BOLIVAR, Mo. – Is it taking you longer than usual to get a prescription refill? Pharmacists around the Ozarks say the need in the industry right now is a reason why.

OzarksFirst spoke with Citizens Memorial Hospital (CMH) and CoxHealth in Springfield.

CMH’s system pharmacy director Mariah Hollabaugh says her healthcare provider saw 15 percent more prescriptions in December 2021 than December 2020. A big reason for this is more flu and COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

“CMH has been working very diligently to try to keep us staffed and we’re floating staff where we can,” Hollabaugh said. “We even have administrators with their technician licenses so that they can jump in and help when we’re really in dire need of support in the pharmacies. We’re seeing unprecedented volumes both in our hospital and our retail space, and it is the busiest time I’ve ever seen in pharmacy.”

Hollabaugh says during this surge, the more grace patients can give their pharmacists, the better.

“Now more than ever it’s very important that patients be engaged in their care,” Hollabaugh said. “Work proactively to help us work ahead on what their needs are. Getting to those follow-up appointments so you have refills available and we aren’t tracking those down. Working with pharmacies to setup any sort of sync program they may offer or automated refills.”

Many CMH employees have been working overtime lately to take care of patients. Hollabaugh encourages anyone looking to get back into the workforce to consider the healthcare field.

“Definitely it’s a challenge in pharmacy and across healthcare right now to find workers and to fill our positions,” Hollabaugh said.

CoxHealth sent OzarksFirst the following statement: 

“Our retail pharmacies are experiencing a busier winter than prior years and we are anticipating increased demand for outpatient pharmacy services as we prepare to manage the COVID-19 surge. Our pharmacy team encourages patients to plan ahead during this busy time, especially for refill medication needs. It is a good idea to request a medication refill several days in advance of running out. Obtaining a 90-day supply of medications for chronic conditions can be a great way to avoid a trip to the pharmacy during these busy periods. We also encourage patients to use our contactless pickup at our curbside, or the drive-thru at our Wheeler pharmacy.”