Forward Living: Sometimes, the old way is the better way

11/14/2011 9:34 AM |

I like to think of myself as a forward-thinking gal — after all, this column is titled “Forward Living.” But sometimes I yearn for the “olden days.”

When I was a kid, we had a family pharmacist — didn’t everyone? “Doc” was our go-to person. If we scraped our knee, Mom sent us to Doc. In the ‘50s, before mass production of drugs became the norm, the pharmacist compounded a good deal of medicine. (I still get a gag reflex when I recall the foul-tasting cough syrup Doc concocted.) Along with our prescriptions, Doc dispensed sound advice, free of charge. Funny, Mom said his advice was the best medicine.

While my sons were growing up, I had a similar relationship with our pharmacists, Barry and Kenny. Not only did they know my family, they knew of the skeletons hanging out in the closet. By then, compounding drugs was less common, but good advice was still doled out free of charge. Once, when my son Jeff came down with a nasty infection, Barry opened the pharmacy after hours to fill his prescription.

But, alas, all good things end. The mom-and-pop pharmacies gave way to big box pharmacies. Still, one could establish a decent relationship with the pharmacist. Sure, they don’t know the nitty-gritty stuff of my life or the skeletons in my closet (probably a good thing); however, I’ve found them accessible. The drawback? It seems that once I developed a relationship with a pharmacist, they transferred to another store.

Our new prescription plan mandates that we use a mail-order pharmacy for our ongoing prescriptions. Recently, I used their online service and requested a prescription renewal. By email, I was informed that there were no refills left, but they (the pharmacy) would get in touch with my doctor. A couple of days later, I checked online. The notation stated: “Prescription refill in progress.”

Fast-forward one week. No prescription; first warning bell.

The following day, I received this email: “Your prescription order is eight days old, and the provider has not responded to our request, rendering your prescription null and void. Call your provider.” Muttering some non-printable expletives, I called my medical provider.

The nurse in the doctor’s office assured me that the prescription was sent on the day I requested it from the mail-order pharmacy. I called the mail-order pharmacy; they checked their records and nada. More warning bells.

Who was to blame became a moot issue. While my prescription was floating around in cyberspace, I was running low on medication. I contacted my doctor and he, in turn, called in a 10-day supply to the local pharmacy. Unbeknownst to me, the mail-order pharmacy found the doctor’s original prescription and attempted to fill the order. This maneuver resulted in the prescriptions canceling each other out. Yikes! The warning bells turned into full-blown siren.

I called the mail-order pharmacy and followed the endless prompt instructions. While waiting for a live person, the automated voice kept repeating, “We really want to help you.” You know what that’s like!
Finally, a live person. “Ms. Iannelli, tell me what happened.”

Despite my best intentions, when I began explaining my plight, my frustration gave way to anger (screaming sirens can do that). The customer service representative admonished me, “Ms. Iannelli, this is not my fault.”

“Listen,” says I, “I don’t give a d… who is at fault. Fix it.”

Long story short. I received a small portion of the prescription from the local pharmacy and the mail-order pharmacy sent the rest.

I have nothing against mail-order pharmacies and, usually, their system runs smoothly. That is, until there’s a glitch in the chain of command, then patient beware.

Can you understand why this forward-thinking gal sometimes yearns for the olden days? But methinks the olden days are just that. And, folks, from my vantage point, they ain’t coming back anytime soon.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

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