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In the hustle and bustle of one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, Tarrytown Pharmacy is a source of constancy.
Since 1941, Tarrytown has been serving the Austin, TX area with personalized care, earning acclaim among locals. Rannon Ching, Tarrytown’s Pharmacist-in-Charge, says, “We’re known for our old-fashioned customer service, but we combine it with new innovations and new clinical services.” These services include everything from med sync to point-of-care testing to vaccinations, all administered by friendly pharmacists from the Austin community.
In its nearly 80-year history, Tarrytown Pharmacy has gone through a number of changes. In fact, it opened its doors for the first time on December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. No change was greater, though, than COVID-19 — which came with unprecedented challenges for all pharmacies, Tarrytown included.
Over the last year and a half, Rannon and his team have adapted to change and modified their services to keep their community safe. At the beginning of the pandemic, this meant offering tests; and when Tarrytown got the green light last December, it meant offering vaccines.
Since he administered his first dose, Rannon has focused his attention on vaccinating as many patients as possible, especially those most at-risk. In addition to doing onsite vaccinations, he and his team have taken part in multiple mobile clinics. A few months ago, they even had the opportunity to travel across Texas and vaccinate the state’s intellectually and developmentally disabled (IDD) population.
He explains, “All of the national partners that were supposed to be immunizing IDD patients at long-term care facilities were skipping out on appointments or not returning patients’ calls. We were approached to fill in the gaps because our long-term care pharmacy deals with IDD patients specifically. We petitioned the governor and the state health department, and we were able to get more doses. Then we hit the road.”
For this pharmacy, personalized care doesn’t just stay within city limits. In true Texan fashion, it extends across the entire state.
To learn more about Tarrytown’s IDD vaccination efforts, tune in to Episode 35 of the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast:
Tarrytown didn’t stop there, though. When the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot received emergency use authorization at the end of September, Rannon and his team were ready — not only to administer shots but to advocate for them.
Rannon explains, “I read a study that says that with just three doses of the vaccine, you can almost eliminate severe disease and death, even after immunity might wane. It’s our job to protect the people that are willing to be protected.” With this philosophy, Tarrytown started preparing for boosters.
That meant tackling two obstacles: staffing and reporting.
To address the staff issue, Rannon says, “We went ahead and hired more people. I knew that was an investment we needed to make, because I didn’t want to put an additional burden on my staff. I hired a full-time pharmacist and several part-time pharmacists to help us out. Thanks to them, we’ve been able to vaccinate a lot more folks, including frontline healthcare workers and residents at assisted living facilities. That’s been awesome.”
With one problem solved, that left one more: reporting. As Rannon explains, “When we thought about our workflow, and how we were going to administer vaccines sustainably, it always came down to data entry. The limiting factor was always how we were going to record all of the shots.” With new boosters, that challenge would only intensify.
Luckily, Rannon had the right solution in mind. He says, “The great news is that we have PioneerRx, and we’ve been using the Bulk Upload feature. We combined the Bulk Upload with a macro that we created on Excel, and it works like magic. It takes the information that we collect on our online sign-up sheet and automatically populates it in Excel with the lot number, expiration date, administration date, and more. Then we can upload that information directly into PioneerRx.”
Rannon continues, “In a matter of two minutes, I can download the information from our sign-up, run it through Excel, and upload it into PioneerRx. What would take multiple techs a whole day to upload can now be done in a matter of hours. Without PioneerRx’s Bulk Upload capability, we would be totally stunned.”
Tarrytown Pharmacy is passionate about protecting the people in their own backyard, and they encourage other pharmacies to continue to do the same. For all pharmacies beginning to administer the third dose, Rannon has a simple but powerful piece of advice: be prepared.
He says, “The more that you can do in advance, the easier it is.”
Preparation doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Tarrytown stays prepared by doing the majority of its reporting in advance, but pharmacies can take a number of different steps to get ahead of the curve.
Rannon explains the process: “We require our patients to sign up for vaccines 36 hours in advance. That helps us collect all of their information and start data entry ahead of time. When the patient walks in for their appointment, everything is already done. All they have to do is grab a label, go to our immunization room, get immunized, and check out at the register to sign for it. Taking this extra step makes us really efficient.”
To learn more about how Rannon and his team stay prepared, listen to Episode 16 of the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast:
As science and technology continue to advance, independent pharmacists have to be ready to protect their patients. All three COVID-19 vaccines now have third dose emergency use authorization, and Rannon urges pharmacists to prepare accordingly.
He says, “It is our mission and our responsibility. We have to make the vaccine as accessible as possible and make our patients feel comfortable in the process. That’s what we’ve done this whole time, and that’s what we will continue to do. At the end of the day, we’re here to serve our community, just like we always have.”