Managing the Increase in Pharmacy Staff from COVID-19 Immunizations in a Post-Pandemic Landscape

Susan Lang, MA, MBA, CEO of XIL Health and former senior executive at Express Scripts, discusses some of the issues pharmacies are experiencing around staffing to support COVID-19 immunizations and how these issues may change post-pandemic.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Susan Lang, MA, MBA, CEO of XIL Health and former senior executive at Express Scripts, on some of the issues pharmacies are experiencing around staffing to support COVID-19 immunizations and how these issues may change post-pandemic.

Alana Hippensteele: What are some of the issues pharmacies are experiencing around staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic and during ongoing vaccinations?

Susan Lang: So, staffing has been really difficult. We've got pharmacies that are recruiting other people's pharmacists to make sure that they can get everything done. So, they have sign-on bonuses, they have, again, increasing their costs, whether or not those folks will stay, whether or not you have an ongoing need.

So, you have this enormous shift right now in human capital, but once people are vaccinated, does that go back to normal? What happens with those folks or do you have additional strategies where you would want to keep that level of staffing?

So, I think it's been really challenging recruiting, it's been really challenging retaining people. People are on the front line. I know some pharmacies have paid hazard pay because you don't want your staff to get sick, and they're sort of frontline people, so these are the people that are the most at-risk. Any caregiver who's face to face with you and is sitting very close to you is the most at risk.

So, I think it is very challenging, and I honestly think I've seen some really creative and really good thoughts around human resources, around keeping folks safe, around making sure people want to continue to work.

But I will say, overall, that problem was solved, which is why we've been able to administer so many vaccinations, and it's solved because you have caregivers that are deeply committed to their communities.

This is what people sign up to do, this is really their sort of mission. So, I think there were initial bumps in the road, and I think they figured that out over the first couple of weeks and couple of months.