Community pharmacies remain open as an essential service during the lockdown period to supply residents with chronic medication and other medical necessities, as well as information and advice, and possible referral to medical practitioners or hospitals, if necessary. They will be available as the first port of call for many patients; however, contact within the pharmacies must be minimised in order to protect their personnel and keep them healthy.

How to get your medicine

The purpose of the lockdown period is to flatten the curve and prevent a peak infection period, when hospitals and medical staff would not be able to handle all the cases. Hence the necessity for people to stay inside their homes as far as possible and not move around.

Community pharmacies have put several measures in place to achieve the above. Patients need to phone in for their chronic medication to be prepared, and a convenient time will be arranged with them to collect it. In some instances medication may be out of stock or not available due to delivery issues, in which case patients will be notified as soon as their medication is ready.

Kleinmond Pharmacy has installed a delivery service to Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Pringle Bay and Rooiels. Deliveries will be done to these areas in the afternoons after 14:00, for those who ordered their medication before 12:00. The Hermanus Pharmacies (Alex Grant and Hermanus Pharmacy) also continue to do daily deliveries of medication for clients from Vermont to Voëlklip. 

Protocols when visiting your pharmacy

Patients who are not feeling well need to phone the pharmacy before they come in so that they can first be screened. At this stage most patients presenting in community pharmacies are unlikely to have been infected by the COVID-19 virus. However, if the pharmacist has any doubts about the patient’s symptoms, he/she will be requested to phone the Coronavirus Hotline on 0800 029 999. 

If the screening is negative for COVID-19, the patient will be allowed to enter the pharmacy. In the event of a patient presenting with possible COVID-19 symptoms, the health care provider should phone the NDIC Hotline and the patient must return home and stay in self isolation until further testing.

Posters are displayed outside pharmacies and patients are requested to make themselves aware of the safety precautions on arrival, before entering the pharmacy. A limited number of customers are allowed in the pharmacy to minimise the chances of spreading any germs, and customers’ hands will be sprayed with sanitiser at the door. Clients are requested not to unnecessarily touch items in the pharmacy – or any other store – and to refrain from touching or leaning on counters. While surfaces are sanitised regularly, it is impossible to sanitise all the products that customers have touched.

Limitations on supply of medicines

Many community pharmacies belong to the ICPA (Independent Community Pharmacy Association), which has put measures and protocols in place for pharmacies. These include a one-month limit placed on the supply of certain medications, while S1 and S2 medicines, especially cold and flu remedies, must be dispensed per individual and limited to a five-day supply. New supplies of the flu vaccine are expected this week and you are requested to make an appointment with your local pharmacy clinic for vaccination.

The author has supplied the above information in his personal capacity as a community pharmacist. He is also a primary health care pharmacist operating a clinic in the Kleinmond Pharmacy and a Past President of the ICPA. He was part of the initial group that started clinics in pharmacies in South Africa and one of the first pharmacist that obtained a PCDT qualification.

GPs and Dentists

Most of the General Practitioners and Dental Practices in the Overstrand remain open during the lockdown. Patients are requested to make an appointment and to NOT visit the practice without a scheduled appointment. This is to protect others, including your doctor, from possibly becoming infected, and allows the practice to space out appointments in order to avoid crowded waiting rooms. 

Describe your medical problem and symptoms over the phone when making an appointment. If you are displaying flu-like symptoms (fever, sore throat, dry cough) your GP will advise whether you need to call the Coronavirus Hotline. If you need to be tested or hospitalised, your GP can also call the Mediclinic and assist with the necessary arrangements. Do NOT go to the Emergency Room on your own if you are displaying symptoms, as this will endanger the hospital staff and other patients.

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