The way pharmacies, including A&E Pharmacy, handle vaccinations has evolved over the years.
In the last two years, pharmacies have become the universal driver of vaccinations, and A&E Pharmacy is no exception.
They now provide vaccinations for COVID, influenza, pneumonia, RSV and shingles. In 2023, the pharmacy had provided about 5,000 vaccinations to residents and employees at all Cassia communities in Minnesota, and some other communities, as well.
A&E Pharmacy General Manager Aaron Jennissen believes the vaccinations are making a difference.
“You decrease hospitalizations by having these vaccinations,” Aaron says. “The senior population is at a higher risk for negative outcomes.”
Pharmacy staff initially hosted flu vaccination clinics, returning later to administer the COVID vaccination once it became available.
A Quick Response During the COVID Pandemic
Because of the existing relationship between A&E Pharmacy and the Minnesota Cassia communities, many people received the COVID vaccination quickly.
“We were able to vaccinate residents weeks to a month before others living in senior living,” Aaron says. “It goes back to our coordination with the community … Our ability to expedite that process, I have to think that made a difference for residents of Cassia.”
Not only did residents receive the vaccinations, but also those who encountered them.
“We offered it to people who would walk into Cassia communities,” Aaron says. “Anyone who touched those residents: caregivers, families, suppliers, morticians, we vaccinated anyone adjacent to those residents.”
Aaron says he believes the partnership between A&E Pharmacy and Cassia made a difference.
“This model was able to deliver really good results to patients and anyone tied to Cassia in any way,” Aaron says. “That was really cool. It’s very clear this model of having an extension with the pharmacy is really important.”
Throughout the process, A&E Pharmacy learned how efficiently and effectively it could provide vaccinations.
Consistency is Key
Aaron says the partnership between Cassia and A&E Pharmacy works well because of the consistency the pharmacy is able to provide.
“They want to know we’re consistent every time,” Aaron says. “Turnover at the pharmacy is very low … We have a good place to work. This really helps the communities.”
A&E Pharmacy staff is very familiar with Cassia staff.
“They know what we do and we’re in tune with what their needs are because we work with them every day. So, that’s helpful,” Aaron says. “We feel like we’re on their team and part of them. When you have that relationship, people treat each other differently.”
This is not always the case when working with pharmacies.
“Sometimes, it can be adversarial,” Aaron says. “They want medications and someone is telling them no. This is different.”
More than Just Vaccinations
A&E Pharmacy is on the cutting edge of pharmaceutical technology.
The pharmacy provides comprehensive medication reviews for every Cassia resident in Minnesota.
“Pharmacists and students look at all the information of the resident and look for areas to improve care: drug interactions, high doses, low doses, too many medications. They make recommendations,” Aaron says. “This keeps costs lower for residents and improves outcomes.”
Pharmacogenomics are another way the pharmacy is on the cutting edge.
“It’s a unique thing where you can swab a resident, get DNA and identify how they metabolize medications in the body,” Aaron says. “That can be beneficial in a number of areas, from cardiac to memory care.”
This knowledge empowers staff to provide the best care for the residents.
“We can fine tune a person’s medication profile by knowing how they respond to that medication,” Aaron says. “It’s very much up-and-coming in pharmacy. We’re pioneers in that, especially in the senior population.”
A&E Pharmacy can also provide IVs in the Arden Hills location.
Buy In Makes a Difference
“There are pharmacies that just do the standard, put medications in a card and you don’t hear from them. That’s the first level,” Aaron says. “We’re always trying to look at the next level. Because of the relationship with Cassia, we’re able to do those things.”
That includes robust vaccination clinics with coordination from the Cassia staff.
“If we don’t have buy in, we’re not able to deliver those kinds of clinics,” Aaron says. “Looking at all the vaccinations, where they have gaps and be able to figure that out, work with staff to identify residents and take time to do that, it would be difficult if we weren’t intertwined the way we are.”