Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed an executive order allowing for pharmacies to begin onsite COVID-19 testing.
However, some pharmacy owners say a lot needs to be figured out before local pharmacies are ready to do that.
“We would like to do it if the options work out, but right now there’s so many questions,” said Clayton’s Pharmacy owner Lisa Moorhead.
Questions that some local pharmacists say can’t be answered in a short period of time. Now independent pharmacies are trying to figure out how and where to get reliable testing kits. “It’s a matter of really finding the right tests that are out there, and hopefully there will be some antibody tests that will be coming along that we’ll be able to do that will give people a little bit more of an answer to whether they’ve been exposed or if they have the antibodies,” said Pemberton Pharmacy owner Craig Schury.
On May 19th, Governor Hogan signed the executive order allowing testing. Pharmacies 47ABC spoke with say little guidance has been given other than the order that they’ve been given the green light. “The biggest concerns are how do we bill for it, and right now even though Hogan gave us the authority to do it out of prescription, there’s still laws in effect that you have to get a waiver through the state to be able to do it,” said Moorhead.
On top of that, pharmacies are also facing the issue of having enough PPE if and when they do start administering COVID-19 tests. Plus, pharmacists say they need to make sure there are enough staff on hand to handle testing and day-to-day operations. “We only have two pharmacists. we’re a limited staff and we’re independent, so making a schedule when we’re both available to have one of us doing that one of us in here,” said Moorhead.
Clayton’s Pharmacy says that doing COVID-19 testing in their parking lot could be a future option. For now they’re focused on continuing to serve their patrons with curbside service.
Pharmacists also say that it isn’t yet clear on how they’ll be reimbursed for purchasing tests and administering them for free. They tell 47ABC that a number of independent pharmacists on the Eastern Shore are part of a group called Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network. Right now they say they are working together to navigate questions raised by the executive order.
Owners of independent pharmacies say that despite the questions and confusion, the biggest issue at hand is maintaining the trust they’ve spent years building with their communities. “We see our patients many times in a month sometimes, and for them to trust in us to be able to this testing is really important,” said Schury.