We applaud Gov. Hochul for directing $1.5B to address staff shortages of Direct Support Professionals

 

[Hempstead, Nov. 19, 2021] At Community Care Rx, we applaud Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement yesterday that the New York Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) will provide more than $1.5 billion in one-time American Rescue Plan Act funding to address critical staff shortages of direct support professionals (DSPs).

 

The funds will support recruitment efforts, retention incentives and vaccination bonuses for DSPs, who provide essential services for people with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities.

 

As the premier long-term-care pharmacy in the New York metropolitan area, Community Care Rx works with many OPWDD group homes and other facilities staffed by DSPs. We have observed firsthand the dire need to address severe shortages of these compassionate and dedicated workers, who are the backbone of the care delivery system. The pandemic exacerbated the depletion of these overworked individuals, whose work is critical to ensuring the safety and well-being and increasing the quality of life of individuals with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities.

 

We thank Governor Hochul and Acting OPWDD Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld for their leadership in not only addressing the emergency staffing shortages of today but in developing a plan to support the long-term stability of the DSP workforce. Effective long-term recruitment and retention strategies will ultimately lead to better services for tens of thousands of New Yorkers with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

Newsletter October 2021

BREAKING: CDC panel recommends COVID-19 boosters for long-term care residents

Danielle Brown

Long-term care residents are one step closer to receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shots after an advisory panel affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved a key recommendation Thursday. 

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for select adult populations, including residents living in long-term care facilities and seniors aged 65 and older. 

The third dose is only available for those who were initially vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, not Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. Moderna has submitted data to federal health officials on its own booster shot. 

The committee’s recommendation now will head to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky for final approval. Shots can begin being administered immediately if she approves the recommendations. 

The panel also recommended that people ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions receive a third dose, and for adults ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions. The advisory group however did not extend that recommendation to people who work in high-risk settings for COVID-19 transmission. 

The approval came a day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the single booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine for older adults and high-risk patients six months after receiving their second shot.

 

FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine not enough to convince hesitant caregivers to roll up their sleeves

Kimberly Bonvissuto

Credit: Caring.com

The Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has done little to instill confidence in vaccine safety and effectiveness for unvaccinated caregivers, according to the results of a new survey.

Caring.com and Pollfish survey of 2,000 caregivers — 1,000 professional and 1,000 unpaid — found that one in three (31%) unvaccinated caregivers, overall, say they will refuse the shot, now marketed under the brand name Comirnaty — up from 19% prior to full FDA approval. Of professional caregivers, 28.4% reported they would refuse the shot indefinitely, up from 22.2% in the prior survey. 

Overall, professional caregivers reported slightly less hesitation than unpaid caregivers in getting vaccinated, but that hesitation actually increased after the FDA’s announcement. The study contrasts responses from caregivers three days after the FDA’s announcement with responses to the same survey conducted 10 days before the announcement.

The bottom line is, full FDA approval did not motivate caregivers to take steps toward vaccination.

“While it’s expected that the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine would take more time to increase the number of fully vaccinated caregivers, the fact that it has not motivated caregivers to take concrete steps towards full vaccination is concerning,” according to a report on the survey. “Overall, there is no substantial shift in the number of fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated caregivers between the survey completed before the FDA’s announcement and the survey completed afterward.”

Although lack of full approval of vaccines was the main reason for caregivers doubting its safety, more caregivers turned against the vaccine and actually are less trusting of its safety after full FDA approval, according to survey responses.

Overall, 35% of vaccine-hesitant paid and unpaid caregivers now say they have concerns about the safety and testng of the COVID-19 vaccines, up from 29% before the announcement. When it comes to professional caregivers, 28.4% reported that they have concerns about safety and testing of vaccines, up from 20.8% in the prior survey.

“Counterintuitively, more caregivers are saying they distrust the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccines now than prior to the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine — 20% more doubt the safety of the COVID vaccines, while 13% more now doubt their effectiveness,” a Caring.com report on the survey stated. “Additionally, more caregivers also list a general distrust of vaccines as a reason for remaining unvaccinated.”

More than half of vaccine-hesitant paid and unpaid caregivers still say they would rather lose their jobs than get a shot under an employer vaccine mandate. When it comes to mandates, not a lot has changed from the prior survey; for professional caregivers, the number of undecideds on vaccination when required rose from 22% to 26%, whereas the number who said they would get the vaccine dropped from 26% to 22%. 

“Based on this data, mandates may be the only remaining step that will significantly impact caregivers’ decision to get the shot,” the Caring.com report stated.

The survey also revealed that participating paid and unpaid caregivers now are more willing to believe that COVID-19 is a hoax. Survey results showed that more than one in 10 caregivers still believe COVID-19 is a hoax and not an actual health crisis. The percentage of professional caregivers who said that coronavirus is a hoax or not a crisis (12% and 8.2%, respectively) in the latest survey remained unchanged from the prior survey.

 

 

CCRCs challenged by caregiver turnover, but nursing homes have it worse: report

Kimberly Bonvissuto

 Turnover rates for certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses in continuing care retirement communities have reached their highest points over the past decade in 2021, according to a new analysis of historical data from the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service.

But the rates in nursing homes were still higher, HCS said.

Among the three positions in CCRCs, CNAs had the highest turnover rate in 2021, at 45.87%, but the rate was 51.38% in nursing homes, according to the 2021-2022 Continuing Care Retirement Community Salary & Benefits and Nursing Homes Salary & Benefits reports.

For LPNs, the 2021 turnover rate was 36.81% in CCRCs, compared with 37.67% for nursing homes. For RNs, the 2021 turnover rate was 40.45% in CCRCs, compared with 41.06% in nursing homes.

For CNAs, turnover was at its lowest point over the past decade in CCRCs in 2013, when the rate was 30.31%, and in nursing homes in 2014, when the rate was 30.15%.

In fact, 2014 marked the low point for turnover over the past decade for both LPNs and RNs in both CCRCs and nursing homes.

For LPNs, 2014 saw a turnover rate of 24.89% in CCRCs, but the rate was higher, 25.18%, in nursing homes.

For RNs, the 2014 turnover rate was 25.55% in CCRCs, but it was higher, 27.55%, in nursing homes. 

The CCRC and nursing home reports can be ordered on the HCS website. The CCRC report is published in cooperation with LeadingAge. The nursing home report is supported by the American Health Care Association and published in cooperation with LeadingAge.

 

 

How to Address Customer Concerns Regarding Uncovered Prescriptions in the Pharmacy Setting

Hossam Maksoud, PharmD

Since pharmacy is a service business, the required process of communicating and educating customers, working closely with physicians, and navigating relief programs can help patients customers address the problems and stress of receiving a denial by their insurance company.

More than one-third of adults reported that their health insurance plan would not cover a drug prescribed by their physician over the past year, according to an NPR poll.1 Upon learning of an insurance company’s denial of coverage for a medication, the patient may become stressed and may also be surprised by this occurrence, leading them to potentially take out their anger on the pharmacist or pharmacy staff they are speaking to.

In this situation, the first step a pharmacist should take is to address the customer’s expectations, which may be based on a lack of information. Many patients may expect that they will receive the drug their doctor prescribes without any complications, and that their insurance will cover the cost of the drug with no obstacles. But more often than not, that isn’t how it works at all.

It is important to educate patients that insurance companies typically have formulary drugs, both generic and brand-name. Within their formulary, insurance companies will have both preferred and non-preferred lists, which will have different co-payment requirements. Once the patient understands this, it is possible to work with them and the physician to assess the best way to proceed.

If there is an alternative drug within the same therapeutic class that would be covered by the customer’s insurance, it is possible to call the physician to suggest it. In many cases, the doctor may decide to try the alternative drug.

However, there may be cases in which the physician may say the patient needs the uncovered drug—perhaps the formulary alternative drug was previously prescribed and did not produce the desired result. Whatever the conversation and decision by the physician may be, the pharmacist is the one who will need to be able to communicate this information to the patient because it is crucial to keep the patient in the loop regarding their health care protocol and requirements.

Additionally, it may be beneficial to work alongside the physician’s office to initiate the prior authorization process to impress upon the insurance company that the drug in question is medically necessary. For pharmacists, making sure the prior authorization process keeps moving along is important as well.

As pharmacists know, prior authorization is not a simple process and it is not uniform across insurance companies. Some companies require more documentation than others and it is a pharmacist’s job to invest in staff who will spend the time to follow up with the insurance company.

This task it vital to find out what else is required and whether there is anything outstanding to coordinate with the physician’s office and ensure the missing documents are submitted in a timely manner. If the prior authorization process is completed and the drug is still denied, it may be necessary to discuss with the physician and the patient whether they want to go through the appeal process.

Naturally, prior authorization takes time—usually several days, at least—and during this time the patient will not be able to take their prescribed medication. As a pharmacist, it may be necessary to opt to let the patient pay out of pocket for 2- or 3-days’ worth of medication while waiting for the decision.

In many instances, this option may not be feasible, such as with inhalation, topical, or ophthalmic drugs or injectables. Some pharmacies may also dispense a couple days’ worth of medication at no charge until the prior authorization is granted, but they run the risk of incurring costs if they get a denial.

This is a risk that some pharmacies are willing to take to ensure their patients are happy and healthy. However, it also can be possible to approach this situation by convincing the insurance company to authorize an emergency supply of a few days’ worth of drugs while the decision is pending.

Sometimes drugs are covered, but at a high out-of-pocket cost to patients. When patients are on maintenance drugs that cost $75 per month, for example, this is not a sustainable cost for many patients. At Community Care’s specialty pharmacy division, we provide specialty drugs in several categories, including rheumatology, dermatology, osteoarthritis, and hepatitis, and many of these drugs have high out-of-pocket costs.

As a pharmacist, it is important to educate patients about the process for obtaining a specialty drug. Many of these medications have no substitutes or alternatives and almost all have high co-pays.

Customers should not hesitate to let their physician know when drugs are beyond their reach in terms of expenses. With specialty drugs, the prior authorization process requires much more documentation and may take longer to complete. In addition, some of these medications will have limited distribution, whereby the drug can only be dispensed by a few particular pharmacies nationwide.

When it comes to cost or co-pays, there are nonprofit organizations that assist low-income individuals with medication expenses. Many biopharmaceutical companies have been expanding their cost-sharing programs in which they help cover out-of-pocket expenses for patients who cannot afford their medications. In addition, some manufacturers offer free trials, which may be a more affordable option for patients.

Furthermore, patients with high out-of-pocket expenses may also realize significant savings by enrolling in a prescription discount card program. As a pharmacist, it may be beneficial to proactively look for coupons and assistance programs and navigate through them for patients to provide the support they may not be able to get anywhere else.

Since pharmacy is, at its heart, a service business, the required process of communicating and educating customers, working closely with physicians, and navigating relief programs offered by manufacturers and nonprofit organizations may help to provide customers with the solutions they need to address the problems and stress of receiving a denial by their insurance company for drugs they may need to maintain their health.

About the Author

Hossam Maksoud is CEO and founder of Community Care Rx, a unique long-term-care pharmacy based in Hempstead, NY, that provides comprehensive pharmacy services to various types of organizations.

Newsletter September 2021

Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office Seizes Domain Name Falsely Purporting to Provide COVID-19 Vaccines

OCI Badge Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

District of Maryland

Website Falsely Purported to Sell COVID-19 Vaccines Online and Provide Same-Day Worldwide Delivery; COVIDReliefSociety.org is the10th Fraudulent Domain Seized by Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and HSI

Baltimore, Maryland – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has seized “COVIDReliefSociety.org” which purported to sell vaccines for the COVID-19 virus online and have them delivered the same day anywhere in the world. Instead the website was allegedly used to collect the personal information of individuals visiting the site, in order to use the information for nefarious purposes, including fraud, phishing attacks, and/or deployment of malware. Individuals visiting the site will now see a message that the site has been seized by the federal government and be redirected to another site for additional information. This is the 10th COVID fraud related domain name seized by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The seizure of the domain name was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations – Baltimore

“This is the 10th fraudulent website taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic that we have seized in recent months,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “In a time when we are urging people to get vaccinated for COVID-19, it is reprehensible that fraudsters are trying to prey on unsuspecting residents and their families. Remember that the COVID vaccine is not for sale, and the federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to people living in the United States. We urge all Maryland residents to be skeptical – don’t provide personal information or click on links in unsolicited e-mails.”

“With the help of HSI’s cybersecurity experts, our office will continue to target bogus websites, social media platforms and any other online forums responsible for advertising counterfeit vaccines, treatments and information for COVID-19,” said Special Agent in Charge for the HSI Baltimore Field Office, James Mancuso. “We will not allow criminal networks to profit from these scams.”

According to the affidavit filed in support of the seizure, the HSI Intellectual Property Rights Center (“IPRC”) and the HSI Cyber Crimes Center (“C3”) discovered an apparent fraudulent website, named “COVIDReliefSociety.org.” A domain analysis conducted by HSI indicated the domain name was created on December 26, 2020.

The HSI Cyber Operations Officer (COO) noted a blog post on the webpage stating “you can now buy Covid-19 Vaccine Online from the Covid-19 Relief Society and have it delivered same day anywhere in the world. The vaccine is for preventing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in people aged 18 years and older. Even though the Covid-19 vaccine distribution is still slow, you can order it online from us the Covid-19 Relief Society. We can offer as much as 2 Million doses in a single expedited delivery. Send inquiries today if you are looking to order Covid-19 Vaccine online.”  This blog post contained a photograph of boxes that contained the text, “Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.” The blog page contains a “Click Here to Buy” button, but it does not appear to function. The website contains an image of what appears to be a screen capture of the Moderna webpage, including the trademarked Moderna logo. The domain name was not authorized to utilize the trademarked Moderna logo, nor to offer their vaccines for sale.

By seizing the site, the government has prevented third parties from acquiring the name and using it to commit additional crimes, as well as prevented third parties from continuing to access the site in its present form.

Federal law enforcement agencies are united in our efforts to fight against COVID-19 fraud.  HSI has identified tips to recognize and report COVID-19 fraud. If you believe you are a victim of a fraud or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you may also call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or for more information visit justice.gov/coronavirus.  

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended HSI for its work in this investigation.  Mr. Lenzner recognized the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Baltimore County Police Department for their assistance and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron S.J. Zelinsky and Sean R. Delaney, who are handling the case.

 

Women’s Health and Community Pharmacies

Representing 50 percent of the population, women have unique needs that require unique products and services that DME pharmacies can provide. That said, pharmacies must also strive to provide knowledgeable, top-shelf care. What goes into accomplishing that?

 

By David Kopf

Apr 01, 2021

 

The primary business imperative for today’s DME pharmacies is ensuring that they diversify their revenues and services and reinforce their status as a healthcare hub for communities. Moreover, they can’t properly execute on those initiatives without providing the right mix of women’s health products and services.

 

Pharmacies must create a business that strives to provide top-shelf care and products for patients and referral partners alike. And that means laying a solid foundation in terms of market understanding, staff expertise, customer care and resources.

 

To help us take a closer look at what’s involved, Nikki Jensen, vice president of Essentially Women (www.essentiallywomen. com), the division of VGM & Associates that providers education, networking and group purchasing for businesses that provides women’s healthcare products, shares some insights and expertise.

 

IDEAL MARKET POSITION

To begin with, DME pharmacies are in a unique position to serve women’s DME/HME needs. Assuming a community pharmacy has a good reputation for providing DME and HME products and services, they already have established a solid connection with the women in their local market. Now they just have to follow through and be that primary resource for women.

 

“More than anything, women are seeking a trusted resource,” Jensen Says. “They want a compassionate, educated person who will listen and help them understand options. Women are also looking for one place to serve all their needs; they don’t want to go to several different locations if they can get everything they need on one stop.”

 

There are a variety of customer constituencies that pharmacies can better service by catering to care and product needs, such as those for mastectomy, maternity and women’s compression needs.

 

MASTECTOMY

For starters, DME pharmacies are “uniquely positioned” to offer assistance to women before and after mastectomy surgery, according to Jensen.

 

“It’s possible these women are already customers using pharmacy services,” she says. “One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, which sadly, is not expected to change anytime soon.”

 

Bearing that in mind, a pharmacy looking to help these clients should aim be a one-stop-shop for post-mastectomy patients. Now that the patient has found a friendly, reliable, supportive resource, the last thing she wants to do is have to go somewhere else for one single item. Simply by providing the full spectrum of post-mastectomy products, you are establishing your pharmacy as a resource.

The more “central” products related to this group include post-mastectomy bras and prosthetics, but there is a wide variety of products and issues related to breast cancer patients that women’s healthcare providers should stock. Because those patients can be exposed to radiation treatment, there are various skincare product lines available to those patients. Wigs, hats, scarves and other head coverings are also important to patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“As women prepare for mastectomy surgery, there are items she should have in advance to help make her recovery more comfortable,” Jensen says. “Items such as the Contour Flip pillow are very useful since women who’ve had mastectomy surgery will have limited range of motion using her arms or using her arms to get in and out of bed or rising from a seated position for several days.

“There’s also a need for wound management,” she adds. “Women may need to resupply bandages and dressings for their surgical areas.”

 

MATERNITY

Obviously, new and expecting moms need a variety of products and services ranging from pregnancy support products to breast pumps and everything in between. So, this is a cornerstone women’s health category.

 

Furthermore, it represents a solid retail reimbursement category with a wide variety of products. And that list gets even larger if you factor in items such as infant nutrition. A pharmacy aiming to specialize in women’s healthcare should offer these items along with a wide array of other maternity- and baby-related products.

 

It’s worth noting that one of the more expensive maternity items, breast pumps, is a key maternity offering, but it is one that might trend increasingly toward retail purchase due to softening reimbursement rates. (Of course, new moms have been opting to purchase breast pumps when insurance hasn’t covered them for years.)

 

“Over the past few years, we’ve heard some of our members tell us the reimbursement has been declining for breast pumps, so they wonder whether they want to continue offering them,” Jensen says. “For those people, I urge them to reconsider and call Essentially Women so we can help you identify where you can make adjustments to your business model for breast pumps business. There are opportunities to be successful in this area.”

 

COMPRESSION

Compression products, such as hosiery, socks and arm sleeves, are used for many reasons, from relieving pain to helping to prevent severe varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Compression is also used in the treatment of lymphedema and in wound care.

 

Moreover, compression is a key women’s health offering with women representing the lion’s share of the market.

 

And compression needs are often related to the previous categories, mastectomy and maternity. In fact, Jensen notes that as many as 40 percent of women who have experienced breast cancer will develop secondary lymphedema following cancer treatment.

 

Safe Online Pharmacies

It is essential to stay informed about safe ways to buy medication. Buying prescription medicine online or through social media may seem to cost less, but it can put you, or your loved ones, at risk. Make sure a website is reputable to safely order prescription drugs and medicine online.

NABP has identified more than 25,000 websites that fail to comply with NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards, or applicable laws.

Nearly 95 percent of websites offering prescription-only drugs online operate illegally.

89 percent of illegal online pharmacies reviewed by NABP did not require a prescription for the sale of prescription-only medicine.

Less than 5 percent of consumers are aware of tools to help them find safe online pharmacies, according to Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies.

Purchase Medication From Legitimate Websites

Safe, verified online pharmacies will meet the following requirements:

  • Be licensed by regulators in the jurisdiction in which they are located, as well as regulators in the patient’s jurisdiction
  • Accept only valid prescriptions
  • Comply with applicable drug laws and professional practice laws
  • Provide readily accessible contact information for patient care inquiries
  • Comply with privacy laws and ensure patient confidentiality

Check the Safe Sites Search Tool Before You Buy

To protect yourself when ordering medications online, use NABP’s safe sites search tool. You can check whether a website is verified by NABP or not recommended by searching for the web address.

Another way to find a verified website is to look for .pharmacy at the end of the web address. When a website ends in .pharmacy, it has been verified by NABP. Unlike logos, the .pharmacy domain cannot be faked or forged.

For those interested in applying for a .pharmacy domain, visit our main website.

NABP’s Not Recommended List

NABP identifies a website as Not Recommended when, upon review, it appears to be out of compliance with NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards, or applicable law. Some Not Recommended websites do not sell drugs directly. Instead, they refer patients to websites that operate in violation of NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards, or applicable law.

Not Recommended websites commonly facilitate:

  • the sale of prescription-only medicine without requiring a valid prescription;
  • the sale of medicine that has not been approved or authorized for sale in the patient’s jurisdiction;
  • the practice of pharmacy without required licensure in all relevant jurisdictions.

If you believe your website is mistakenly included on the NRL, email idoi@nabp.pharmacy to request information about NABP’s appeals process.

If a website you visited is suspicious, but is not currently listed as Not Recommended, report it.

Report a Suspicious Site

Risks of Buying From an Unverified Website

  • Receiving bogus medication that fails to treat your medical condition
  • Receiving pills with dangerous fillers, such as drywall and rat poison
  • Buying drugs that have not been authorized for sale by your country’s medicine agency
  • Falling victim to fraud and identity theft
  • Exposing your computer to malware

Some illegal online pharmacies pretend to be based in Canada to give the illusion of more stringent regulations and safer drugs, but they may be based in countries without the regulatory safeguards found in the US and Canada. Read more in NABP’s Rogue Rx Activity Report.

Learn more about Charlie’s story from Song for Charlie, a family-run nonprofit charity dedicated to raising awareness about the emerging dangers of self-medication and casual drug use in the fentanyl era.

Other online drug sellers sell deadly pills laced with fentanyl. These dangerous medications are often sold through social media platforms and target adolescents and young adults. Fentanyl-laced pills have been found in every state and are linked to numerous deaths throughout the US. According to Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A dose of only 2 milligrams, the size of two grains of salt, is fatal for most pe

 

Crain’s Business Recognizes CCRx CEO Hossam Maksoud as a Notable in Health Care

This months Crain’s Business J0urnal recognized several leaders in the health care field for the dedication and hard work during the lsdt 18 months of the pandemic.  Our very own CEO Hossam Maksoud was recognized for his selfless commitment and dedication during the pandemic. 

In Crain’s own words.

Hossam Maksoud brings compassion and integrity to his role at Community Care Rx, a long-term care pharmacy based in Hempstead, New York. CCRX provides pharmacy services to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, group homes and other long-term care residences in New York and New Jersey. Its outreach includes 24/7 emergency services, medication packaging and technology, clinical support, quality assurance, specialty pharmacy and free delivery. During the pandemic, Maksoud worked around the clock to get required medicines to every facility. Not only did he take care of his own clients, but he took on facilities in distress, personally ensuring that items were delivered. In his spare time, Maksoud has established a foundation to further assist nonprofits and the individuals they support.

Our CEO Received the Healthcare Heroes Award

 We are proud to announce our CEO, Hossam Maksoud was recognized and awarded as a Healthcare Hero by Schneps Media. This award went to those people who have provided leadership and innovation in healthcare over the past year.

Click here to read more Press Release

Kind Words for Our Own Rosemary K.

I am writing to commend Rosemary K. regarding her handling of my mother’s Pharmacy account the past few years.  She is 97 years old and has advanced Alzheimer’s.  As her daughter and POA, I have been handling her affairs for the past almost 6 years since she was placed in her current living facility.

 Back in the beginning of 2018, my mother’s health insurance was erroneously cancelled by the third party used by my mother’s previous employer to process her premiums, which I was paying for her. This started a very long, tedious process on my part, to have the insurance reinstated so my mother’s pharmacy bills would be processed through her insurance provider.  It took nearly a year to go through this process, during which time your employee Rosemary Kammerer consistently and patiently offered professional and compassionate assistance to me throughout the whole ordeal. I was so grateful to her for this.  After this ended, things should have gone forward without issue. But in March/April of 2020, the exact same situation OCCURRED AGAIN, as it had in 2018!!!  This past year, your employee Rosemary Kammerer once again was there for me through this horrendous process!  This was finally rectified a few months ago…for good.  I made sure of that….

 I hope by writing this, that you will realize that you have an exceptional employee with Rosemary K.  She has proven that she cares about REAL PEOPLE and has gone above and beyond the duties of her job prescription with this very grateful person.  She took an awful situation I was faced with, and made it so much more bearable, simply by caring about the people in the situation.  It all worked out in the end, but I feel liberated because someone cared to go deeper than their possible job description, and actually help a family in need.  I hope Rosemary will be compensated for going above and beyond her regular duties and being compassionate for the people she comes in contact with.  

I know I feel blessed to have had Rosemary on my side being supportive, even when she was limited in what she could do.  It made all the difference in my life during a very difficult and stressful time. 

-Debbie V.

ACDS has Partnered with Community Care Rx

On behalf of the Community Care Rx team, I would like to welcome ACDS to our family of partners. I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the ACDS management for entrusting us with their business, and I look forward to the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.

We are truly blessed with many valued clients and partners, especially during these unprecedented times. We are committed to providing each one with the utmost care for their residents and excellent customer service.

About ACDS

ACDS was originally founded in 1966 by a group of parents on Long Island who were seeking services for their young children with Down syndrome. Since then, ACDS has grown and evolved into a lifetime services agency that serves families of children and adults with a wide range of disabilities that include; Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Speech and Language Delays, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).

ACDS’ programs are delivered in various settings, beginning with an educational center and flagship preschool in Plainview Long Island. Their recent expansion has included a special needs preschool in Westchester County and two adult Day Habilitation programs in Plainview and Merrick LI. They also continue to provide high-quality services in the family’s home, in community-based programs, and Individualized Residential Alternative group homes (IRAs) with a current capacity to serve more than one thousand people across all of their programs.

About CCRx

Our mission is to offer exceptional Long-Term Care pharmacy services at a low cost. Our staff is dedicated to patient care and understands the necessary actions to ensure staff efficiency and patient safety.

During the pandemic, CCRx took the initiative to offer COVID-19 services from day one of the lockdown, including – PPE supplies, emergency medication supplies, backup pharmacy services, remote TelePharmacy services, and consulting, COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 testing, and any special requests from our pharmacy partners.We continuously work day and night to be the best and continue working to make sure all your needs are met.

Sincerely,

May Newsletter

BREAKING: Nursing homes slated for 1.3% — or $444 million — Medicare pay hike for 2022
James M. Berklan

Nursing homes would receive a 1.3% net Medicare increase for fiscal year 2022 under a proposal announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services late Thursday afternoon.

The update would result in a $444 million aggregate pay boost in Medicare Part A payments for skilled nursing facilities.

CMS also is proposing a new quality measure that would require skilled nursing facilities to report staff COVID-19 vaccination rates, starting Oct. 1, 2021. Reporting would take place through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Healthcare Safety Network.

In addition, the proposed rule would expand the SNF Quality Reporting Program (QRP), including a reporting requirement and potential penalties for healthcare-acquired infections such as sepsis, urinary tract infection, and pneumonia. It also proposes changes to the SNF Value-Based Program (VBP) for FY 2022.

The Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System proposed rule would take effect Oct. 1, 2021, the start of the new fiscal year.

The 2022 proposed Medicare pay increase actually is $445 million, but that is affected by a $1.2 million decrease due to a proposed cut to account for the recent blood-clotting factors exclusion.

These impact figures also do not incorporate the SNF VBP reductions that CMS estimates to be $184.25 million for fiscal 2022, the agency added.

CMS noted that its analysis of the Patient Driven Payment System pay rates, which went into effect in October 2019, revealed an unintended average hike of about 5%, or $1.7 billion, in payments. But in deference to the ongoing public health emergency, it is only seeking comments at this time as to how the system can be brought back in line with its payment-neutral goal.

“CMS is soliciting broad public comments on a potential methodology for recalibrating the PDPM parity adjustment that would account for the potential effects of the COVID-19 PHE without compromising the accuracy of the adjustment,” the agency said. “CMS also seeks comment on whether any necessary adjustment should be delayed or phased in over time to provide payment stability.”

The new Medicare payment increase is the byproduct of a 2.3% market basket increase, minus a 0.8 percentage point forecast error adjustment and a 0.2 percentage point multifactor productivity (MFP) adjustment.

CMS also proposes to rebase and revise the SNF market basket index, including updating the base year from 2014 to 2018.

The proposed COVID-19 vaccination coverage measure would require skilled nursing facilities to report worker vaccination fates to gauge “whether SNFs are taking steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 among their HCP, reduce the risk of transmission within their facilities and help sustain the ability of SNFs to continue serving their communities throughout the COVID-19 PHE and beyond.”

Nothing dramatic had been expected by many industry insiders since a new CMS administrator has not been confirmed yet. President Joe Biden nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in February but required Senate confirmation hearings have not taken place. Liz Richter is the acting CMS administrator.

Even the small boost should come as a relief to providers, many of whom report operating at a loss due to COVID-19.

“This ongoing work makes government support and robust reimbursement rates more important than ever,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA said in a statement Thursday. “With the skilled nursing profession grappling with an economic crisis and hundreds of facilities on the brink of closure due to the pandemic, it is critical that Medicare remain a reliable funding source and reflect the increasing costs providers are facing.”

Parkinson also acknowledged that new worker-vaccination reporting proposal, albeit without an outright endorsement.

“We also recognize the importance of quality measures associated with COVID-19 including a proposed measure of the COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage among health care personnel, he said. “We thank Acting Administrator Richter and the Administration for their support through the pandemic.”

Last year, for fiscal 2021, nursing homes wound up with a net 2.2% Medicare raise, which was 0.1% less than the 2.3% rate originally proposed in April 2020. The increase amounted to an additional $750 million injected into the skilled nursing funding stream.

Also last year, CMS also proposed revised geographic delineations used to identify a provider’s status as an urban or rural facility. They were to be used “to calculate the wage index and apply a 5% cap to wage index decreases.” Slight changes to ICD-10 code mapping under the Patient-Driven Payment Model also were proposed.

A CMS fact sheet on the proposed 2022 rule can be found here. CMS will be taking comments on the proposals until June 7. The agency will announce any adjustments to the rule after collecting and making decisions about comments gathered.



Telehealth: Driving more effective, qualitative and accessible care for U.S. seniors
Ed Mercadante, BSPharm, R.Ph., D.Sc.(Hon)

When the COVID-19 pandemic began within the United States in early 2020, residents of long-term care facilities — including assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes and other facilities — were severely affected by widespread infections and deaths. Operators acted quickly to restrict visitor access and limit resident activities. As a result of social distancing measures and other safety precautions enacted to reduce the spread of the virus, many older adults faced detrimental interruptions to care that have severely decreased quality of life.

 

Telehealth quickly was leveraged to provide safe, virtual care to meet the ever-increasing needs of the senior population, who have faced additional loneliness, depression and isolation during these troubled times. Now more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, telehealth has proven its value and is a necessary solution that is here to stay. Its ability to facilitate essential care for the senior community — particularly mental health care — is a testament to its potential longevity beyond the pandemic.

 

The mental health need for elderly through virtual care

A critical need for telehealth exists — more specifically, behavioral telehealth — within the nation’s senior community. The U.S. senior population is growing at a rapid rate and is expected to double over the next three decades from 48 million to 88 million. This significant increase necessitates scalable, more accessible healthcare solutions designed to provide care efficiently and effectively for an aging and mobile population.

 

Unfortunately, many older adults choose not to seek mental healthcare due to social stigma, which can leave serious conditions such as depression and cognitive decline untreated. The CDC estimates that more than 20% of the 55 and older community face some form of mental health concern, most commonly depression, anxiety and isolation. Some studies have indicated that these factors lead to an accelerated cognitive decline. The CDC also says that more than 40% of assisted living communities do not offer mental health services.

 

Mental health challenges are even more predominant for older adults within long-term care facilities, and circumstances undoubtedly only have worsened over the past year. Research shows that more than half of nursing home residents without cognitive impairment have reported feeling loneliness, isolation and depression. Additionally, behavioral conditions amongst the elderly often contribute to a significant decline of other comorbid ailments such as diabetes and cardiac issues.

 

A serious need exists for quality healthcare for the aging population, and with the physical and social limitations that older adults face when seeking in-person care, which in some cases only have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is a viable solution.

 

Telehealth drives improvement in care

Not only does telehealth safely provide more accessible patient/resident care desperately needed for the senior population, but it also improves care outcomes. According to our recent data study, telehealth can result in considerable reductions in the use of dangerous psychotropic drugs. Telehealth empowers mental health professionals and other practitioners to reach patients/residents who otherwise may not receive the specialized, one-on-one care they need.

 

There is a significant shortage of mental health providers, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and psychiatric providers such as nurse practitioners. In senior living, this shortage of trained professionals can lead to dire consequences for the elderly, a vulnerable population.

 

Virtual care is the great equalizer, disrupting the existing paradigm barriers of geography, travel, weather conditions and other impediments that contribute to accessibility difficulties and inefficiencies of care. Not only is virtual care lifting the burden off of patients/residents, but according to our estimates, we are able to see more than 25% more people in need of care.

 

Before the availability of behavioral telehealth services, mental health providers often were unable to accommodate patients requiring emergency or more acute needs. With tele-technologies, including mobile health app-based access, people can be cared for in place without interruption and providers can transition care to whatever location the individual requires, including a traditional home or congregate setting. Hopefully, the pandemic will accelerate federal and state legislation enabling permanent access to telehealth and digital technologies by removing regulatory hurdles that existed before COVID-19.

 

By improving access to quality care and the efficiency with which that care is delivered, telehealth has the potential to positively affect quality of life — and it hopefully will serve as a catalyst that drives more mental healthcare for the country’s older adult population moving forward. I strongly believe that we are at the beginning of a “change healthcare movement” through tele-technologies and that it will lead to improved care for millions of Americans.

 

Ed Mercadante, BSPharm, R.Ph., D.Sc.(Hon) is CEO of MediTelecare, a leading provider of telehealth behavioral services to SNFs and assisted living facilities.

 


Scaling Up Telepharmacy for the Future
April 5, 2021
Fred Gebhart

Telepharmacy turns 20 this year. Two decades after it emerged as a way of preserving and expanding pharmacy access across rural North Dakota, telepharmacy innovators are moving into sterile compounding, secure medication storage, primary care consults, and more.

 

 Telepharmacy has gone from a pilot project to accepted practice in 25 states, according to Jessica Adams, PharmD, director of regulatory affairs for Telepharm, an early telepharmacy provider acquired by Cardinal Health in 2016. Many states who do not have telepharmacy rules in place today, are in some stage of approving telepharmacy as pharmacists and patients continue to push the need for access to pharmacy care. As pharmacists, providers, patients, payers, and regulators recognize the benefits that telehealth can bring to pharmacy, technology-based services will continue to expand.

 

At its simplest, telepharmacy allows a pharmacist to supervise a remote dispensing site via HIPAA-compliant, 2-way audio-visual technology. The pharmacist remotely supervises the telepharmacy technicians, verifies prescriptions, and counsels patients from their host pharmacy location. Newer iterations are combining remote oversight with other familiar technologies to expand the reach of pharmacy care.

 

Remote Sterile Compounding

 

 One of the newest expansions is using remote verification for sterile IV compounding at the University of North Carolina (UNC). Pharmacists saw the potential to balance workload across multiple pharmacies that were using BD Pyxis IV Prep to prepare sterile IV solutions, explained Lindsey B. Amerine, PharmD, MS, BCPS, director of pharmacy and associate professor of clinical education at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She proposed a double arm, prospective study of remote versus onsite verification at 4 UNC pharmacies.

 

 The Pyxis system uses gravimetric-based technology to weigh and verify compounded products, Amerine explained. The system images the compounding process, which is typically managed by a technician and reviewed by a local pharmacist. Because the onsite pharmacist was using images generated by the system, there was no obvious difference between reviewing images in the next room or 25 miles away.

 

 Results of the 90-day trial demonstrated no difference in accuracy or safety for remote versus local oversight, and resulted in an annualized cost savings of nearly $24,800, according to Amerine. “When we did the study, the state had no rules around this kind of telepharmacy,” Amerine said, “so we designed the trial with remote plus onsite review of all compounded sterile products.” When the COVID-19 pandemic started, “we received a waiver from the [State] Board of Pharmacy to be able to do this remote sterile product check as long as the health emergency lasts,” she said.

 

“Our next initiative is to be able to use telepharmacy routinely in the long term to do more workload sharing across sites. There is also the advantage of having a pharmacist able to check product from anywhere in the hospital. Not being tied to the pharmacy frees you up to spend more time with patients.”

 

Secure Medication Storage

 

 Roger Rose, RPh, director of pharmacy services for Wickenburg Community Hospital, opened the first telepharmacy in Arizona in 2019. Wickenburg has long had a satellite clinic in the town of Congress, which is about 16 miles away. With a population of 3500, Congress is too small to support an onsite pharmacist, Rose said. The drive to Wickenburg to fill prescriptions is not always practical for patients.

 

 “We were doing deliveries to the Congress clinic twice a day, but that didn’t always work, either,” Rose said. “Patients still had to go home after their clinic visit, then come back later, or maybe the next day. Too many prescriptions never got picked up.”

 

 When Arizona approved telepharmacy in 2018, Rose had a solution and 2 more problems. One was security. Most telepharmacy operations he visited had a single technician handling the entire operation.

 

 “You’ve got your front end, you’ve got prescriptions at the back, and just 1 person,” Rose said. “For any pharmacist who has been around for a while, that’s a stress.”

 

 The second problem was space. State telepharmacy regulations required at least 300 square feet. The only available space at the Congress clinic was 125 square feet.

 

 His solution was RxSafe, a secure medication storage unit that can hold about 1300 medication vials. The unit weighs every container coming out and going back into storage to verify the medication removed for each prescription.

 

 “Combining telepharmacy and RxSafe answered our questions,” Rose said. “We can stock just about everything our providers write in the limited space, and I know the location is safe for our tech. The technologies work well together.”

 

A Pharmacist in Every Room

 

Adam Chesler, PharmD, MBA, senior vice president for pharmacy integration at VillageMD, a network of primary care clinics, envisions a day when every patient in nearly 2000 primary care clinics can have a pharmacist consult. Some consults will likely come through an in-person Walgreens pharmacist. Walgreens is investing $1 billion to support up to 700 new Village Medical primary care clinics at its locations by 2025. Other consults will likely come via telepharmacy.

 

“Having a pharmacist directly involved in care improves patient outcomes,” said Chesler. “By integrating a pharmacist into primary care, we have shown significant, sustained increases in medication adherence to treat cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension. We can utilize telepharmacy and telehealth technology by taking an iPad or tablet into any exam room and having a conversation between the pharmacist, physician, and patient anywhere, anytime.”

 

The telepharmacy technology already exists and VillageMD already has a focus on pharmacy integration. Patients with multiple chronic disease states or those who use multiple pharmacies have an elevated risk of therapy failure. These patients already receive in-person or telephonic pharmacy consults, as do discharged and homebound patients. Telepharmacy can further expand this reach. Pharmacists in these settings have full access to patient electronic medical records, a common communication platform with clinicians, and collaborative practice agreements with delegated prescribing authority.

 

“We are taking full financial risk for many Medicare patients,” Chesler explained. “The physicians here understand that the best way, the only way, to successfully improve outcomes and reduce costs is by having pharmacists directly integrated into the care team. Having a pharmacist on the care team is integral to our success and telepharmacy can help make that integration happen.”

 

Smoothing Regulatory Bumps

 

As telepharmacy evolves, regulators are playing catch-up. On a federal level, the COVID-19 pandemic called for loosened telehealth restrictions overall during the public health emergency. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded the number of covered services that can be provided via telehealth. Many of these changes are noted as temporary during the COVID-19 emergency period. However, as telehealth benefits prove valuable, it is the hope that these changes will carry over post pandemic, enabling telepharmacy expansion.

 

Many states already had telepharmacy laws in place prior to the pandemic. California’s Legislature authorized telepharmacy in 2018. It took 2 years to work out the regulatory details and open the state’s first telepharmacy. Arizona’s first telepharmacy was 6 years in the making.

 

 “When we first asked, the state pharmacy board told us they had no regulations and nothing in the practice act that would let them authorize telepharmacy for the hospital’s remote clinic,” said Rose. “Five years later, they had changes to the practice act, called us back for a hearing in July, and we were licensed the next April.”

 

 Outreach to the state board, showing up at board meetings, and providing public comments make the difference, said Adams. “ Each state is unique and has its own challenges, but access is an issue everywhere. Telepharmacy has been proven to work for 20 years, and is now permitted in 25 states. If pharmacists attend board of pharmacy meetings and explain how telepharmacy can reduce gaps in pharmacy care that their patients are experiencing, it can make a positive difference in getting telepharmacy moving,” she explained.

 

 Changing pharmacy regulation and legislation is a team sport, Adams continued. Arizona was slow to adopt telepharmacy in part because chain pharmacists feared remote oversight could lead to job losses. The Arizona Pharmacy Association demanded language in the practice act to safeguard pharmacist employment.

 

 Rural health associations can be solid partners, particularly for pharmacists seeking to bring telepharmacy to underserved rural areas. Federally qualified health centers, health systems, and physician practices that recognize the advantages of bringing pharmacy to the care team can help build support.

 

 “The basic message is telepharmacy safely provides greater access to pharmacist care,” Adams said. “Why are we not using a proven technology to help ensure that our patients are getting the best pharmacy care possible? The more stakeholders you bring to support your message, the more likely you are to get a positive response.”


155 assisted living communities get bad rap after being put on governor’s ‘not vaccinating’ list
Amy Novotney

More than 150 assisted living communities are being called out — unfairly, they say — by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the state’s Department of Aging, according to local media reports.

 

The department on Thursday released a list of facilities that they said either have not opted into the state’s vaccine program or have not confirmed how they are administering vaccines. But some operators said that the lists is inaccurate.

 

The Office of the Aging compiled the list of 155 assisted living communities and 52 nursing homes that the agency said have not signed up for what’s called the “Covid Maintenance Program,” designed to make sure new senior living and nursing home residents and new staff members have access to a vaccine. The agency reportedly sent the survey to operators in the state, and if a facility did not respond, then its name automatically was put on the list. Yet several facilities are claiming their inclusion is a mistake.

 

“Since we’ve completed the survey four times, no reason we should be on any list but a good list,” John Stone, administrator of Merit House in Toledo, OH, which was included on the list, told 24 News. Stone said that residents of his facility, which offers assisted living and skilled care, are fully vaccinated after he held three CVS Health vaccination clinics: one each in December, January and February.

 

“100% of our residents have been vaccinated, and probably upwards of 60% of staff. We took a pretty aggressive stance to get everyone vaccinated and get everyone on board,” he told the news agency.

 

Similarly, the Cottage at Wexner Heritage Village in Columbus, OH, told WBNS News that it vaccinated 90% of its residents on Jan. 7.

 

“It was of course offered to everyone,” said Chris Christian, the facility’s president and CEO. “For our organization to be on the list, we knew clearly there was an error and something they got mixed up somewhere or some wires were crossed.”

 

Many operators said they hadn’t received the survey, prompting LeadingAge Ohio President and CEO Kathryn Brod to condemn the governor for publishing the list.

 

“Nearly every LeadingAge Ohio member appearing on the list had a plan in place for offering the vaccine to new residents and staff,” Brod told McKnight’s Senior Living in a statement. “Many of the organizations on the list are leaders among their peers, with vaccination rates among residents and staff far above the state averages.”

 

Brod noted that many members confirmed that their issues stemmed from the process of reporting vaccine plans to the state, particularly life plan communities (also known as continuing care retirement communities) that offer both assisted living and skilled nursing at the same site.

 

“Gov. DeWine’s statement of frustration for providers working tirelessly to protect high-risk Ohioans was profoundly disheartening, particularly given the ease with which the reporting issue was rectified,” she said.


The COVID race: Vaccines 90% effective in frontline workers, but variant cases rising
Alicia Lasek

A vial of SARS-CoV2 COVID-19 vaccine in a medical research laboratory

A study of healthcare and other essential workers provides strong evidence that messenger, or mRNA, vaccines, are 90% effective against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But case rates are increasing again, pitting the pace of vaccinations against the effects of spreading virus variants, observers say.

 

The agency’s latest investigation followed almost 4,000 participants in six states after they received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines. Risk of infection dropped by 90% two or more weeks after the second dose, the researchers found.

 

The findings demonstrate that U.S. vaccination efforts are having a substantial preventive effect among working-age adults, the agency said. They also bolster the CDC’s recommendation for getting the full two-dose immunization with mRNA vaccines, it added. A third federally approved vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, uses a different technology and was not included in the study. It has been shown to be 67% effective overall in preventing moderate to severe/critical COVID-19, and 100% protective against ICU admission and death.

 

More vaccinations needed to combat variants

 

In the meantime, U.S. COVID-19 case rates have begun to increase again for the first time since January, the agency said. In a Monday press briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., pleaded with Americans not to let down their guard, according to the Associated Press.

 

Cases were up 10% last week from the previous week, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising as well, the news outlet reported.

 

Experts say the increase in cases may be related to new genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19. What the CDC calls “variants of concern” have mutated to spread more easily and to possibly cause more severe disease, according to a report by NPR. Now they are making inroads nationwide and becoming the dominant strains of the virus in many places.

 

One expert has called the new circumstances a race between vaccinations and variants, tweeting that the variants have recently “pulled ahead” of the pace of U.S. vaccination. “Holding tight until more folks vaccinated [is the] key to winning this race,” tweeted Ashish Jha, M.D., MPH, a public health policy researcher from Brown University’s School of Public Health.

 

“We are not powerless; we can change this trajectory of the pandemic,” the CDC’s Walensky said, according to NPR. She and the White House’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, M.D., have asked Americans to continue maintaining social distancing measures and mask wearing.

Our Newest VP Theresa Sowinski was also a Hometown Hero During Super Storm Nemo

Former Wal-mart exec received national award after caring for stranded motorists for
 three days in the Middle Island store after a blizzard closed roads

 

Theresa Sowinski joined Community Care Rx in Hempstead as Vice President of Pharmacy Operations.

Theresa, who has worked in the pharmacy industry for 26 years, spent the last 15 years with Wal-Mart, where she was most recently Health and Wellness Director, with oversight for the pharmacy and vision departments in 13 stores.

While serving as Pharmacy Manager for Wal-Mart’s Middle Island store in 2013, Theresa took care of more than 50 motorists and employees who were stranded when roads were shut down due to Winter Storm Nemo. For three days, she provided food, dry clothes and comfortable chairs and blankets to the stranded individuals, resulting in positive press for the store, including coverage on CNN. Following the event, Theresa was flown to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where she was presented with the company’s “Excellence in Patient Care” award.

In her new role with Community Care Rx, Theresa is responsible for ensuring the delivery of exceptional service to existing customers in addition to developing relationships with new accounts. She works closely with CEO Hossam Maksoud in overseeing pharmacy operations, mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs, and the billing department at Community Care Rx, which is a long-term-care pharmacy serving assisted living facilities, nursing homes, OPWDD group homes and other facilities in New York and New Jersey.

Theresa received her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Temple University in Philadelphia in 1999. Previously, she obtained an Associate’s Degree in science from Farmingdale State College.

A licensed pharmacist, she is also a certified optical technician, certified immunizer and certified in CPR/AED. With eye tests unavailable at the Department of Motor Vehicles due to the pandemic, Theresa has volunteered to provide vision tests for people who have needed them to renew their licenses.

Theresa joined Wal-Mart as a Staff Pharmacist in 2005 and was promoted to Pharmacy Manager in 2006 and to Health and Wellness Director in 2017. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, she held Pharmacy Manager positions at King Kullen and Pathmark Supermarkets.