Communities in Need: How Hayat Pharmacy Became a Health Care Provider in Milwaukee Due to the Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the role of community pharmacies and the way the public interacts with them, especially in underserved areas.

Dr Hashim Zaibak – who runs Hayat Pharmacies in Milwaukee with more than 12 locations and staff who speak 22 languages ​​and dialects – said pharmacists and technicians are increasingly recognized as reliable healthcare providers and not just as drug dispensers.

“COVID has arrived and it has really shown the value of pharmacists,” Zaibak said on WPR’s “The Morning Show”. “Now we are educators. We go to the community. We tell people why they should get vaccinated.

Zaibak, whose pharmacies are working to reach historically underserved communities, said Hayat has started a home vaccination program to reach people who may be homebound. The program connects pharmacists and nurses with people who need help.

“We have also worked with some churches that have their own minivans or similar transport tools to get people to our pharmacies to get vaccinated,” he said.

As educators, Zaibak said staff at his pharmacies are also dispelling myths about the vaccine that have spread on social media sites, such as that the vaccine can make people infertile, that the vaccine kills people. , that the government is exaggerating the severity of COVID -19 and that COVID-19 is just a myth.

Being available for their communities is also an important role for these pharmacies, he said. For example, staff can be quick to help with rapid tests when negative tests are needed for patients to attend certain events or go to work in the office.

Zaibak said that since the arrival of the delta variant, its pharmacies are testing around 200 people per day, compared to 15 to 20 people before delta.

People can go to the pharmacy to get a PCR test, which is free for them, but takes a day or two to get results. Faster results can be achieved with antigen tests that people can buy for $ 25 and perform themselves or pay $ 66 to get tested at a pharmacy – although rapid tests are not always accepted as proof of do not have the virus.

Zaibak said those who don’t know how to navigate to find their results online return to the pharmacy for help printing their results.

“It’s the beauty of being a community pharmacy,” he said. “We are not a very large organization. We are small enough to know our community and know what is needed, how to take care of it and how to change the system a bit to make it easier for people.

A lot of funding and help is needed to provide these services, and Zaibak noted how the PREP law – which was recently amended to empower qualified pharmacy technicians to administer certain vaccines – is one way of using more the skills of qualified pharmacy technicians.

He said that in pharmaceutical organizations there are often five or six technicians per pharmacist, so giving them the ability to help vaccinate tens of thousands of people has changed the efficiency and reach of pharmacies.

“These technicians are well trained, certified, and yet in the past they couldn’t do that,” he said. “But now they can. And it is beautiful.

Allowing technicians to immunize is one example of how the pandemic has “opened doors” that help prove the value of community pharmacies.

“We are the most accessible healthcare professionals in the country,” Zaibak said.


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