Medical professionals have worked on the front lines for months, fighting off a worldwide pandemic.
In Orangeburg, one business, Grove Park Pharmacy, has taken steps to ensure it can continue providing the medical services that so many in the community depend on each day.
“We are an essential business and we have a huge responsibility to our patients to make sure they have their medications,” owner Charles Thompson said. “We serve over 7,000 patients every month.”
One area especially, its hospice care, had to ensure patients were not put at risk.
“Some of our patients had suggested a decrease in visits due to exposure,” Clinical Director Wendy Dantzler said.
Fortunately, the hospice case has been able to continue functioning throughout.
“We added a lot of telephonic visits for patients, over the phone and over video chat to keep up with them and keep an eye on things,” Dantzler said.
As a result, “None of our patients or staff has been exposed or contracted it,” Dantzler said. “We’ve been very fortunate.”
With around 85 employees, Grove Park took precautions throughout the entire business to ensure everyone’s safety.
Every 15 to 20 minutes, an employee goes around the pharmacy to wipe down and disinfect anything that a customer or employee would touch, such as the waiting chairs, counters, keyboards and front door handles.
“You can’t walk five feet without seeing a bottle of hand sanitizer,” Thompson said. “In a time like this, you certainly don’t want to catch any type of infection, a cold, cough or anything because it would compromise your immune system.”
Employees working in departments such as billing and intake where the job could be done remotely were able to work from home.
The same was done for those who were at-risk or living with family members in an at-risk group.
Thompson said traffic throughout Grove Park has been very uneven and unpredictable.
“Normally, we can predict how busy we’ll be and how much staff to have,” Thompson said. “Since this pandemic, we’ve had spurts where we’re overrun and we’ve had spurts where it’s been slower than normal.”
“Plus, we’ve tried to encourage people to use our drive-in window which slows things down a bit and we have fewer people coming inside,” he added.
Thompson said there were problems with drug shortages and supply shortages.
He said they had problems finding items for everyday use like everyone else, such as toilet paper and paper towels, but also pharmaceuticals that are hard to get. They prepared ahead by increasing their inventory.
“We probably increased our inventory by 20 percent to be prepared in case there were severe shortages,” Thompson said. “We stocked up on especially a lot of diabetic medications and blood pressure medications.”
Thompson was proud to say that all of Grove Park’s employees were kept on the payroll.
They even increased hourly pay, referring to it as combat pay, “because they are literally putting their lives on the line every day,” Thompson said.
“Our employees are our best and biggest asset,” he said. “It’s been a challenge for us to keep a steady flow of products and services that we need to deliver to our patients.”
“Our employees understand this and some of them have worked extra, worked a lot of overtime, they’ve pitched in for the ones that can’t work,” he said.
Thompson said he’s been humbled and amazed at how the staff has risen to the occasion.
“I’m just so indebted to them,” he said. “It’s been an eye opener to me to see how dedicated and how caring all of our employees are.
“This virus, this pandemic has been challenging but it has not slowed us down a bit. In fact, we’ve stepped up our game. I feel like every one of our employees are unsung heroes.”