Local pharmacist dealing with surge in testing demands, staffing shortages

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CARMEL — Pharmacies across the state right now are busier than ever before, between people searching high and low for COVID-19 tests and most drug stores already dealing with staffing shortages – there has never been more work to be done.

Locally, Sam Calcuttawala, a pharmacist and the co-owner of Carmel Prescription Shop knows the nationwide issues all too well.

”Right at Christmas it just exploded,” he said.

Calcuttawala said he never imagined a wave of people needing tests like the pharmacy has experienced since the holiday. They haven’t had at-home COVID tests in stock in more than a week.

”We quite literally went through hundreds of them in two days,” Green said.

Carmel Prescription Shop also offers rapid COVID testing and various vaccines and boosters. Calcuttawala said the need for all those services has gone up as well, making it tough for his staff to keep up.

”Sometimes when there is multiple things happening at the same time you simply physically can’t get to those,” Calcuttawala said.

The simple answer is to hire more staff, but pharmacies, like many industries, are going through a staffing shortage right now.

”The number one thing I hear is related to pharmacy technicians and having difficulty in filling those positions,” said Darren Covington, the Executive Vice President of the Indiana Pharmacists Association.

Covington said nationwide, pharmacies are having trouble finding technicians and even pharmacists, thanks to COVID-19 burnout.

Covington said this could lead to delays, even appointments being canceled at your local pharmacies. Some pharmacies may even close early becuase of sudden staff absences due to COVID-19 quarantine.

Calcuttawala said he’s never had to close, but he has had to move appointments on a few occasions.

He’s asking people to have a little patience with their pharmacists right now.

”Their goal is to help people,” he said. “It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s because there is an overwhelming demand.”

As for when shortages could end, Covington said it’s tough to predict the future but as long as the pandemic continues, pharmacies will be in need.

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