TORONTO, April 16 /CNW/ - Funding cuts to Ontario pharmacists would have a devastating effect on patients, particularly those cared for by independent pharmacists, Janet McCutchon, vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association, told the Economic Club of Canada yesterday.
McCutchon is the co-owner one of two small, independent pharmacies in Thunder Bay, where more than 20,000 residents don't have a family doctor.
"Many people have chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, but without access to primary care, they're managed through walk-in clinics and emergency departments," McCutchon said. "The pharmacy I run is an integral part of the health care system and is often a lifeline of support and relevant information for patients who have nowhere else to turn."
In addition to filling approximately 250 prescriptions per day, her team is available to patients, the regional hospital and fellow healthcare providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week for emergency needs. The pharmacists coordinate the management of patient care from hospital to home, and consult on intravenous medications and palliative care for patients who want to spend their last days at home.
"We treat seniors and those with chronic illness. We care for shut-ins and work closely with home care providers to ensure multiple medications are properly administered and used appropriately. We run flu-shot, diabetes and cholesterol clinics. We help train patients on the use of their blood glucose monitors, blood pressure machines and asthma inhalers. We collaborate with fellow healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible patient care. We care for the healthy, the terminally ill and everyone in between.
The proposed cuts by our government amount to an average of $300,000 - per pharmacy, per year -- the equivalent salary of three pharmacists.
McCutchon said taking this money out of neighbourhood healthcare would be a devastating blow to patients and the pharmacists who care for them, especially at small independent pharmacies, which make up the majority of pharmacies in Ontario.
"These cuts mean that I will have no choice but to cut my team," McCutchon said. "Residents of Thunder Bay will no longer be able to rely on someone being behind the pharmacy counter, or on the other end of the phone line, whenever they need us. We will also have to look at reducing our operating hours, especially on-call service."
In rural and northern areas, a pharmacist might be the only health care provider available within hundreds of kilometers.
There is an increasing demand for the kind of care pharmacists provide, but it is this kind of service that is at risk if the proposed funding cuts are implemented, McCutchon said.
"Altogether we end up with a situation where we have an increasing level of demand for the frontline health care we provide, with fewer hours, fewer pharmacists - and in some areas of the province - fewer locations."
About the Ontario Pharmacists' Association
The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 11,000 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients.
SOURCE Ontario Pharmacists' Association
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