Don Corleone in a white coat”: Pharmacist on working in a pandemic  

By | March 26, 2021

WE TALK A LOT ABOUT HOW IT IS EASY for medical staff to face the COVID-19 pandemic – they face huge workloads and a high risk of infection. But it is not easy in other areas: many, before going to the doctor, go to the pharmacy. Elizaveta, a pharmacist from Yekaterinburg, told us about work during the pandemic, interaction with people and the shortage of certain drugs.

I have been working as a pharmacist for about four years – I got a job in my specialty right after college. I took short – up to six months – breaks to look for myself, thought to change my activity, but in the end I still returned to the pharmacy.

Pharmacists and pharmacists are often referred to as salespeople and cashiers. Most of my colleagues are offended by this, although, in fact, our responsibilities include , among other things, the sale (in professional slang, we call it “vacation”) of medicines and pharmaceutical goods. But this is just a small part, requiring only knowledge of the rules of trade and cash discipline, that is, everything related to cash transactions: how to punch goods, make payments, keep journals, reporting, open and close shifts.

But our main work is still hiding in dozens of cabinets, drawers, shelves, shelves, showcases. Any goods are stored and dispensed in a pharmacy strictly according to the rules that form regulatory documents on pharmaceutical activities – and , by the way, they are very often changed, supplemented or abolished. And of course, before releasing the drug, you need to understand the need of each individual person, advise on the use, offer alternatives in terms of release form and price, and so on.

Everything, of course, depends on many factors. One of them is the reluctance of people to see a doctor. I would like to emphasize that not a single “first table” specialist – in professional slang, this is the name of the place where goods are consulted and released – in no case makes diagnoses and does not prescribe treatment. The entire consultation is only advisory in nature, it may include what concerns the symptoms, and only over-the-counter drugs, with the subsequent parting words, be sure to contact a medical institution.

The situation can be compared to rain.
It seemed to be thundering somewhere, it was starting to drizzle, but people did not open the umbrella until the last

The situation with the new coronavirus, in my opinion, can be compared to rain. It seemed to be thundering somewhere, it was starting to drizzle, but people did not open the umbrella until the last moment, and some still spank in the puddles without it . As well as throughout Russia, the surge in activity occurred at the end of March – beginning of April. There was no particular panic , people calmly, even casually, looked for personal protective equipment and antiseptics – mostly young and middle-aged people. Occasionally we were asked about the situation with COVID-19. Then, when masks and antiseptics stopped arriving , the accompanying materials that help to make them at home also began to dry out, and those that came were already at different prices, irritation began to be felt. People hissed, indignant, shouted, slammed doors and even spat.

For example, one person very loudly, without hesitation in expressions, scolded me for being in a mask myself – which means I hide the rest and do not sell them on purpose . Ostensibly because they are cheap, and I want to sell at a higher price and only to “my” people – a kind of Don Corleone in a white coat. It is not worth talking about the number of threats by the prosecutor’s office, Rospotrebnadzor and even the president himself . These, of course, are isolated cases, but in a difficult time there are more such stories.

Buyer aggression is a separate art form. Of course, now, amid anxiety and uncertainty about the future, people are losing control of themselves. Society, both as a whole and within the pharmacy, buzzes and groans. Sometimes such stories tell that hair stands on end – and screams, and humiliates, and spits, and threatens, and hits shop windows and equipment. I was somehow lucky – they hissed at me at most, shouted and slammed the door, there was nothing particularly frightening .

You also need to take into account that a person does not always start with a half turn. Much depends on us: how we present information, how we communicate, how we react. But there is also unmotivated aggression. Everyone knows very well about those who start swearing out of the blue: they said in the wrong tone, looked wrong, did not smile, and so on. But it no longer depends on the new coronavirus, such buyers have been and will always be.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, masks and antiseptics were shouted from every iron . Obviously, many people immediately associate this with a pharmacy. The demand for these goods has been, is and, I think, will be for a long time. Now it is already less, but still the first thing they ask about in the pharmacy, just in case, is whether there are masks and antiseptics. With the growing demand for them, the demand for gauze, cotton wool, bandages – masks are made of them. And for hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, chlorhexidine, any alcohol-containing tinctures, solutions – they are used to make antiseptics. All these goods also quickly went into defect (this is how they call the absence of goods on sale, for example, when they are not in stock), but over time they began to appear in small quantities.

Now everything is very vague. In our communities, they periodically share information that one or another defective product has arrived, but the question of the price is already acute . People always blame us for capitalizing on them and the situation. In fact, pricing is influenced by growing demand, shortages, the political situation, the state of the market for materials for production, production itself, and delivery. That is, it was not a pharmacy that increased the price from ten rubles to fifty, but already from the supplier, for example, the cost was thirty-five rubles.

This is how we work. We explain the absence of this or that product by the fact that now, first of all, they supply medical institutions, and only then retail outlets. Many people are sympathetic and support us and themselves. And we cheer people up and cheer ourselves up.

Such stories tell that hair stands on end – and screams, and humiliates,
and spits, and threatens, and hits shop windows
and equipment.

do n’t even know which is worse – a new coronavirus or misinformation on the topic. There are regular reports of a drug found or, even worse, COVID-19 prophylaxis. And I ‘m not talking about advertising moves, but about serious prescription, narrowly targeted drugs. For example, not so long ago people asked for an antimalarial drug – now it is impossible to find it even for those to whom it was prescribed for its intended purpose. Or there was a short demand for some kind of anthelmintic drug, which itself is very bad for the liver. I’m not talking about paracetamol, which for some reason someone drinks every day for protection, and the stomach suffers from this. In general, after the new coronavirus, we will treat everything else.

The peak of consumer activity also affected pharmacies. The number of people doubled, the check increased both in the number of positions and in amounts. We tried our best to meet the demand, but it happened that there were not enough goods that people requested. In addition, with the growth in sales, the supply of goods also increased . In my pharmacy, we work with the head of the department in turn, the analysis of the goods also falls on us. The load has grown significantly.

Then the wave of people subsided, and purchasing activity also decreased. Many pharmacies are now cutting their opening hours, we are no exception. Revenue falls, traffic falls, that is, the number of people who visit the pharmacy. In the morning , for example, we have no one from eight to nine – everyone is sitting at home, they stopped coming in before work – so they made a schedule for us from nine in the morning. In someone even more trims hours. Our salary depends on the norm of hours per month, the fewer hours – the lower the salary.

In our pharmacy, in full compliance with the protection measures, in accordance with all regulations – and federal and municipal. Each employee is provided with masks – disposable, reusable. Gloves, antiseptics, disinfectants for the workplace and retail space – everything is there, if possible, replenished. Unfortunately, the equipment of the hall does not allow to put protective screens, but they made a small barrier, markings for the distance too. Every two hours we process the surfaces, the hall itself, equipment, handles and doors, we ventilate the room – we record all this in a journal. After each cash settlement, we process our hands, even if there is a queue. There is a separate antiseptic for buyers. In the morning and in the evening, we measure the temperature, record it in a journal against signature and send it to the office. In this regard, we are doing well. It’s not even about the checks that are taking place in the regions, but about the safety of people and our own.

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