JEERS to drug stores — pharmacies, in particular — that don’t have antibacterial gel available for customer use. Besides hospitals and doctor’s offices, pharmacies are the main spot to find a gathering of sick people. While most people who are ill would prefer to have someone else pick up their prescriptions, that is not always possible. So it is not unusual to see a few people slumped in chairs, sneezing, blowing their noses or flush with fever while waiting for their prescriptions to be filled. And, yet, a number of local pharmacies don’t have available the foam or gel antibacterial wash that you see in local hospital corridors.
We received this testimony from a longtime registered nurse from our area, Deborah Ribis, who is now nurse case manager for DLR Legal Nurse Consulting:
“On Jan. 3, I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and get a flu shot (better late than never). I had to wait for about 30 minutes in the pharmacy area and had the opportunity to observe customers coming and going to get their prescriptions.
“Several were obviously ill with upper respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing etc.). There were a couple that used their hands to cover their cough or sneeze, and the others just didn’t bother.
“I asked the young woman waiting on them if she had any antibacterial wipes to wipe down the pen, credit-card pad machine (which had obvious dried “something” on it) and desk and for antibacterial gel for customers to use on their hands. The young woman looked like I had asked for a carton of plutonium.
“In contrast, last week I took my grandson for a haircut, and there on the cashier counter was an economy-size bottle of antibacterial gel for customers.
“When I finished my purchases at the pharmacy, I checked out at the front register and again noted the same lack of supplies. It escapes reason that a pharmacy, a place where a good majority of their customers might be ill with a contagious disease, has nothing available for customers to try to possibly reduce their chances of picking up some potentially very nasty germs.
“Not all services are available at the drive-thru pharmacy window. Maybe it is a way to ensure future customers?
“Congratulations to the Press-Republican on their article Friday about the flu and GI bugs going around. Perhaps you could take it a step further and see which businesses in town are showing any concern for their customers, either by providing hand cleansers or even by sending their sick employees home.
“There are many people who are immunocompromised or at high risk if they pick up one of these infections going around the community.
“Maybe businesses, especially those who have large populations who fit both categories, like pharmacies, should take some responsibility for their employees and customers alike and make some attempt at prevention.”
We think Ribis expressed this perfectly. Washing hands is the No. 1 way to curtail the spread of germs. It makes good sense for businesses to contribute to that cause.