First, an update on that wonderful (mostly) vegetarian restaurant located within the Glebe Community Centre, The Pantry. I first wrote about its being under threat in November 2013, asking "Can this Pantry be saved?" Then on May 26, 2014 a more optimistic entry, where it seemed it would get a reprieve, at least for a couple more years.

Well, those couple of years have come and gone, and I heard on the news yesterday that it has (probably) served its last meal. This time, the main issue seems to be not so much competing programs offered by the Community Centre as the decision of the current proprietors to retire, with no one waiting in the wings to fill their shoes.

Of course, the restaurant always closed during the summer anyway. Its schedule was tied to that of the (Ontario) school year, being closed during Christmas holidays and March break as well. There is some talk of possibly establishing another restaurant somewhere within the Community Centre, though whether that would be another vegetarian place and where in the centre it would be remains unclear. So stay tuned, folks. Maybe we can look forward to a similar situation to Books on Beechwood, one of the last independent bookstores in town - when the former owner decided to retire, one of its loyal customers stepped up to the helm. We can always hope!

Secondly, an update to "Your neighbourhood pharmacist", which I wrote on August 4, 2014, several months before the last major flare-up of my arthritis in April 2015.
In that entry, I argued among other things that we don't tend to fully utilize the skills and expertise of our pharmacists.

Since then, it appears that pharmacists have been under increasing pressure to earn their keep and justify their existence. I think maybe they earn a certain number of brownie points (or at least don't accrue demerit points) for every "medication review" they conduct with a patient and for every time they phone you to "remind" you that it's time to renew one or other of your prescriptions or that your renewals have all run out, and would you like them to fax your doctor to get permission for another 3 renewals? It got so annoying that I basically ended up telling them "Don't call us, we'll call you." Moreover, when they begin a phone call with letting you know that "This call may be monitored for quality control purposes" it raises some serious red flags about the privacy and confidentiality of one's medical information. Big Pharma is watching you?

On a more positive note, I think maybe I HAVE finally trained the pharmacy NOT to dispense my medications in containers that are almost impossible for me to open when my arthritis is at its worst. But it took a lot of persistence on my part, even after they supposedly had a note on my file and I on one occasion even mentioned it in a voicemail when I phoned to renew a prescription. I still don't go too far away from the pharmacy without first opening the little white bag to make sure they've complied with my instructions. And I'll also acknowledge that I've had no more episodes of getting someone else's prescription. Occasionally they still aren't able to completely fill a prescription, but they do give me enough pills to tide me over until the rest of them come in.

Finally, an update on my PRESTO card. If you were following my blog in 2013 and 2014, you may recall I had a whole host of problems with it initially, what with the top-up feature not working, and then the card itself failing. On May 26, 2014, I wrote an entry where things seemed to be going more smoothly. And that was the case for a couple of months until the replacement card failed as well! But this time, it seems the Presto folks at Rideau Centre were a little more ready for me. They quickly replaced my card, I didn't have to pay $6 for it, and the nice man loaded on a few free trips (which I'm not sure ever did get billed to my credit card). I still had to phone Presto to get the balance from my old card transferred to my new one and it still took 24 hours or so but at least it didn't seem to be quite such a rigamarole and I wasn't stuck in some endless telephone tree for hours on end. And nearly two years later, the card is still working (touch wood - but don't touch anything magnetic!)

A good thing too, because tickets are being phased out to make way for rapid transit and all-tech options for fare paying. Of course, all fares have gone up as of today (and will rise again on January 1). Amongst other factors, it appears that the Metrolinx folks are trying to extort yet more money for the "privilege" of using the PRESTO card system that's been plagued with problems since day one. Ah, well - hopefully most of those problems are behind us now. And I do think it'll be nice to finally have a proper light rail system in Ottawa - once it's up and running.
A week or two ago, I was pleased to read that some pharmacies are establishing rules and policies about using a decent-sized font on the labels of pill vials. About time, I say! Now I have a few more suggestions for pharmacists.

First, the container itself. It's all very well to have a "child-proof" lid but please consider that it may also be elder-proof, arthritic-proof and just generally patient-proof! Pharmacists waste all this time "educating" us about the medicine itself, telling us all the information that's already on the information sheet inside the bag... and sticking pretty little sticky-labels on the bottle about not giving blood with this medication, avoiding exposure to sun with that one, not drinking or driving with yet another... but all the education in the world is pointless if you can't get the @#$%^ thing open! Some well-meaning friends and acquaintances have pointed out to me that I need only tell the pharmacist my preference. But surely the onus should be on the pharmacist to be proactive and ASK what the patient prefers? After all the dire warnings I've been reading about the perils and the slippery slope involved in selling MILK in 3-litre containers, I'm absolutely astounded that no one seems to have taken up the cause of inaccessible patient pill vials! When I was first prescribed Celebrex for my arthritis, I developed a habit of just loosely setting the lid upon the bottle between doses, which of course rather defeats the purpose of a child-proof, cat-proof lid - and to some degree of any lid, if you need to keep the bottle airtight and light-tight too. Now that the arthritis is under control, I find the push-and-turn type of lid considerably easier but if the diameter of the lid is too great (as has sometimes been the case), it doesn't fit comfortably in the palm of my (nor, I suspect many adults') hand while I do the "turn" part of the opening action.

Secondly, if you are going to offer patients the "convenience" of being able to order refills by touch-tone phone, PLEASE ensure that the pick-up date and time given by the robotic voice is in fact accurate! One time I was given a particular time to pick up my meds, went in well after that time and had to go back two more times on two different days before I actually managed to get them, over a week after they were due. And it wasn't even one of those drugs like oxycontin that I know are a bit "iffy" in terms of supply.

Thirdly, make sure that ALL the prescriptions you put in that little white bag are in fact intended for the person (or delegate of that person) to whom you hand them. That surely is so fundamental that it should should be covered in any Pharmacy 101 or Pharmacist's Assistant 101 course or whatever. In one instance I went to pick up a DMARD, Methotrexate, at the pharmacy (a major national chain) and it was considerably more expensive than I had expected. But I guess I didn't quite believe that the pharmacist had made a mistake - instead I assumed that I had probably, without thinking, submitted a prescription that had both Celebrex (a much more expensive drug) AND Methotrexate on the same script, and just handed them my credit card. Once I got home, I realized I also had a prescription for someone with a vaguely similar name. I promptly took it back and the pharmacy-person did take it back and issue a credit (which she warned might take a bit of time to appear on my credit card). Still, her reaction was certainly not what I expected. If anything, she seemed slightly annoyed at having to undo a transaction that was the pharmacy's fault in the first place. Luckily I'm still fairly healthy and able-bodied and was able to get back there without too much hassle. But can you imagine if I hadn't noticed for several weeks and poor Mr. Carter Bloggs (not his real name) had had to manage without a critical medication? Come to think of it, maybe that's what happened to MY medication in the instance I mentioned in the paragraph above! Remember that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" where young George Bailey saves the druggist from making just such a career-limiting and lives-destroying move?

Lest you think from the above paragraphs that I'm down on pharmacists generally, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. I really believe that medicare can only remain sustainable if we make full use of medical professionals other than (though obviously not to the exclusion of) doctors, especially specialists. Generally I believe that we DON'T avail ourselves enough of the skills and expertise of nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, health care technicians and technologists of various sorts - and, of course, pharmacists. I was very impressed at how smoothly my flu shot went last fall, at a Rexall pharmacy near where I live. On the other hand, I was rather put off, many years ago, when my union endorsed an order-your-meds-through-the-mail program aimed at saving the consumer lots of money on prescription drugs. What would this do to the jobs of pharmacists, I wondered? Surely as good unionists we should be protecting jobs like this in the knowledge economy? Anyway, I never used the mail-order drug scheme and I guess a lot of others were leery of it too, because I think less than a year later, it was cancelled.

Would a national pharmacare program alleviate some of the problems I've had with the existing system or could it potentially make them worse? I'd like to think that it would improve things because at present, many people who have no coverage through their employment (and even a few who do) are literally facing crippling drug costs.



October 2017



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 24th, 2017 09:38 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios