CONCORD, N.C. — The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a huge burden on the health care system, but according to an article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community pharmacies played a big role in filling the gaps of critical health services.

What You Need To Know

  • Pharmacies played a big role in filling gaps of critical health services during the pandemic

  • Local pharmacists say this has expanded their role in the community

  • They’re doing more community outreach

Dr. Abi Scott, pharmacist at Moose Pharmacy in Concord, has seen this firsthand.

She makes home visits a few times a week, depending on her schedule, and learns what patients need.

Scott will deliver medicine, administer the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot and talk with patients. She treats it as a wellness check.

"I ask them, 'are these things working for you? How’s it going? Are you checking your blood pressure, checking your blood sugar?'” Scott said.

She values these home visits. It’s what brought her from Oklahoma to North Carolina, because Moose Pharmacy values this too.

“They just were a really good fit for who I wanted to work with, the things I wanted to do,” Scott said.

These more frequent home visits are one way she has seen her role expand during the pandemic.

“We already did delivery,” Scott said. "We did this for years, but what about those people who are homebound and now they can’t get to their appointments, we had to get creative with it.”

One of those visits on her route is for a man named Jimmy Rayhelms. He has cancer and is at higher risk during this pandemic.

Rayhelms says he appreciates the pharmacy coming to him.

"They are good to me cause they know I am unable to come out there,” he said.

Scott sees how this expanded role is already impacting the people Moose Pharmacy serves.

“I feel like it helps them trust us,” Scott said. “So when we say, 'hey, you [need] to do this to help your diabetes' or whatever, we have more trust.”

Scott expects this role to continue.

"I am a part of the community, so I want to be a part of their community and have a big role in their life,” she said.

Along with going from home to home, the pharmacy also reaches out to patients to talk to them about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy is seeing the expanded role as a trend that’s happening nationally.

They say community pharmacies will continue to play a bigger role in their patients' care.