RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - While restaurants and bars will likely see a drop in customer flow, pharmacies are seeing an increase in clientele in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, people who want to stock up on their medications and get their questions answered.
"I've been a pharmacist for 20 years. I've never seen anything like this before," said Melanie Murdaugh.
Murdaugh is a staff pharmacist at Westbury Apothecary in Henrico County. That establishment, like many pharmacies, is getting quite a bit of questions about how to handle and prevent coronavirus.
"They don't know which medications can treat it, which they really haven't established any that do at this point," Murdaugh pointed out. "They're just afraid. They're not sure how to protect themselves, their loved ones."
The veteran pharmacist says foot traffic in her department at Westbury has increased exponentially in the last couple of weeks. Many are picking up prescriptions for illnesses or regular medications. Murdaugh and the staff are trying to take steps to limit the congregation and crowds, especially among those who are already under the weather with another illness.
"Check your bottles to see if they have refills before you come in," advised Melanie. "Call the doctor's office to make sure that the refills are ready or call the pharmacy before you come in before you come in, just to lessen wait times and congregation in the pharmacy."
Westbury has increased staff to help with the workload and employees are doing the things that experts have recommended, like washing their hands frequently, and consistently cleaning things like doorknobs and credit card scanners. There are also measures customers can take to limit their trips to the pharmacy or eliminate them altogether.
"If you can get a 90 day supply of your prescription, I would encourage that, because we are trying to work with patients and their insurance companies just to limit your exposure to coming in. We can provide the medication through delivery so that's another day that patients can limit having to come into the pharmacy."
While many are concerned about a number of things as they navigate through uncertainty, Murdaugh says that the pharmacy closing should not be one of them. She expects Westbury, as well as others like it, to be readily available every step of the way.
“We will stay open unless we are told by the Board of Pharmacy that we are not allowed to stay open. We are necessary to provide a service so I do not think we would ever close our doors.”
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