Preventing an Outbreak
Published on 20 October 2020
Long-term care residents are at higher risk for infection, serious illness and death from COVID-19 and their close living quarters provide the perfect conditions for coronavirus to spread between residents and staff.
In order to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, many long-term care facilities have been forced to shut their doors to protect residents.
As a result, health care professionals like Carol Hotze Hermann, B.S. ’91, clinical consultant pharmacist at Omnicare, have quickly adapted to meet the needs of this vulnerable patient population.
“Many health care providers have stopped entering nursing homes to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Hermann said. “It’s surprising how much has changed in such a short amount of time.”
In her role with Omnicare, a CVS Health company which provides long-term care pharmacy services, Hermann used to drive more than 2,000 miles each month while making her rounds visiting 19 long-term care facilities.
Since March, Hermann has been conducting monthly medication regimen reviews and making medication recommendations remotely.
“This pandemic has forced everyone to work in new and different ways, and it’s validating the critical role that pharmacists play on health care teams,” she said. “We are the medication experts and the pandemic solidifies how important it is to educate others on medications.”
Hermann regularly collaborates via video conferencing with an interprofessional health care team consisting of nurses, social workers, dietitians and physicians.
“There is a lot of information coming out about medications being used to treat COVID-19, and as pharmacists we are the authority on educating those in long-term care facilities, members of the health care team and the families and friends of patients on the benefits and risks of these medications,” she said.
During the pandemic, Hermann is using her expertise as a pharmacist to ensure that medication decisions are made based on what is best for her patients when factoring in COVID-19 ramifications and her patients’ specific comorbidities to ensure that medication benefits outweigh their risks.
“To help prevent a potential COVID-19 outbreak, we are reducing nebulized medications where possible to reduce the potential for health care providers to become exposed,” Hermann said. "Consultant pharmacists also are discontinuing or reducing non-crucial treatments where possible, such as vitamin therapies, lab draws and PRN treatments to reduce frequency of medication pass times in order to help eliminate additional points of contact.”
With health care information rapidly changing during the pandemic, Hermann says staying up to date on COVID-19 treatment data and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been critical.
“It is vital to our patients’ well-being that we stay updated on best practices and take precautions in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure,” she added. “We’re concerned about the age and frailty of our patients, as well as their comorbidities, so we’re continuing to adapt to meet their needs by finding new ways to provide the best patient care possible.”
As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the United States, University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis students, faculty and alumni are working tirelessly and risking their personal health and safety to provide care to patients.
To recognize a health care hero within our community, email firstname.lastname@example.org.