Ongoing COVID-19 Pharmacy updates, support, tools, and best practices to help navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in senior care facilities.
October 15, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccines: Have a Game Plan!
Greater than 80% of long-term care (LTC) facilities have submitted their COVID-19 vaccination plans to their state departments of health. Amid rapidly changing vaccination guidelines, now is the time to review your plan to make sure it meets your facility goals.
October 8, 2021
How to Prepare for COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters
Selecting a single date to accommodate COVID-19 vaccine administration for both residents and staff can be daunting. At Consonus, our VaccPack COVID-19 Vaccine Continuity program allows your community the flexibility to pick one or multiple days to vaccinate staff and residents. By utilizing the Consonus Continuity Program, administering COVID-19 vaccines should become part of your routine workflow. This will give you multiple opportunities to vaccinate staff and residents for both the initial series, third doses and booster doses. We are here to deliver COVID-19 vaccine and help you strategize in getting residents and staff vaccinated. Click below to learn how!
October 1, 2021
COVID-19 Booster Vaccinations
Following the awaited FDA approval, COVID-19 booster vaccinations are underway at many of your communities. Congratulations on working diligently to ensure that your residents and staff are receiving this extra layer of protection from COVID-19. For those of you still planning for booster vaccinations at your communities, we are here to help! Read this week’s FAQ below.
September 30, 2021
Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Approval: What you need to know
As the review of the COVID-19 booster dose has moved through approval agencies, we’ve been closely following the process. The FDA, ACIP, and CDC have given their stamp of approval on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster dose in certain populations. Terri Fagan, Director of Clinical Consulting for Consonus Pharmacy, is breaking down what this means, who is eligible, and how this additional layer of protection will help save lives. Watch the video below.
September 24, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Approval
We are pleased to report that each Federal vaccine approval agency has completed a review of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data. Upon completion of review, the agencies moved to endorse booster shots in certain populations, including long-term care residents (LTC) and others 65 and older, healthcare workers and those with underlying medical conditions that could put them at risk for contracting COVID-19. Today, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup has also completed its review of the federal process and has endorsed approval, allowing the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot after 6 months in California, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon.
Read the FAQ to learn what this means and who is eligible.
September 21, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Update
The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) met on Friday, September 17th, to discuss approval of booster doses for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, COMIRNATY. The committee, made up of independent reviewers, initially voted not to allow a booster for individuals ages 16 and up but then came back to unanimously recommend an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for individuals over age 65 as well as high risk individuals and healthcare workers. Their recommendation for timing of booster was at least 6 months after the completing the 2-dose series.
Read the Booster Update FAQ to learn what this all means and what is next.
September 10, 2021
Flu Vaccine FAQs + COVID-19 Vaccines
Consonus is now accepting orders for Influenza vaccine, and we are requesting order forms be returned by September 20th. We anticipate we will start receiving vaccine and distributing at the end of September and throughout October. Our best information to date does not suggest there will be a shortage of product.
Read the Flu Vaccine FAQ to review everything you need to know about the flu vaccine and considerations for the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.
September 3, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot Guidance & Preparation Checklist
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots this fall. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), met on August 30th to review data. They did not make a recommendation to amend the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for booster doses yet, but they discussed a preliminary risk-based approach to target long-term-care (LTC) residents and healthcare personnel. They will continue to meet and discuss data on the evolution of the pandemic and the use of COVID-19 vaccines. ACIP will make further recommendations on the use of boosters for the public after a thorough review of the evidence.
August 27, 2021
In this week’s FAQ Friday, we’re continuing to clarify the difference between the COVID-19 vaccine third dose and booster, who is eligible and when, what this week’s FDA approval means, and how to simultaneously prepare for flu vaccines. Read the FAQs below for the latest guidance and check back for more next week.
August 20, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose Guidance
As a trusted advisor and partner, Consonus Pharmacy is prepared to keep you informed about updated guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccine recommendations. As we have throughout the pandemic, Consonus will continue to work with State Health Departments as LTC advocates. Read the FAQs below the latest guidance about the COVID-19 vaccine third dose.
August 18, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Third Dose
Consonus Pharmacy is committed to ensuring our customers have the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. Consonus is actively participating in conversations with State Health Departments and the CDC to keep you informed. Read the FAQs below about the COVID-19 vaccine third dose.
August 13, 2021
With an increase of vaccine state mandates coming out over the last week, we have had an increase in inquiries about ordering vaccines from Consonus Pharmacy. Many of you have already “Activated” for our continuity program, so you are ready to order! Some have not “Activated” and will need to do so prior to ordering a COVID-19 vaccine from Consonus.
As your pharmacy partner, Consonus is prepared to deliver vaccines NOW.
Below you will find answers to common questions about activating your facility and ordering COVID-19 vaccine through Consonus Pharmacy.
July 9, 2021
With the introduction of vaccine lotteries, PPE requirements based on vaccination rates, and various state requirements for facility reporting, Consonus Pharmacy has had an influx of requests to look up new admission and new employee’s vaccine status. There are several ways that communities or an individual can look up their vaccination record. Of course, each state is slightly different, so we put together this reference guide for your convenience.
June 28, 2021
Two Resources to Help End the Pandemic
Now that we’re on the road to recovery, the COVID-19 vaccines aren’t just another tool in our kit to end the pandemic—they ARE the solution. CMS has started to post nursing home vaccination rates. What are you doing to maintain at least 75% participation? We have two resources for you!
- Leadership: The “COVID-19 Vaccine Resources” video is for you! We’d like to help you find those who are on the fence and turn their vaccine concerns into confidence. We’re sharing five strategies that have been proven effective for us and other customers.
- Hesitant Staff: Share the “COVID-19 Vaccine Facts” video with them! This addresses common misconceptions about the vaccines, and hopefully sets some fears to rest for those who are still reluctant to be vaccinated.
Watch and share the videos below.
June 4, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Update
Because Consonus customers were among the first in the country to receive the vaccine in December, some are now asking if the clock could be running out on critical antibodies. People want to know how long the COVID vaccine protection lasts and when a booster will be needed. There is significant speculation occurring around this topic that are leading some to be fearful around vaccine efficacy and preparing for the future. We can offer some reassurance with FACTS.
May 28, 2021
As you are working towards meeting or maintaining the 75% staff vaccine participation rate, we’re sharing new resources to help encourage vaccinations. The first flyer identifies 5 reasons to get vaccinated. This can be used with new staff or hesitant staff/residents to provide education and encouragement. The second flyer reminds life enrichment visitors that they may qualify to receive their vaccine on-site at your facility or community. Feel free to hang both assets in high-traffic areas of your building. Then, make sure to utilize the Consonus Pharmacy vaccine continuity program to order COVID-19 vaccines. Together, we can reach this 75% percentage goal!
May 28, 2021
Vaccine Continuity Webinar
Are You Maximizing the Vaccine Continuity Plan to Reach a 75% Participation Rate?
Phase 2 has officially launched in every state where we’ve been provided vaccine allocation. We know you’re all working towards that 75% participation rate.
In this webinar, we focused on best practices to maintain 75%, address hesitancy, tackled the perception of vaccination workload, and provided Federal, State, and clinical policy updates. Finally, we looked ahead to planning for fall, when COVID, Flu, and Pneumococcal vaccines all converge.
View the recorded webinar
May 14, 2021
Pfizer vaccine approved for adolescents 12-15 years old – what does this mean?
We’re breaking down the announcement, safety, and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine for young adults. But what does this mean to your senior care community? This age group now qualifies for the vaccine under our life enrichment vaccine continuity program! If your staff have kids this age or residents have grandkids this age, they now qualify to receive the vaccine and Consonus Pharmacy can help distribute product via our vaccine continuity plan. Learn more about our vaccine continuity plan.
April 30, 2021
Be an MVP!
Consonus Pharmacy has a playbook for COVID-19 Vaccine maintenance, and we are eager to share the program with you. A national goal of 75% has been put in place to help protect vulnerable seniors and colleagues. Consonus is here to help get you over the finish line. Achieving a high rate of vaccinations is a game-changer for long-term care facilities. When resident and staff rates are high and county positivity rates are low, we all win. Facilities will continue to reopen, allowing visitations without masks or social distancing and personal contact among fully vaccinated people.
Now is the time for a full-court press to educate and convince our staff of the importance of not waiting to get the vaccine. If they take the shot now, they will be an MVP on the team.
Update on Janssen (J & J) Vaccine
We know many of you have questions about the latest information surrounding the J & J vaccine and need clinical guidance and recommendations. We’re saying the lastest information we know, the data supporting it, the implications, and our recommendations.
April 23, 2021
The most important message we want to deliver this week is to act NOW and ensure your vaccine continuity plan is in place. We must all stay vigilant to slow surge of COVID-19 and do not want to slow down the pace of vaccinating. The “pause” on Johnson and Johnson (J & J) vaccine has not impacted our maintenance VaccPack program. Our Pfizer supply is strong and reliable.
- Get protection after the 1st dose: A recent CDC published study confirmed that Pfizer partial immunization (>14 days after first dose) provided preventive benefits with vaccine effectiveness of 80%.
- Unvaccinated residents had TRIPLE the risk of infection: Vaccinated residents and staff members in a Kentucky facility had a distinct advantage during a recent COVID-19 outbreak. The findings showed unvaccinated residents and staff had 3 and 4 times the risk of infection during the outbreak than vaccinated residents and staff members, respectively.
- Vaccinations prevented secondary transmission: A larger study in 78 Chicago nursing homes, found that most fully vaccinated residents and staff were not infected by outbreaks following the vaccine rollout. Most that contracted COVID-19 did not have symptoms or severe illness.
- Vaccination is essential to decreasing facility case counts: These new studies demonstrate that vaccination, and continued focus on infection prevention and control practices, are essential in keeping residents and staff safe and decreasing case counts in facilities.
Do not wait to get your COVID vaccine continuity plan in place. Consonus Pharmacy is equipped with product and ready to support our customers.
Consonus Product by pharmacy location (as of 4/23/21):
Oregon: Pfizer & Moderna
April 13, 2021
You have likely heard the developing news story that the FDA and CDC has recommended a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine. In contrast to what you may have heard about this bringing a halt to vaccinations in long-term care, this is not the case. At Consonus we are fully equipped with the Pfizer product and will continue to work together to vaccinate residents and staff.
Consonus is fully stocked with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and our vaccine continuity program will continue without interruption. If you are a Consonus customer and were expecting to be receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, it will now be substituted with Pfizer.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will convene on Wednesday, April 14th to review these cases and make additional recommendations. This is extremely rare, occurring in only 6 cases in over 6.8 million does (.0000857%) in females between 18-48 years old. There have been no red flags reported with either of the two MRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and can continue to be used. We will keep you updated as more information or resources become available.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your pharmacy or nurse consultant.
April 9, 2021
FAQ Friday – Get Your Vaccine Continuity Plan in Place Now
The latest COVID-19 forecast shows we must stay vigilant to slow the fourth surge of the virus. The cases are rising and as long-term care providers, we need to act NOW to keep facilities protected. We are concerned that the pace of vaccines is slowing down for seniors. We urge you to not wait to get your vaccine continuity plan in place and activated. Our seniors are vulnerable and if the more contagious variants take hold or if we relax our vigilance in vaccinations, we will see hospitalizations and deaths increase.
As your pharmacy partner, Consonus is prepared to deliver vaccines NOW. Sign up for the vaccine continuity plan.
March 29, 2021
Vaccine Continuity Plan Updates
We hosted our third webinar with Consonus Pharmacy clients on Friday, March 26th to discuss the next steps in the phase 2 vaccine continuity plan. Watch the recorded presentation and download the slides by clicking the links below.
Watch the presentation with passcode: FU&3tzhN
March 12, 2021
FAQ Friday – Clinical Updates
Consonus Pharmacy is just one week away from celebrating the completion of all vaccine clinics! As we celebrate this milestone, we are actively planning the vaccine continuity phase together to maintain the reduction in COVID positivity rates. We will keep you updated on this topic as well as share the latest clinical updates.
March 5, 2021
Vaccine Continuity Plan Updates
We hosted our second webinar with Consonus Pharmacy clients today to discuss the next steps in the phase 2 vaccine continuity plan. Watch the recorded presentation, download the slides, and access the #GetVaccinated Toolkit referenced in the webinar by clicking the links below.
Watch the presentation with passcode: P+#5t*Ng
February 26, 2021
50,000 Completed Vaccines
Consonus is close to a very important milestone. By mid-March, we will have completed all matched facility vaccine clinics plus additional communities that otherwise would not have had a path to get their seniors vaccinated! As we all navigate the next phase of vaccine continuity together, it is important to celebrate the accomplishment to date.
We have completed over 50,000 vaccines to seniors and staff in long term care. Having residents and staff fully vaccinated is a key step on the road to recovery and to maintain the reduction in COVID positivity rates.
As we approach this milestone, we’re answering commonly asked questions about the vaccine and what’s next.
February 22, 2021
Vaccine Continuity Plan
On Friday, February 19th, we hosted a webinar with Consonus Pharmacy clients to discuss the vaccine continuity plan once clinics wrap up. We discussed the ongoing plan to continue vaccinating new staff and residents to keep your facility safe. Watch the recorded presentation, download the slides, and review the flyer to better understand the plan. We’ll continue to be in touch as we wrap up vaccination clinics and move into this vaccine continuity plan over the coming weeks.
Watch the presentation with passcode: Rm$6JrxC
February 12, 2021
FAQ Friday: Preparing for the Third COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic and Beyond
Consonus is proud to announce the completion of 567 vaccine clinics resulting in approximately 44,000 vaccines administered to seniors and staff in long term care. Consonus Pharmacy has been honored to part of the CDC Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program and trusted to dispense vaccine in senior care facilities and communities.
As you know, pharmacy partners are hosting 3 on-site clinics at long-term care facilities (LTCF) enrolled in the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care (LTC) Program. This program for Covid-19 vaccinations was intentionally designed as a 3 clinic “strike force” program. Below are some FAQs to help administrators and clinical leadership prepare for who may get their COVID-19 vaccine dose at the final clinic and how to prepare for the future.
We are currently working with stakeholders, health departments, trade associations and profession leaders on future state to help devise health policy for the LTC sector on the plan for vaccine maintenance. It is important that we work together to ensure new admissions and employees have a path forward to obtain the vaccine. This lifesaving vaccine is the first step on the road to recovery.
February 5, 2021
Breaking News: New guidance to shorten bamlanivimab infusion time
One of the challenges for skilled nursing facilities to use monoclonal antibody (MAB) therapy has been the nursing time required to administer and monitor the infusion. We are pleased that the FDA just authorized revised preparation and administration instructions in the Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers for bamlanivimab. This revision allows for the pharmacy to compound smaller IV bags which shorten infusion times.
January 15, 2021
As your trusted pharmacy partner, we are answering commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. This week’s update addresses vaccine side effects, guidance for who should not receive a second dose, when to complete a VAERS report, and how Consonus defines eligible facility staff for the vaccine.
January 8, 2021
The COVID-19 vaccine is the first step on the road to recovery. As vaccine clinics continue to ramp up, participation is critical. If you need resources to communicate to Spanish-speaking staff about the efficacy of the vaccine, please see the video below.
December 31, 2020
Consonus Healthcare first informed you of the emergency use approval (EUA) of bamlanivimab on November 17th with a FAQ and a little humor on how to pronounce it. We now have an allocation of this product in each pharmacy and are eager to be a resource for those navigating COVID-19 outbreaks. Monoclonal antibody therapy in high-risk patients may reduce the length of symptoms and lessen the likelihood of hospitalization.
As your trusted pharmacy partner, we continue to work diligently to ensure all our customers gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine and to keep you updated on treatments through the complex and rapidly changing situation. Click the link below to view some of the FAQs about bamlanivimab infusions.
December 24, 2020
Terri Fagan is back, sharing her pharmacist’s outlook on the first week of COVID-19 Vaccine clinics this week. Watch the video to find out what she’s seeing from staff and residents who took the vaccine and why she’s feeling hopeful for the future on this road to recovery.
December 23, 2020
We know you’re likely getting questions from staff, residents, and responsible parties about the COVID-19 vaccine side effects. Here are some resources for monitoring and reporting adverse events and side effects. Click the link below for resources.
December 18, 2020
As your trusted pharmacy partner, we want to address some clinical questions you may have around the vaccine. We are optimistic about the vaccines and therapeutics being developed in response to the pandemic and we will continue to update you as we move through this dynamic time together. We put together an FAQ for COVID-19 vaccine clinical questions. Click the link below to view and feel free to share with staff and residents who will be receiving the vaccine.
December 17, 2020
Today, we are filled with hope as the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being administered in skilled nursing facilities around the nation. This also comes with a lot of media inquiries. To keep our customers equipped with best practices, we’re sharing the toolkit and plan we implemented to navigate these times.
December 10, 2020
As a Pharmacist, Terri Fagan’s role is to provide unbiased and evidence-based education to patients and residents on the risks and benefits of medications. Now, she’s sharing her educated opinion on 4 key questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Questions include: Is it safe? Is it effective? Are there any side effects? Am I going to be able to get it?
Watch the video for her answers and share it with staff, residents, and responsible parties.
We know you’re likely getting questions from staff, residents, and responsible parties about the COVID-19 vaccine. Now that you’ve watched the video above, you have a look into the efficacy of the vaccine. If you need a resource to share, download this COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ Handout.
December 10, 2020
COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Status
Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine approval process? In order for Consonus Pharmacy to provide the vaccine to your facility staff and residents, we must be approved at the federal and state level and then activated. This process is dynamic and the status can change daily. Check back here to see the status of approval in your state.
December 4, 2020
As your trusted pharmacy partner, we want to address the most common questions that our customers have had after navigating the sign-up process through the pharmacy partnership portals. We will continue to update you as we move through this dynamic time together.
December 2, 2020
The CDC has approved Consonus Pharmacy for COVID-19 Phase 1 vaccine distribution. In today’s video update, Neil Marshall, President of Consonus Pharmacy, shares the latest news and answers common questions about the vaccine distribution.
November 19, 2020
This week Moderna and Pfizer released interim results from their ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials showing results that the vaccines are about 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. Both companies have also announced that they will be submitting emergency use authorization (EUA) requests to the FDA in the coming weeks. This is very optimistic news that can help us turn the tide in this pandemic!
November 17, 2020
As your trusted pharmacy partner, we want to address some questions you may have following the FDA announcement on November 9th regarding the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) issued for the investigational monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy, bamlanivimab. We are optimistic about the vaccines and therapeutics being developed in response to the COVID-19 crisis and we will continue to update you as we move through this dynamic time together.
November 16, 2020
As your trusted pharmacy partner, we want to address the most common questions that our customers have had after navigating the sign-up process through the pharmacy partnership portals for a COVID-19 vaccine. We will continue to update you as we move through this dynamic time together.
November 3, 2020
Preparing for a COVID-19 vaccine is on the minds of many senior care providers. Please take a moment to review the most recent information from Phil Fogg and Neil Marshall by watching the COVID-19 Vaccine video update.
October 6, 2020
We’re sharing three ways your consultant pharmacist can help with the mental health and well-being of your residents.
August 25, 2020
We’re breaking down three things you can do to help navigate the dual challenges of the flu and the coronavirus (COVID-19). This video helps prepare and plan for flu vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
June 26, 2020
Should I be concerned about the recent media coverage on the increase in opioid-related deaths and correlation to COVID-19?
Yes. The nation is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, but the opioid epidemic remains in full force. The American Medical Association (AMA) reports that more than 30 states have had increases in opioid-related deaths, in correlation with the COVID pandemic. Early data has demonstrated that the stress from unemployment and economic hardship and the prolonged periods of social distancing, and overall uncertainty of COVID-19 have caused an increase in opioid-related mortality. Depression and anxiety are risk factors for addictions. For those with opioid addiction, access to medications is important. This is where we may see a ripple effect and impact in LTC facilities. As we are focused on infection control practices in our buildings during the pandemic, it is imperative to also remain diligent around controlled medication accountability to prevent diversion. A sample of some of the areas you should continue to monitor are:
- Continue controlled medication reconciliation processes
- Ensure consistency with storing documents, including delivery receipts
- Observe and audit shift count process
- Ensure Fentanyl patch placement is documented on the MAR and checked each shift
- Check PRN documentation on the MAR matches the controlled medication inventory sheets documentation
- Check security and access of medications awaiting disposal
- Dispose of unused and discontinued medications as frequently as possible
- Ensure access to all controlled medications is limited and secure
Your Consonus Nurses and Pharmacists are a trusted resource to advise around pain management or systems and monitoring to keep your residents and staff safe. Please reach out to your consultant with any questions.
June 19, 2020
Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 Treatment
Information around COVID-19 is quickly evolving. That includes recommendations for potential treatment options. Within a one-month period, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use hydroxychloroquine from the Strategic National Stockpile, and then cautioned against use outside of a hospital or clinical trial due to arrhythmias and now the emergency use authorization is revoked. The FDA concluded after continued review of the scientific evidence that hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19. Additionally, in light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other serious side effects, the known potential benefits of the medications no longer outweigh the known and potential risks. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are both FDA-approved to treat or prevent malaria. Hydroxychloroquine is also approved to treat autoimmune conditions such as chronic discoid lupus erythematosus, systemic lupus erythematosus in adults, and rheumatoid arthritis. Both drugs have been prescribed for years to help patients with these debilitating, or even deadly, diseases, and FDA has determined that these drugs are safe and effective when used for these diseases in accordance with their FDA-approved labeling.
Your Consonus pharmacists are drug experts and a great resource to keep you updated on the status of treatments being studied for COVID-19 patients.
June 12, 2020
Vaccines During a Pandemic
A safe and effective vaccine may be the best way to prevent COVID-19 transmission and infection. To date, no vaccine has been approved by the FDA, but more than 100 vaccines are in development globally and a few are being studied in humans after positive results in animals. Vaccines undergo a rigorous review of laboratory and clinical data to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these products. The FDA is expediting clinical trials for vaccines and scaling up of manufacturing capacity for high priority vaccines for COVID-19. A commercially available vaccine will likely not be available until 2021.
It is important to keep other immunizations on track during COVID-19. Vaccination is critical for some vulnerable patients, such as adults over 65, immunocompromised, children under 2, etc. Data is already suggesting a drop in vaccination rates in kids. This is raising concerns about disease outbreaks, such as measles or mumps, on top of COVID-19. The pandemic alone doesn’t change which vaccines you should or shouldn’t give. It is important to follow the usual CDC vaccine recommendations and for the vulnerable seniors we care for, ensure they are on schedule for vaccine needs, such as pneumococcal, Shingrix and influenza, as flu season approaches.
Stay up-to-date on vaccines with these additional resources:
- CDC: Schedule Changes & Guidance
- CDC: “Decline in Child Vaccination Coverage During COVID-19 Pandemic – Michigan Care Improvement Registry, May 2016-May 2020”
- AAFP: “COVID-19: Guidance for Family Physicians on Preventative and Non-Urgent Care”
- Pharmacist’s Letter: “Keep Immunizations on Track During COVID-19”
June 5, 2020
Consonus Pharmacy Provides Partnership During COVID-19 Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the senior care industry in ways we would have never imagined. There’s no playbook for these unprecedented times. As a provider, you may need to lean on your ancillary partners more than normal and attributes that may not have been important in the past are now more important than ever.
If you are a Consonus customer, you know that we’ve kept consistent pricing, provided consistent communication and education, and demonstrated resilience, among other things during this challenging time. We believe in being a partner and not just another vendor.
If you are not a current Consonus customer, we encourage you to evaluate your ancillary providers to determine the level of partnership they have provided during these trying times.
May 22, 2020
Consonus Pharmacy Reopening Plans
- Consonus Pharmacy’s reopening plan will be coordinated in conjunction with CMS’s Phase III.
- The plan will follow CDC and state guidance and will factor in consideration of your corporate and facility protocols.
- Consonus pharmacy modified operations to meet the CDC and CMS restrictions under Covid 19 while helping to maintain your compliance with CMS Rules of Participation.
- Modifications included
- pharmacist medication regimen reviews via remote health record access
- education programming and QAPI attendance via web conference
- and nurse consultation via electronic health record checks and online conferencing
- delivery via disposable packaging and no touch protocols
- We have a listing of considerations for prioritization of any onsite consultation when the time is right and look forward to working with you in partnership as you formulate your reopening plans.
May 15, 2020
Education resources for improving resident depression and anxiety symptoms for our residents living with dementia
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to how we live our lives. For our residents, the altered daily routines, uncertainty and social isolation, can lead to stress, fear, sadness and loneliness. Mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can worsen. For those living with dementia, it may even be harder to cope as they may or may not be able to fully comprehend the reasoning behind all the changes. Individuals living with dementia are therefore at a greatly increased risk for depression and anxiety due to isolation and changes in daily routine they have been experiencing. Recognizing changes that may signal symptoms of a mood or emotional disorder is vital in providing the best possible care and responding effectively.
Consonus pharmacy is committed to providing resources and education for our Memory Care communities. We believe in the philosophy of Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care and the goal to provide a positive dementia care culture. We have consultants who are certified trainers for Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach® to Care (PAC) and educate on dementia related awareness and provide knowledge and skill development in group settings. Please reach out to your consultant if you are interested in resources or education around this topic.
We are pleased to announce that Teepa Snow is presenting a live webinar on to help providers recognize and respond more accurately to depression and anxiety to reduce the chances for escalation and ‘non-helpful’ hospitalizations. This is a free event for all on May 28th from 12:00-1:00 PM PST.
May 7, 2020
We understand this can be a challenging time and the last thing we want is for a resident to worry about receiving and managing their medications. We’re outlining 5 ways Consonus Pharmacy can help minimize disruptions and maintain medication safety.
Q: How do I assist in getting a resident switched to Consonus Pharmacy?
A: There are three simple steps to sign a resident up with Consonus Pharmacy Services:
- Resident or responsible party to sign Consonus Agreement form.
- Gather face sheet, updated prescription insurance information and medication list. Please indicate medications not to be filled and sent.
- Fax information to Consonus Pharmacy.
Q: Can I get emergency medications for a resident that does not use Consonus Pharmacy as their preferred pharmacy?
A: Our biggest priority is the safety of each resident. As your contracted partner pharmacy, we will do everything possible to send emergency supplies, if needed. This is a unique situation that we all must work together to problem solve. Please call Consonus Pharmacy to discuss the individual situation.
Q: The family is unable to bring the medications into the community for their loved one. Can Consonus help?
A: We realize that families will be facing their own challenges related to COVID-19, making managing medications for their loved one more complicated. Options in this case would be to sign the resident up to utilize Consonus as their preferred pharmacy or contact us to arrange emergency supply of medications.
Q: Does Consonus charge for emergency fills for residents that do not use Consonus?
A: Because taking care of seniors is the most important thing to Consonus, we are waiving all emergency delivery charges for non-Consonus residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Will Consonus dispense over the counter medications for a resident that does not use Consonus as their primary pharmacy?
A: Like any other medication, we will dispense in bubble pack systems, which are resident specific and in standardized packaging that the community is accustomed to. Standard packaging and systems decrease the risk for medication errors.
May 1, 2020
Consonus Pharmacy Consultants Update
As CMS allowed only nominal waivers to the Rules of Participation, how have the pharmacy consultants adapted services to maintain regulatory requirements and meet facility and community needs?
The Consonus Pharmacy consulting team adapted quickly to innovate ways of working within the COVID-19 restrictions. We are pleased to announce through leveraging of technology and remote resources that there were no delays in scheduled visits by the nurse and pharmacist teams. Not only are our nurse and pharmacist consultants helping customers navigate COVID-19 issues that may arise, but also, we are continuing to monitor the safety and compliance of existing systems.
Here are just a few ways that Consonus Pharmacy consultants have quickly adapted and are monitoring remotely:
- Infection Prevention:
- COVID positive individualized and emergency medication storage planning to reduce infection potential and preserve PPE.
- Prompt provision of infection control policies and procedures, coupled with education for focused surveys.
- Preservation of PPE:
- Evaluations to consolidate medication passes where able.
- Pharmacist assessment for temporary suspension of medications / ointments to decrease direct contact and preserve PPE.
- PDPM Programming:
- Continuation of early pharmacist intervention on all admissions (aMRRs) to protect patient safety and financial implications for skilled nursing clients.
- Controlled Substance Programming:
- Controlled medication accountability reports developed.
- Emergency supply monitoring.
- State waiver assistance for virtual drug destruction.
- QAPI Meetings, Medication Regimen Reviews and Inservices:
- Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) meetings: Psychoactive / QAPI via virtual communications held on time and in compliance with your CMS mandates.
- Education and training provided routinely via remote presentation.
- Resident-centered pharmacist reviews to optimize medication regimens.
During these times, it is important to not only deal with the task at hand, but also to maintain your systems and compliance. Please contact your nurse or pharmacist consultants if you need assistance. We are available to help you meet your immediate and long term clinical and compliance goals.
April 30, 2020
Remdesivir use for COVID-19
Dr. Fauci says Remdesivir is a “very important first step” in fighting coronavirus and will set a new “standard of care” for treatment. The Consonus Pharmacy team put together 6 things to know about Remdesivir. Click the link below to learn more.
April 17, 2020
Resources & Trainings
Consonus Pharmacy has a longstanding history of working together collaboratively with Oregon Care Partners (OCP) on developing curriculum and training caregivers. OCP and Relias are now offering free, unlimited access to relevant resources to help healthcare professionals and individuals prepare and prevent the spread of Coronavirus and Influenza. There are more than 130 free online classes available. Please help spread the word and share these resources with your network of caregivers, families and others who will benefit.
Important Update on Medication Supply
Media and public health authority reports are fueling concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on drug supply. We want you to know:
1. Consonus has not experienced any systemic, broad based negative impact on medication supply.
2. It is not necessary to “stock up” or make broad changes to your pharmacy ordering patterns at this time
April 16, 2020
Avoid Fraud Scams
The coronavirus pandemic has created a new epidemic of fraudsters and scammers, preying on the vulnerability of a public hungry for treatments, tests, personal protection equipment, and more. These schemers offer products that are unsafe, unproven, phony, and harmful, with no regard for public health and safety. It is important for pharmacists to be aware of these schemes and scams. Don’t unsuspectingly fall prey to these offers, and be armed with information to warn your patients. Awareness also helps you ask your patients targeted questions if they describe unexpected side effects from drugs or unexplained symptoms.
Read the update from APhA on Fraud Scams: Read Update
Consonus Pharmacy has updated the Hydroxychloroquine Facility Communication that was originally posted on April 2, 2020.
The updated version includes two new pieces of information:
- Diagnosis requirement
- AMDA recommendation/stance on use of hydroxychloroquine
April 7, 2020
“Our healthcare workers have been nothing short of heroes”.
Phil Fogg, CEO of Marquis Companies and Consonus Healthcare shares a new way you can support Healthcare Heroes who are working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video!
To support #HealthcareHeroes, follow these steps:
1. Download your free #HealthcareHeroes printable here or purchase your own here
2. Find a place to proudly display the You Are Vital poster or sticker
3. Take a picture of yourself with it and post to social media
March 23, 2020
Important Update on Temporary Delivery Changes
Beginning March 24th, Consonus is making temporary adjustments to our delivery methods to maximize our Infection Prevention and Control efforts. All deliveries from Consonus will be in disposable paper bags, no signature is required upon acceptance of delivery – the driver will simply record the name of the recipient, and returns will be sent in pharmacy provided plastic bags. More details provided in the link below.
March 19, 2020
Q: Is there any evidence that NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as Ibuprofen, worsen COVID-19 if used to manage the symptoms of pain or fever?
A: No. The World Health Organization (WHO) clarified recent guidance on ibuprofen. There is currently no strong scientific evidence that ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs, can make COVID-19 worse.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, ““I have not seen any firm data to indicate there is a problem or prove there is not a problem”. He also said physicians widely believe acetaminophen (Tylenol) is best for reducing a fever, if that is the primary goal of the treatment.
NSAID use is often limited in the older population related to known side effects and risks (bleeding, peptic ulcer, increased blood pressure and kidney injury) that often outweigh the benefits. Current advice includes that these medicines are used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible period.
If your patient is already taking Ibuprofen, or another NSAID, to manage conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or other chronic pain, we do not advise stopping out of concern about COVID-19.
As with all medication research in context of the pandemic, it is constantly evolving. If you have any questions around the use of NSAIDs or other medications, please contact your consultant pharmacist.
March 18, 2020
Q: Are there any approved treatments for COVID-19 today?
A: No. Some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials. The World Health Organization is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range of partners. None of the investigational therapies are proven, but literature is evolving quickly. Currently, we do NOT recommend folding any of the investigational therapies into practice. Some of the options that are under investigation are:
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)/ Chloroquine– best known for its use in rheumatic diseases/malaria, being investigated for activity for coronaviruses
- Antivirals (oseltamivir)– no antiviral drug has been proven to work against COVID-19 in humans, although many randomized controlled trials are ongoing
- Remdesivir (GS-5734, RDV) -not FDA-approved and is available for investigational use only. It is a nucleotide analog antiviral
- Corticosteroids– are not recommended as part of treatment for COVID-19 unless other indications exist
- Nebulized bronchodilators- may risk spread of the virus, in general meter dose inhalers (MDIs) are preferred. Ask your pharmacist for guidance.
- Antibiotics- are generally NOT recommended
- Empiric neuraminidase (NMD) inhibitor- Data does not support use for COVID-19
- HIV therapies-Lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra)- under investigation
- Tocilizumab (Actemra) – inteurlukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitor being investigated for cytokine storm associated with severe COVID-19 disease
- ACE-inhibitors/ ARBs (angiotensin-receptor blockers)- no experimental or clinical data demonstrating beneficial or adverse outcomes among COVID-19 patients using ACE-I or ARB medications
Resources for ongoing studies and drugs in the pipeline:
March 17, 2020
Today’s update applies to Assisted Living Facility (ALF) Customers:
We realize that in your community you may have several pharmacy providers that residents and families have chosen to work with. As your partner in the delivery of care we want to ensure that you know that we are here to help you and residents in times of need. As more families become personally affected by COVID-19, their ability to obtain medications through their normal channels may be inhibited. If a resident uses another pharmacy and is unable to obtain medications in a timely manner related to delivery delays, we’re here to help. We will waive all emergency delivery fees during this national crisis. Please review the Medication Management Preparedness Alert and FAQ for additional details.
March 16, 2020
Consultant Pharmacist Visitation Update:
With the new guidance restricting visitor access to all facilities our consultants are leveraging technology to provide services remotely for our customers. To help prevent and control the spread of COVID19 we are eliminating all non-essential visits. Pharmacists will be completing MRR (medication regimen review) off-site using Electronic Health Records/MARs and participating in IDT meetings via teleconference or webinar options.
For communities that do not have remote chart access or paper charts, we will work with facility leadership on a plan to provide a modified service to ensure compliance with MRR regulations during this National State of Emergency. We understand the consultant services are essential to patient safety and we don’t want to lose focus on the importance of medication management in addition to infection control. In addition to the scheduled MRR, we will continue to provide admissions reviews (aMRRs) for SNFs and interim reviews (iMRR) on demand to meet patient needs.
Consultant Nurse Visitation Update:
In line with the pharmacist visitation policy, the nurse will also be leveraging technology to support you and your team. The goal of the nurse consultant team, is that there is no disruption to your normal consulting schedule. The Consonus Nurse Consultants are well versed in eHR’s and can assist with monitoring your health record, while you are focused on patient and resident care. The nurses are also available to do education via webinar and answer any questions related to pharmacy processes that you may need clarification on. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your consultant team for any question and ideas on how they can support your patient care efforts.
March 12, 2020
Consonus Pharmacy’s Regional Director of Operations, Teri Ferriera, is a featured presenter in ASCP’s free webinar “COVID19: Latest Guidance from the Front Lines” on Friday, March 13th.
Hear from the Teri and other pharmacists and health professionals helping to care for some of the nursing facilities in Washington State and around the country already hit hard by the coronavirus.
There is NO pre-registration for this webinar.
March 10, 2020
Q: Do I need to notify the pharmacy if we have suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within our facility?
A: Yes. Consonus Pharmacy is taking every precaution to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you have a suspected or confirmed case, please reach out to your consultant nurse, pharmacist or call the pharmacy directly. Upon the receipt of this information Consonus Pharmacy will elevate the pharmacy infection control policy to Level 4, which includes more intensive precautionary steps in order to keep our patients and staff safe and our operations and customer facilities void of contaminants.
Q: Can the pharmacy provide COVID-19 Test Kits to clinicians?
A: No. The CDC indicates as availability of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 increases, clinicians will be able to access laboratory tests for diagnosing COVID-19 through clinical laboratories performing tests authorized by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Clinicians will also be able to access laboratory testing through public health laboratories in their jurisdictions.
Q: Are there any antiviral medications recommended to prevent or treat COVID-19?
A: No. There are currently no antiviral drugs licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19.
However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. World Health Organization is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range of partners.
The FDA is aggressively monitoring the market for any firms marketing products with fraudulent COVID-19 diagnosis, prevention or treatment claims. The FDA will use every authority at their disposal to protect consumers from bad actors who take advantage of a crisis to deceive the public. Refer to trusted sources for information, such as CDC, FDA, WHO or contact your pharmacist with questions.
March 4, 2020
IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM CONSONUS PHARMACY
Consonus Pharmacy is committed to keeping your staff and residents safe. This Frequently Asked Questions update addresses common inquiries that we’ve been receiving regarding the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on your pharmacy services. The news is changing rapidly. We will send new updates as conditions change.
Date: Information based on status at 5 PM PST, March 4, 2020.
Q: Do any of the sites served by Consonus currently have verified cases of COVID-19?
Q: Will the pharmacy have a shortage of meds? How should we ensure meds are available?
A: There are no indications that medication supplies will be negatively impacted at this time.
Consonus Pharmacy sources our medication supply through? Cardinal Health, one of the three largest distributors of medications in the U.S. We are in constant contact with their team as they monitor the impact of Coronavirus on the world’s drug supply chain. At present, there is no immediate direct threat to availability of medications. There are some raw material suppliers in the area of Wuhan, China, but the overall supply chain has not been negatively impacted. None of Cardinal’s generic products come from these sites. Cardinal has been proactively monitoring the situation for the last month, and they have worked with suppliers to secure additional safety stock. We will continue to monitor and will advise if the supply situation is impacted in any way.
Q: I have families requesting a private purchase of a 1-month extra supply.? If we ask for costs and place an order on their behalf do you recommend this?
A: Current conditions do not merit advance purchase of medication supply.
There have been advisories published in the media that recommend advance purchase, but those are aimed at members of the public not currently residing in care settings with medication management practices in place. We can accommodate this request if it is important for peace of mind to a resident, but it is not something we recommend at this time.
Q: Are any delays in pharmacy services anticipated?
A: No delays in pharmacy services are expected at this time. We remain fully staffed, and delivery services are operating on usual timelines.
Q: What safeguards are being put in place to ensure uninterrupted pharmacy service?
A: Consonus is equipped and staffed to sustain a 24-7 operation. We have a full Emergency Preparedness plan in place and have initiated escalated hygiene practices to help prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Q: Will my Consulting Pharmacist or nurse visits be impacted?
A: Consultants who might pose a risk to facility staff and patients will not visit served facilities. Ideally, we have remote access available to your EHR system in place and can continue full service without interruption. If you would like to take further steps to arrange remote access, please contact your consultant to arrange. The full policy is:
- Consultants that are sick should not visit facilities and notify supervisor
- Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications
- Consultants should refrain from visiting the buildings for non-essential reasons
- Consultants should not work in facilities that are having a respiratory outbreak
- Before visiting a facility, Consultants should contact facility leadership on the same day and ensure there are no respiratory outbreaks or surveillance for outbreaks
- Consultants should monitor e-mails daily for pharmacy communication regarding infectious disease outbreaks in facilities
- Before entering a building, Consultants should monitor for signs posted outside to notify the public of any respiratory outbreak
- If consultants are working in a facility and become aware of documented respiratory outbreaks or surveillance for respiratory outbreaks, they should leave the facility and reschedule the work or complete remotely if possible
- If consultants have the option, they should complete reviews remotely with electronic health records
- Recommend technology to attend IDT meetings (zoom, webinar, conference calls)
- If remote reviews are not an option and the review/meeting cannot be postponed, please contact your supervisor for guidance
- Before consultants travel, they should check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations and consult supervisor
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Q: Can we purchase protective gear (PPE) (i.e. masks (surgical/procedural/N95, gloves) through your pharmacy?
A: Consonus does not currently have enough to distribute. Those products are on allocation, which tends to lock supply down to existing business relationships. Facilities should work closely with their current medical supply provider to maximize your allocation of PPE products. Consonus will continue to effort through our industry contacts to secure PPE product, but none is available at this time.
Q: Can Consonus assist with the logistics of getting staff fitted for N95 masks?
A: Consonus does not provide N95 mask fit testing services. However, our research has found that many area hospital systems offer this service as part of their Occupational Health service. While some of these hospital systems only provide this service to staff, many have opened their doors to outside companies for fit testing services.
Additionally, many private companies, such as Concentra, have locations found throughout the Consonus footprint and are willing to schedule these services after connecting with their team.
Q: What additional steps is Consonus taking to reduce the likelihood of transmission between the pharmacy and facility?
A: Consonus escalated to Level 2 in our Hygiene Policy. That policy focuses on practices in the pharmacy and our direct interactions with facility and community staff and patients. All steps in that policy are designed to reduce the likelihood of transmission of infectious agents between the pharmacy and all points of service. Level 2 practices include delivery drivers with PPE gloves that will be disposed after each delivery drop, and tote cleaning procedures to disinfect returned pharmacy totes. We recommend that e kits and Cubex cubies remain in the medication room when not in transport to and from your facility.
Care facilities should be diligent about executing your internal infection control policies and engage in thorough communication with your staff to gain adherence to basic hygiene practices recommended by the CDC.
Q: Do we need to proactively get providers orders?
A: Continue to follow standard practices for managing medication orders.
Q: What can we focus on to reduce the chance of Emergency Room visits?
A: Reducing the chance of Emergency Room visits can prevent bringing illnesses back to the community.
- Confirm that you have a COVID-19 Admission Policy based on current guidance from CDC, Health Department, and AMDA Guidelines
- Review if your providers have a Physician/NP provider decision-making protocol or tool for SNF/ICF, ALF and residential patients with COVID-19
- Follow protocols from CDC, DHS, and ACHA for best practices for preventing the spread of the COVID-19. Be in close contact with your local and state health department and monitor the CDC COVID-19 website for the latest information as public health guidance will shift as the outbreak evolves.
March 3, 2020
Consonus Pharmacy sources all our medication supply through Cardinal Health, one of the three largest distributors of medications in the U.S. We are in constant contact with their team as they monitor the impact of Coronavirus on the world’s drug supply chain. At present, there is no immediate direct threat to availability of medications. There are some raw material suppliers in the area of Wuhan, China, but the overall supply chain has not been negatively impacted. None of Cardinal’s generic products come from these sites. Cardinal has been proactively monitoring the situation for the last month, and they have worked with suppliers to secure additional safety stock. We will continue to monitor and will advise if the supply situation is impacted in any way.