Lopez pharmacy saves the day | Guest column

By Linda Zerbst

Special to the Weekly

I noticed a rash appearing on my neck on a Friday – it was itchy and I thought it was bug bites. I was on the Anacortes/Lopez ferry, and I was scratching my neck all the way home. I also had a sore neck. By evening, I started to wonder if it could be shingles, even though I had received the immunization several years ago. By Saturday morning blisters had started to form only on one side of my face, and I became more concerned and convinced about what it was. I asked my neighbor, a nurse, to look at it and she confirmed my suspicions. Now what to do? It’s Saturday! The clinic is closed and so is the pharmacy. I knew I had a 72-hour window to start the antivirus medication that is effective in suppressing the spread. I considered trying to get to the hospital either at Friday Harbor or Anacortes when my neighbor suggested I call the pharmacy. She reminded me that the legislature passed a bill (SB5557) and the governor signed it into law in May of this year authorizing pharmacists to diagnose and treat certain illnesses! I immediately called the pharmacy and got their home phone from the voicemail. Marge answered and told me to meet her at the pharmacy in an hour. She was there when I arrived and quickly diagnosed my condition as the shingles, checked blood pressure and temp, prescribed antivirus medication (to stop additional breakouts) and cream for the rashes, filled the prescriptions and counseled me on what to expect.

The visit was thorough, and I got all my questions answered. I am so grateful to Marge and Rick McCoy at the Lopez Island Pharmacy and to the new Washington state law allowing and encouraging these services.

Following is a list of a few of the conditions that the state of Washington has authorized Marge and Rick to diagnose and treat on the spot. The entire list of 22 ailments can be found on the pharmacy website, www.lopezislandpharmacy.com, “Minor Emergencies We Can Help With.”

• Antiviral tablets for relieving symptoms of cold sores or shingles

• Albuterol inhaler or Albuterol Sulfate for nebulization for use as rescue for bronchiospasm

• Antihistamine or anti-inflammatory eye drops for relieving allergic eye symptoms

• Bee sting treatment for reducing swelling from bee stings

• Scopolamine patch for prevention of motion sickness

• Silver Sulfadiazine cream for treatment of minor burns

We are fortunate to have our pharmacy available to treat and prescribe some common treatments that you might need. Often the Lopez Island Clinic is either full to capacity or it’s the weekend and you find yourself with one of the listed “Minor Emergency” conditions. Call the pharmacy if you find that one of these conditions needs treatment as soon as possible. They can make things better.