31 Michigan pharmacies now offering rapid-diagnostic strep/flu testingPart of study involving Ferris State University, University of Nebraska Medical Center
As flu cases continue to ravage Michigan, new foot soldiers have emerged in the fight against the virus - community pharmacists.
At 31 select community pharmacies across Michigan, specially-trained pharmacists are administering rapid-diagnostic (results in 10 minutes or less) flu or Group A Streptococcus tests to adults eligible for a patient-care study. Pharmacists can then fill the matching prescriptions, if needed, under strict protocol set by prescribing physicians.
That kind of quick action can stop influenza in its tracks, and perhaps more importantly, keep it from spreading to others, noted Michael Klepser, Pharm.D., a pharmacist and infectious diseases specialist at Ferris State University.
Ordinarily, many people might self-treat for a day or two, before deciding they are sick enough to see a doctor. By then, it may be too late to treat influenza, the only option to let it run its course. And, it may have already spread.
But under this rapid-testing, flu-fighting program, an eligible adult can walk right in to a participating pharmacy, get tested, and know the results right then and there. If a patient's condition matches the supervising physician's diagnosis, the pharmacist can then start treatment immediately.
As part of the study, the testing is free to those who qualify.
Community pharmacists are ideally suited to test and treat these illnesses quickly, professionally and cost-effectively, said Dr. Klepser's brother, Donald Klepser, Ph.D., a UNMC professor and principal investigator on a National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation grant to administer the program and study the results.
"Many people may not realize how many people come to the pharmacy first anyway, when they have these symptoms," Dr. Donald Klepser said.
If a convenient visit to the pharmacist means people won't wait as long to get tested, and are more likely to receive timely treatment, the flu is less likely to be as devastating, or as widespread.
The participating pharmacists have undergone a training certification program, developed by the UNMC-Ferris State team, to work from a protocol that includes administering these noninvasive Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA)-waived rapid tests (meaning the tests have been cleared for home use).
Obviously pharmacists are not doctors. But they are not trying to be.
"This is not to replace physician services," Dr. Donald Klepser said.
Rather, the pharmacists are providing more foot soldiers in the fight against flu.
Anyone who has ever waited to see if he or she was really sick, only to find themselves riding out a weekend with influenza or a bad case of strep, would rather be tested and start treatment sooner than later.
"From a system standpoint, if we can get people going to the pharmacy as opposed to the emergency room or the urgent care at those times, it will be a real savings," Dr. Donald Klepser said.
And with the prescriptions and protocol, doctors and pharmacists are working together to benefit patients. And to keep the rest of us from catching what those patients have.
To see if your neighborhood pharmacy is among those offering the program, or to speak with a participating pharmacist, please check the list below.
Albion: Young's Pharmacy, 120 S. Clark St.
Ann Arbor: HomeTown, 2355 E. Stadium Blvd. No. 1
Bellevue: HomeTown Pharmacy Bellevue, 117 N. Main St.
Hart: Oceana Pharmacy, 819 S. State St.
Lawton: Lawton Pharmacy, 350 N. Main Street
Manchester: Manchester Pharmacy, 128 E. Main St
Monroe: HomeTown Pharmacy, 1144 N. Monroe St
Newaygo: Haveman Pharmacy, 226 W. River Valley Dr
North Muskegon: Keefe's North Muskegon Pharmacy, 1900 Ruddiman
Saginaw: Brady Drugs, 7835 Gratiot Road
Shelby: Shelby Pharmacy, 178 N. Michigan Ave
Sparta: Momber Pharmacy, 133 E Division Street
Grand Rapids: Keystone Pharmacy, 4021 Cascade RD SE
Detroit: Meijer 268, 1301 W. Eight Mile Rd.
Grand Haven: Meijer 180, 15000 US 31
Grand Rapids: Meijer 158, 1997 E. Beltline
Grand Rapids: Meijer 20, 2425 Alpine, NW
Grand Rapids: Meijer 311, 1540 28th St
Grand Rapids: Meijer 50, 5531 28th St
Grandville: Meijer 221, 3434 Century Center Dr. SW
Holland: Meijer 47, 746 16th Street
Jenison: Meijer 26, 550 Baldwin St
Kalamazoo: Meijer 22, 5121 S. Westnedge
Lansing: Meijer 23, 5125 West Saginaw
Okemos: Meijer 25, 2055 West Grand River
Kalamazoo: OptiMed Pharmacy, 154 S Kalamazoo Mall
Caledonia: D & W Pharmacy, 9375 Cherry Valley Ave SE
Sparta: Family Fare Pharmacy, 565 South State St
Wyoming: Family Fare Pharmacy, 1148 28th St
Detroit: University Pharmacy, 5254 Anthony Wayne Drive
University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy strives to improve the health of Nebraska through premier educational programs for pharmacists, other health professionals and graduate and post-graduate students. The college conducts innovative research and provides the highest quality patient care and outreach services to underserved populations. For more information, visit http://www.unmc.edu/pharmacy/.
Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu and follow us on social media.