Safeway pharmacists bridge another gap in care

All over the United States and Canada, retail pharmacy innovators keep stepping up to fill in more of the gaps that separate people from quality, proactive resources for health, wellness and preventive care.

One of the latest examples is Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway. In a new and groundbreaking alliance with the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, the 1,641-store supermarket and pharmacy megachain has kicked off a long-term campaign to help its customers quit smoking. As reported by Drug Store News’ Alaric DeArment, Safeway pharmacists will deliver the program, which was developed by UCSF pharmacy school faculty, after being schooled in smoking-cessation counseling techniques.

The pharmacy school’s interim dean, B. Joseph Guglielmo, said the project will give Safeway’s millions of customers “the full patient-care skill set of pharmacists, with a goal of helping customers prevent and manage their chronic medical conditions.”

Pharmacists participating in the venture will include questions about smoking as part of their standard intake screening process for new patients. If those patients do admit to the nicotine habit, they’ll get quit-smoking advice from the pharmacist and a referral to the California Smokers' Helpline.

The upshot, of course, could be a change in direction to a healthier lifestyle for some Safeway customers, fewer smoking-related diseases and lower long-term health costs. As a side benefit, the program will help cement the professional standing of pharmacists as caregivers and the bonds between patient and practitioner.

Safeway pharmacy leaders want to pilot the program in 20 California stores then begin rolling it out to hundreds of the chain’s pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada.

If you’re a practicing retail pharmacist, please share your own experiences with smoking cessation efforts and other wellness and preventive-health programs you’re participating in. As always, your feedback is appreciated.

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