Jeff Kottkamp: Independent Pharmacies Help in the Fight Against Coronavirus

Everyone that lived through the 9/11 terrorists attacks will forever remember the pictures of firefighters bravely running into the World Trade Center while everyone else was running out.

They did so with utter disregard for their personal safety.  They did so to save lives.  They did so because it was their job.  On that day the bravery and selflessness displayed by all first responders made us all proud and deepened our respect and admiration for firefighters, law enforcement, paramedics and everyone who answered the call of duty in response to the attacks.

Of the 2,977 victims killed in the 9/11 attacks, 412 were emergency workers in New York who responded to the World Trade Center.  This included 343 firefighters, 60 police officers and eight paramedics.  All were heroes.

The U.S. Surgeon General has described the COVID-19 pandemic as this generation’s 9/11. If that is true—then the healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic are the heroes of today.

Just as first responders ran into burning buildings to save others—each day doctors, nurses, technicians and staff at hospitals go into work every day to save lives—all the while knowing they are putting their own well-being in jeopardy.

Data regarding the impact of the virus on healthcare workers is difficult to find.  At least 10,000 medical workers have tested positive with the COVID-19.

According to the Associated Press, at least 27 medical professionals have died from the virus.  This is a reality that healthcare workers face every day as they treat coronavirus patients.

These daily acts of heroism in the fight against COVID-19 have caught the attention of people all across the country.  In many neighborhoods, people stand outside their front door and applaud doctors and nurses as they are leaving for work in the morning.  Police and firefighters have lined city streets and cheered on hospital staff as they walk in to work.

There is another group of unsung heroes that should be recognized as well—our independent pharmacists.  They go to work each day to make sure the patients they serve receive the life-sustaining prescription medications they need.

In Florida, we have 1,350 independent pharmacies.  Independent pharmacists are professionally trained small business owners that have nine employees on average.  Each pharmacy fills about 59,000 prescriptions per year.  Many independent pharmacies serve low-income neighborhoods that the big chains refuse to go in to.

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly all small business pharmacies delivered prescriptions to elderly and disabled patients who were unable to leave their homes.

Those same pharmacies have dramatically increased the number of deliveries they are making to ensure patients do not put themselves in jeopardy by leaving their homes during the pandemic.

This is especially important to patients who are over 65 or are immune-compromised.  Pharmacies are not being compensated for these deliveries—they do it because they care about the patients they serve.

Pharmacists know your life depends on receiving the drugs prescribed to you by your doctor.  Like others in the healthcare industry—pharmacists selflessly go to work each day with only one thing in mind…taking care of patients.  We should all be grateful to everyone serving on the front lines of this battle.  To all of the doctors, nurses, technicians, janitors, paramedics, EMTs, and pharmacists—thank you.


Jeff Kottkamp is the president of Jeff Kottkamp, P.A. and served as Florida’s 17th Lieutenant Governor.


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