Thank you. Thank you for stepping up during this ongoing pandemic and doing everything you can to protect the public, keep your colleagues safe, and facilitate ongoing access to essential medications and services. Thank you for working so collaboratively with other healthcare providers and stakeholders to adapt to an ever changing landscape. You are there for our patients in the most necessary way during an incredibly challenging time.
COVID-19 has tested the profession in unprecedented ways. There have been many challenges, including a severe lack of personal protective equipment, panic-buying of medications, critical drug shortages, colleagues falling ill, and the quickly changing regulatory and legislative landscape. And yet through all of that, what I saw every day was a profession rising to the challenge and ensuring that the public’s health and interests are protected. This edition of Pharmacy Connection includes articles to reflect on this experience thus far and help prepare for the coming months, including highlighting how the College has responded as a regulator, emphasizing important resources and practice reminders, and sharing how some pharmacies have adjusted their practice to ensure they can continue to provide care to patients.
I also recognize that the burdens have been heavy on many of you in your professional and personal lives. This edition includes an article on mental health resources for pharmacy professionals, including the Ontario Pharmacy Health Program. I encourage anyone who is in need of support to reach out – we can’t take care of our patients if we are not also taking good care of ourselves.
While the pandemic has transformed the healthcare system, it has also highlighted new opportunities for innovation and collaboration, including potential ways that pharmacy can play a larger role. This past June the Board of Directors approved draft amendments that would permit pharmacist prescribing for certain minor ailments. This expansion of scope, once approved by government, will enable pharmacists to take on a greater role in improving patient health outcomes. Through maximizing your knowledge and skills as medication experts to initiate, manage and optimize drug therapy, you can work with your patients to ensure that the care they receive is effective, appropriate and meets their individual needs.
As we move into the summer and look ahead to the fall in anticipation of continued challenges due to COVID-19 and seasonal influenza, the College will continue to monitor emerging issues, address barriers to practice, develop resources and guidance as necessary, and engage with pharmacy and health system stakeholders regularly. We are committed to working within our regulatory mandate to protect patients and support pharmacy professionals.
Part of our commitment as healthcare professionals, and as a College that exists to serve and protect the public, is to work towards making our society and health system more equitable for everyone. At its June meeting, the Board of Directors acknowledged the impact of systemic racism and discrimination in our society and committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders and the profession to ensure that pharmacy reflects the patient population it serves. Please read the joint letter from Nancy and me in this edition to learn more.
To all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – thank you for your tremendous effort during these challenging times. Please stay safe.