As pharmacy manager of the newly established Prime Medical Pharmacy, the biggest challenge that I have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic is the rise in mental health disorders experienced by patients. Recently, I encountered a healthy, young patient who entered the pharmacy crying. She thought she was having an allergic reaction and wanted to get an EpiPen. After inquiring about her symptoms and history, I learned that she was also experiencing short breaths, a racing heart and nausea, and she did not have any medical conditions or allergies. With further questioning, I found that the patient was extremely anxious about COVID-19; her friends had tested positive, she was the sole grocery shopper in her family, and she feared that she would catch the virus too. I realized that she was likely having a panic attack, so I sat her down. I reassured her that even if she tested positive, she was not at high risk of complications as she was young and had no comorbidities. I also counselled the patient on infection control tips and encouraged her to use PPE effectively and to get her groceries delivered and sanitized. To further reassure her, I performed a COVID swab for her and urged her to see one of the doctors at our clinic to get a prescription for an anxiolytic medication until her swab results returned. After two days, the patient’s test result came back negative, and she was extremely grateful for the reassurance, counselling tips and empathetic service that I had provided. It is true that every cloud has a silver lining. While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our mental health, it has also provided an opportunity for pharmacists to demonstrate our value and commitment to our communities.
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