PHOTO: Bayshore Pharmacy at the Foodtown Shopping Plaza
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – Both Bayshore Pharmacy at the Foodtown Shopping Plaza and Middletown Family Pharmacy in Campbells Junction have been able to keep up their supply of over the counter medications without any problem during the Corona virus crisis. Both stores also report their deliveries have tripled in the past week.
Richard Stryker, the second generation of his family at the Bayshore Plaza store which opened 55 years ago, and the company’s Middletown Family pharmacy which Stryker and his partner Scott Eagleton purchased three years ago, attribute their success with keeping supplied to the fact they receive six deliveries a week and can restock daily on most items. Stryker said because the stores use their own delivery car and do not rely on the postal service or FedEx, they immediately increased staff to respond to the anticipated need. The pharmacies have also doubled their delivery staff and implemented an emergency process in order to provide up to 4 times their already increased delivery ability.
“Many of our new delivery patients are, indeed, practicing community distancing and we are providing "no contact" deliveries for anyone who wishes or needs to avoid contact with the community,” Stryker, who has been at the Pharmacy 29 years, said. Both stores also offer curbside pickup for customers who request it.
Both pharmacies have seen a large increase in the number of patients using their services, the pharmacist continued. He attributes that to three different possibilities: one that regular patients appear to be returning to ‘stock up’ on needed medications, another possibility is new customers coming in because they could not get their medications at their regular pharmacies, and a third possibility is because shoppers are looking for many other items other than medications, gifts, board games, snacks, drinks, cell phone supplies, in their efforts to stay more local, avoid large gathering spots and have as little contact as possible.
Stryker said there has been an overrun on sanitizers, TP, Tylenol and thermometers and conceded he does not always have them available at this time. However, there have been no widespread shortages of prescription medications, though he has heard the possibility some imported drugs might be difficult to secure in the future. “But there do not seem to be any actual shortages,” he added.
“Many patients have already reached out for their maintenance medications to be filled and we have been working with patients who are using mail order who may not get their medications for up to two weeks,” Stryker said, adding, “We are reaching out to get their medications filled at the pharmacy, covered by insurance, and delivered to them the same day.” He said he has learned that many of the large chains only receive deliveries once or twice a book and cannot increase their orders sufficiently to respond to a crisis as quickly as a company like the two pharmacies that receive orders six days a week.
“We are complying with the operating times set by the Governor and remain open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 8pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10 to 4. This is a slight change from the usually open six days a week until 9 p.m. “We are a pharmacy first and a retail store second,” Stryker said, “ so there is always a registered pharmacist on site during our hours to answer questions, counsel patients, and provide comfort. That pharmacist is usually an owner and always a neighbor.”
“The fear we are seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic is comparable to the Superstorm Sandy response in many ways and differs in even more, “Stryker continued. “Patients are worried and trying to get through one day at a time. We offer reassurance and help our patients by providing as much factual information, in person, as possible.” What is different, he added is that while people could travel away from Sandy's devastation and seek help in other areas “there is no place to go right now-- the entire world is experiencing the same thing simultaneously. Unlike Sandy, while the power is on and the water is running patients are unsure if the person next to them has asymptomatic COVID infection or if they themselves are infected. That causes a tremendous amount of stress. Our response is to ask that people stay calm, practice safe distancing of 6 to 10 feet in public and continue to sanitize surfaces and hands constantly. At the pharmacy, we are following those same guidelines for both our patients and employees' safety.”