By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
The world has changed more than anyone thought possible. Face masks are the norm, holidays abroad a distant memory, and many of us are still separated from loved ones. But while there are plenty of things we can’t do right now, we can learn how to take care of our health.
Health care has changed perhaps more than anything, and it continues to evolve. The simplest things, from a routine check-up to a repeat prescription, are suddenly very confusing and many don’t know where to start. But fear not. Pharmacies are here to help you navigate the new normal of health care.
Pharmacies play a key role in supporting everyone through this pandemic. We’ve stayed open throughout, providing an essential contact point for your worries and concerns. We can help demystify public health guidance to prevent the spread of infection, while also offering advice on supporting your immune system, and managing long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and asthma during this difficult time.
One of our most important jobs is helping you assess new and ongoing conditions and the next steps to take. If you need to see a doctor, this can be done through telemedicine. Available at almost all GPs, telemedicine uses video-conferencing so you can talk to a doctor or other health care staff. Using your webcam on your PC, or a tablet or smartphone, you can have appointments with medical professionals just as you would in person. This helps protect you and your doctor from infection, reduces the stress and cost of travel, and delivers the same quality of care you’d expect from your usual appointments. You can also, if required, speak to experts wherever they are in the country.
If you do arrange an appointment, it’s important to prepare. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and be ready to explain three key points – your most urgent symptom, how long it’s been going on, and any changes that have occurred in that time. If you speak to a nurse or other member of staff first, be as clear and succinct as you can – this will help your doctor prepare too. And rest assured – telemedicine appointments are entirely private and confidential.
But what to do in an emergency? If you are experiencing serious symptoms, such as chest pain, weakness in one side of the face or body, or sudden difficulty breathing – act as you would have pre-pandemic and call 911 immediately. If you have a lesser but still urgent issue, like a high fever or a minor injury, contact your GP and they will advise you on how to proceed. Many urgent care centers and walk-in clinics are also offering telemedicine, so check those out too.
Doctors can send your prescriptions to the pharmacy as normal. It is always helpful to call ahead to make sure your pharmacy has what you need before you make the trip to collect it. When you do come to visit, please be patient with staff and customers, keeping a two-metre distance and following the social distancing rules in place, such as a one-way system. There are also options for prescription delivery if you are unable to leave your home.
For more general advice, your pharmacy is ready and waiting – online and in person. We have all your supplies from multivitamins like One-A-Day, Olly and Smarty Pants and painkillers like Tylenol and Advil, to hand sanitisers (look for an ethyl alcohol content of more than 70%) and sunscreen like Coppertone, Australia Gold, Neutrogena and Banana Boat. If you have coronavirus symptoms such as a new, continuous cough, a fever and/or loss of taste and smell, do not leave home. Contact your pharmacist or GP for advice on managing your symptoms. And if you have questions at all, your pharmacy is happy to help. It’s true what they say: we’re all in this together.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.