’t get thermometers.”

Wiesendahl says that he’s not personally worried about getting COVID-19, but adds that he doesn’t want to be a vector for the virus. “I’m trying to make sure that I’m not the source.” When it comes to being on the front line during a pandemic, he says “Overall, it was work, but with more hoops to jump through.”

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