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Pharmacist creates unique hashtag to spotlight poor working conditions

An Oklahoma pharmacist is sounding the alarm about working conditions within retail pharmacies.

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An Oklahoma pharmacist is sounding the alarm about working conditions within retail pharmacies.

Doctor of pharmacy Bled Tanoe told sister station KOCO this is a matter of life and death. So, she created a unique hashtag — #PizzaIsNotWorking — to get her point across.

Tanoe said free pizza parties are not fixing the problem, which according to her, has only gotten worse because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"How the conditions have been affected, not just the pharmacists and technicians, but also the patient," Tanoe said.

Tanoe has made it her mission to spotlight the working conditions for retail pharmacists and technicians.

"Overwhelming pressure to keep up with the work," Tanoe said. "Preventing me from providing the best patient care that I wanted for my patient."

She said this was already a problem that was made much worse by the pandemic.

"Adding the COVID vaccine and COVID testing, and as we're heading into the flu season," Tanoe said.

She told KOCO that on top of filling prescriptions and talking with patients about their care, they are now giving COVID-19 tests and vaccines.

"Doesn't really leave us enough time to really focus on what really matters: To make sure that the patient is safe," Tanoe said.

According to Tanoe, it's something that's created an unbearable and possibly dangerous workload.

"Because we are feeling so overwhelmed, that you as a patient, you are in danger," Tanoe said.

She said it could be deadly if a pharmacist makes a mistake because they're pulled in too many directions.

"We're not talking, 'I went to McDonald's and had a bad burger,'" Tanoe said. "Anyone that deals with someone's life that is not working in the proper conditions has a higher chance of making a mistake. That could cost someone's life."

She hopes to work with lawmakers or lobbyists to make fundamental changes to how retail pharmacies operate so they can get back to the excellent patient care she says is what they're all passionate about in the first place.