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Tips for Getting Medications Safely During COVID-19

May 08, 2020

Medications are such an important part of keeping well and health. Keeping yourself as safe as possible in getting medications can be a challenge in light of COVID-19, especially for those at higher risk. Some of these higher risk groups include individuals with chronic lung disease, serious heart conditions, are immune compromised or have diabetes, to name a few.

Nicholas Arsenault, a Transitional Care Nurse with Hartford HealthCare’s Center for Healthy Aging offers a few simple steps you can take to empower and protect yourself during these times:

  • Consider getting your medications delivered to your home. Talk with your current pharmacy to see if they offer home delivery. Many larger chain pharmacies provide this service, but some smaller, local pharmacies also offer this service.
  • Look to your insurance pharmacy benefits. Some insurance and prescription drug plans, either commercial or Medicare, offer some savings for using a home delivery medication program.
  • If you are not able to get medication delivery from a pharmacy, talk with a family member, caregiver, friend or trusted neighbor to see if they would be able to pick up the medication for you. The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows the pharmacist to give the filled prescription to a relative or friend. They could drop them off at your door while maintaining physical distancing. Be certain they have your phone number or method of notifying you when they have dropped off your medication so you can bring it into your home.
  • To get your medication filled or to check on the status of it, you can contact the pharmacy by phone or through an online portal. Talk with your local pharmacy team to find out the easiest, safest and best way for you to address these needs.
  • Be mindful of how much medication you have remaining. A good rule of thumb is to ensure you have 7-10 days’ worth so you do not run out. When you are coming close to that 7-10-day window, notify your pharmacist that you need a refill to allow enough time to obtain one from your healthcare provider. Many insurance plans are relaxing the refill limitations so that you can obtain larger quantities of medications now.
  • Discuss with your healthcare provider and/or pharmacist about obtaining your prescriptions as a 90-day supply. This is especially appropriate if the medications you take are for long-term condition management. Having a 90-day supply can reduce the number of visits you might need to make to your pharmacy. Also, look at your pharmacy insurance benefits; there may be a cost savings for getting a 90-day supply.
  • Check how many refills you have remaining on your medications. Talk with your healthcare provider and develop a plan to ensure he or she will be able to continue refilling your medication, if necessary. Your provider may agree to refill your medications for you, but others may want to “see” you before refilling a medication. Talk with your provider about the ability to have a telehealth visit by means of a video call over your smartphone, tablet or computer. If you don’t have such devices, ask if they can do a visit via telephone to minimize having to see your provider in the office.
  • If you must venture to your pharmacy in person, simple steps can be taken to keep yourself protected as much as possible. Some pharmacies may offer special hours for seniors over 65 or those with health conditions that place them at higher risk who must visit in person.
    • Be aware of your surroundings and maintain 6 feet of space between yourself and others.
    • Wear a face mask or covering that covers your nose and mouth.
    • Follow the arrows in the aisles.
    • Have your method of payment ready to minimize having to touch multiple items in your purse or wallet to reduce contamination of other items. Consider using a credit or debit card instead of cash.
    • Liberally use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol after touching any surfaces, credit card terminals, pens or other objects – be sure to sanitize your hands before getting into your car as well and wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds when you return home.
    • Have cleaning/sanitizing wipes to wipe down high-touch surfaces once in your vehicle such as the steering wheel, door handles, keys, cellphone and window controls.

If you are sick or feeling unwell, it is important that you remain home. Staying home will reduce the chance of infecting someone else. Contact your doctor for guidance – they will work with you to determine what kind of visit will provide you the best and safest care possible.

  • In-person visits may be reserved for visits where your healthcare provider must see you and they will be able to determine this during your conversation
  • Virtual visits by phone, tablet or laptop
  • If you must go to the emergency department, call ahead and wear a mask.

Job loss, lack of insurance and new expenses resulting from COVID-19 have presented financial challenges to affording medications. If you are on Medicare and qualify based on income, you can apply for Extra Help through Social Security or at the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp.

These are a few of the simple steps to get your medications while reducing your potential exposure to COVID-19. When in doubt, use caution and contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist to address your concerns and help you find an easier way to get your medications.

If you’re looking for a pharmacy or resources and support in your area, call the Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging at 1.877.424.4641.

Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

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