On March 16, 2020, ACP team members began working distantly in a virtual environment, committed to reviewing return to our central operating environment by May 1, 2020. Rapidly, the comfort of how we have always worked dissipated, and new behaviours through new experiences had to be shaped. Early in this new world, we are grateful for our Information Management/Information Technology and Communications teams, as everything that we have achieved during this short (despite feeling long) time required their effort as a foundation.
Our effort during COVID-19 continues to focus on three goals:
- building capacity within the pharmacy workforce to ensure access to pharmacy services,
- protecting the health of pharmacy teams and the individuals they serve, and
- advocating policies to maintain access to drugs by those who need them most.
Our earliest priority was to engage provincial and national partners to develop guidance and resources to support pharmacy teams be as safe and effective as possible during the pandemic. This resource continues to grow through new guidance and updates to what was previously published.
Concurrently, our Registration and Competence teams have analysed and provided options to support Council to make informed decisions to accommodate pharmacy human resource needs. They have addressed policies to support non-practising and retired members returning to practice, accommodation for provisional pharmacists and pharmacy technicians engaged in structured practical training, accommodation for continuing professional development requirements of pharmacists renewing their annual permits for 2020-21, and amended processes to support annual pharmacy licence renewal.
Events like ACP’s Leadership Forum, Grad Brunch, and Celebration of Leadership have been cancelled for 2020, to resume in 2021. Others, such as our Tri-annual Leadership Symposium and the APEX Awards Celebration, have been postponed, hoping that they might be scheduled later in 2020. In-person Council meetings have been cancelled in lieu of more frequent virtual meetings.
ACP will not be able to return to our central administrative operations on May 1. We will continue to operate virtually and will assess our return based on guidance from the province and other organizations. It is likely that our return will be staged, balancing opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness with safety.
During the past six weeks, some core programs and services were “put on hold.” The vendor delivering our ethics and jurisprudence exams may not be operational until at least June 22, 2020. ACP is researching options to ensure access to the exam resumes as soon as possible.
Pharmacy inspections were postponed. We are starting to pilot virtual solutions, particularly for pre-opening inspections for new pharmacies. We will hold our first virtual hearing tribunal this week.
We apologize for these delays and appreciate the anxiety that some of you are experiencing as a result of them. We are committed to ensuring that all of our core programs and services become easily accessible; however, as I have shared, many will be availed in a different way. I encourage you to watch for weekly updates, as these opportunities become available.
In closing, I again extend my personal gratitude and appreciation to each of you on the front lines. Your role has never been so challenging, yet so important. Take every measure to stay healthy, as without your health, you cannot support the health of those you serve and your community. I know that hugs feel like a distant past, but share your appreciation and support for one and other through unending thanks and many cheers (no high fives though).
Thank you for all you do!