Widespread testing for COVID-19 continues to be an important factor in battling the current pandemic. Despite the authorization given by the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for pharmacists to order and administer tests, many pharmacies are still seeing additional roadblocks in the process. Additional legislation is needed to streamline the process and take advantage of the positioning of thousands of community pharmacies across the US. As part of their testing initiative, HHS has sponsored a program to implement free testing sites at select independent pharmacies across the country.
One of those sites is Grubb’s Care Pharmacy in Washington, DC. Owner and president Dr. Michael Kim says that 3 of his pharmacies have been chosen to participate in the program, and are currently the only COVID-19 testing sites in the DC area.
Grubb’s Care Pharmacy is one of the oldest surviving pharmacies in America, whose location near the Capitol results in it being the preferred pharmacy for members of Congress. Dr. Kim runs the pharmacy with his wife, Joan Kim. He is the current Chairman of the Care Pharmacies Board of Directors and Vice President of NCPA, among serving on other boards and committees. He and his wife are committed to serving the diverse communities of DC.
COVID-19 testing at Grubb’s Care is a self-administered, socially distant process. Patients can either drive up in their cars with the window cracked just enough to communicate, or walk up to a table where pharmacy staff instructs them through a plexiglass shield. “You live in a city like D.C., a lot of people don’t have cars,” explains Kim. “[That’s why] we added a walk-up model as well.” In either case, the patients are given the necessary materials and guided by pharmacy staff to correctly swab each of their nostrils to get a sample for testing. “Once the day is done, we collect all of the specimen bags and ship them off to the lab for analysis. And then the lab [will] notify the patients within three to five days after the test. They also report the results back to local and state health departments,” says Kim.
Grubb’s Care has also been partnering with pharmacy students from the Howard University College of Pharmacy in D.C. and using their help to assist in collecting samples. “It’s been a really good partnership,” Kim emphasizes. “It gives the students a good chance to be on the ground and have a hands-on experience – something other than just dispensing or looking at charts.” And they have definitely been keeping busy. The staff has been working with a full schedule of testing appointments almost every day. Anyone in the area can go to DoINeedACovid19Test.com to complete a pre-screening and set up an appointment time, then bring their registration voucher and photo ID to the pharmacy.
Grubb’s Care Pharmacy is continuing to protect and care for their community at a safe distance by administering COVID-19 testing each day, and is also offering its other services in the meantime. “We probably do at least 100 deliveries a day using the [PioneerRx] delivery app,” estimates Kim. “We also offer curbside pick up. . .and ask patients to directly text us [through the 2-way messaging feature] so that we are not flooded with phone calls. For the instructional signage on our curbside, I used the templates that were provided by PioneerRx.”
The team at Grubb’s Care keeps up with all of their community’s needs by offering a variety of services to accommodate their patients. Their COVID-19 testing program has been a success so far, and as logistics continue to be improved, we hope to see an increase in the number of independent pharmacies testing in their communities as well.