Throughout the 2015/16 fiscal year, the BC Pharmacy Association continued to raise the profile of pharmacists through its media relations and advocacy work. This is an important part of ensuring pharmacy is recognized and treated as an integral part of the inter-disciplinary health care team and therefore vital to the planning and provision of health care to the public.
In November 2015, the Ministry of Health and BCPhA kicked off the annual flu season campaign with a news release and media event at Parliament. BCPhA past-president David Pavan gave a flu shot to Darryl Plecas, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors to the Health Minister, and several media outlets covered the event.
Then, at the end of 2015 as B.C. prepared to welcome an influx of refugees from Syria, the BCPhA put out a request for Arabic-speaking community pharmacists who were willing to help with immunizations and orientation for newcomers. The response exceeded expectations, with more than 40 BCPhA members from across the province offering to get involved.
In February 2016, a family of privately sponsored refugees visited a Shoppers Drug Mart in Surrey to receive their flu shots. The government was pleased to hear about the work community pharmacists were doing and Health Minister Terry Lake and Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux joined BCPhA Board member Mark Dickson to welcome the Alkarkhi family at their immunization.
Pharmacy manager Mohamed Kayed said he felt compelled to step up and help care for the influx of refugees from the Middle East because of his understanding of their language, culture and mindset.
“Pharmacists are the only health care providers who, on a daily basis, interact with refugees and can know their urgent needs,” Kayed says. “We can communicate efficiently with anyone.”
In January 2016, the Association worked with the Ministry of Health to issue a news release about changes to the BC Smoking Cessation Program that allowed patients to visit community pharmacies directly to join the program and access free NRT products. BCPhA director of pharmacy practice support Derek Desrosiers was also interviewed on Global BC.
March saw the annual Pharmacist Awareness Month campaign focusing on the servivces pharmacists offer patients that are #MoreThanPills. Stories on the BCPhA website and Twitter account looked at pharmacy-managed warfarin, telepharmacy and profiled pharmacists Regan Ready, Ellen Bovair and People’s Drug Mart in Port McNeill.
In May 2016, the BCPhA continued to run the Medications Return Campaign to promote the positive role community pharmacy plays in the safe disposal of medications.
The Association partnered with the Vancouver Police Department, Metro Vancouver, London Drugs and the Health Products Stewardship Association HPSA to urge the public to safely dispose of their medications. An event at London Drugs on May 16 received media coverage on CBC Radio, CTV News, News1130 and BCIT Evolution Radio.
The week was designed to coincide with National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day on May 21, 2016. Messaging also reminded the public that they could return their medications at any time during the year to their pharmacy through the Medications Return Program. The BCPhA developed a new “Fish can’t say no to drugs” video which launched on the same day as the media event and was posted on the BCPhA website, promoted on our Twitter account using the hashtag #ReturnYourMeds and cross-promoted by the regional districts throughout BC.
The BCPhA also partnered with several regional districts to issue joint press releases in the Capital Regional District, Squamish-Lillooet, Northern BC, Alberni-Clayoquot, Central Okanagan and Nanaimo. Coverage was received in several regions, including Nanaimo News Bulletin, Kelowna Now, Kelowna Daily Courier, Goldstream News Gazette and the Bridge River Lillooet News.