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The staff of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s pharmacy has been stretched especially thin in recent weeks by the surge in COVID-19 cases in Southern California fueled by the omicron variant.
On National Pharmacist Day, observed on Jan. 12, the center’s director of pharmacy services Nicole Thibeau emphasized that the pharmacy’s approximately 60 employees remain focused on the health and well-being of the community.
“They are driven by the mission of the center and by helping the really vulnerable patients, that’s what’s getting them through right now,” Thibeau said. “But they are definitely tired.”
Located on the first floor of the center’s McDonald-Wright Building in Hollywood, the pharmacy filled more than 200,000 prescriptions last year for approximately 5,500 individual clients. Staff also administered hundreds of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to center employees and clients. The pharmacy’s services also include private consultations with staff members who answer questions about medications, especially HIV-drug regimens and side effects.
“Here at the center, all of our pharmacists are certified experts in HIV, as well as very highly culturally competent in terms of caring for the LGBT community, so our clients are going to have a different experience when they come to our pharmacy,” Thibeau added. “We understand that a patient’s gender identity may not match their external appearance and know how to do all the billing around hormones and HIV treatments. People aren’t going to feel excluded or judged by coming here in a way that you might – intentionally or unintentionally – when you seek medical care elsewhere.”
The pharmacy staff works closely with physicians, nurses, nutritionists, case managers and mental health providers to help achieve health care goals.
“Your pharmacist tends to be the health professional that you have the most access to; you’re going to see them more frequently and you can just call them,” Thibeau said. “Your pharmacist is the medication expert more than any other type of medical professional. Lean into that, use them for that.”
The staff has been impacted in recent weeks by the surge in COVID-19 cases, which has led to shortened weekday hours. Hours are currently 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The pharmacy is open to the general public and accepts Medi-Cal, AIDS Drug Assistance Program benefits and most private insurance plans. It is located at 1625 N. Schrader Blvd. For information, call (323)993-7513, or visit lalgbtcenter.org/health-services/pharmacy.
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