May 12, 2020 Ashley Struble

Getting Medications to a Patient During COVID-19

From a Specialty Pharmacy Liaison – For the past two weeks I have been assisting the hospital pharmacy with medication deliveries during COVID-19. Every morning I begin work at 7:30 am to prepare for the day before going to the pharmacy. Early Thursday morning I heard one of our social workers and the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) having a frantic conversation about a patient who at one point had an undetectable viral load that skyrocketed to more than 200,000 because of non-compliance with medication therapy. I remembered speaking to the patient a few months back in clinic but, unfortunately, she declined our additional specialty pharmacy services even though they were provided at no additional cost to her.

Due to a severe social anxiety condition, she preferred to speak only with her social worker and wanted nothing to do with anyone else. Her social worker sent the prescriptions to our pharmacy at that time, which left the patient with a high insurance copay. The copay caused her to view her medication as completely unattainable.

After speaking with the social worker and LPN, I asked if I could be of some assistance. The social worker looked at me and said, “try your luck, but I guarantee she won’t budge.”

I asked for the patient’s MRN and did some research before calling her. Working with our pharmacy’s Financial Assistance experts I was able to get her a copay card that brought the medication out-of-pocket cost down to $0. I then spoke to the pharmacist who agreed we should send the patient her medication in the morning since our courier had space available.

The patient’s history of social anxiety was understandably made worse by COVID-19, so I called from the office phone, a number that most of our patients recognize. I introduced myself again, letting her know that I worked closely with her social worker and clinical care team. I explained that her medication was already prepared and that I would send it out after we got off the phone.

I provided her with the courier’s name so she wasn’t alarmed when he came to her door. The patient started crying on the phone and explained that she was terrified of catching COVID-19 and didn’t even want to leave her home. She thanked me for taking the time to get the medication to her and will now be under the care of the hospital’s specialty pharmacy team moving forward. This is something that really warmed my heart. Being a sense of calm during this trying time for our patients is something that I look forward to every day when I come to work. I hope everyone is trying their best to keep a positive mindset.