S.T.HENG1, T.M.NG1, A.Q.J.CHUA2, L.Q.HELENA2, L.Y.HSU2, H.Y.LIM1, H.L.LAW3, W.P.LIM1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1, National University of Singapore2, National Centre for Infectious Diseases3
Pharmacy from all settings worldwide increasingly documented their essential roles in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
A qualitative study on hospital pharmacists were conducted in two major hospitals managing most COVID-19 cases in Singapore through semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed using Braun and Clarke’s reflexive thematic analysis.
Twenty-six hospital pharmacists from the two hospitals were included. Pharmacy preparedness for pandemic, major pharmacy operation changes as part of COVID-19 responses, overall resilience against crises, and strategies to improve pharmacy pandemic responses were identified as major themes. Minimizing face-to-face patient interactions, extension of working hours and leave restrictions, as well as social segregations and remote working were adopted by pharmacy staff during COVID-19. Establishment of screening centre pharmacy at an outbreak centre, scaling up of medication delivery, piloting of tele-consult services, cancellation or deferment of non-pandemic related services and trainings, and new opportunities for pharmacy collaborations were described. Significant supply disruptions and restrictions were also observed country-wide. Pharmacy preparedness and resilience were described at individual, system, and organisational levels. Possible strategies in the areas of supply chain resilience, community vaccination, partnership between pharmacies and communication flows were suggested by participants to improve pharmacy responses.
Pharmacy contributed significantly during COVID-19 pandemic through various roles in emergency preparedness and responses. Facets of resilience were displayed at multiple levels within pharmacy. The study findings also provided directions for improving pharmacy against future pandemics.