As health officials across the Midwest warn against the widespread reach of the flu virus, select Meijer pharmacies in Michigan are offering free diagnostic testing for influenza and strep throat to eligible patients.
Once patients are diagnosed, Meijer pharmacists will be able to administer tests and, in some cases, fill the matching prescriptions, under strict protocol set by a physician participating in the study.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer is collaborating with Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Pharmacy on a regional patient care study to examine the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic testing and the process by which medicines are administered to patients for influenza and strep throat in pharmacies.
Increased Accessibility Enhances Treatment
Explains Karen Mankowski, VP of pharmacy operations for Meijer: “This is not a replacement of physician services. Increasing accessibility to testing for flu and strep throat, and enabling pharmacists to work from those results means that patients might self-treat symptoms less and get better more quickly. That decreases the risk of spreading those common illnesses, and allows doctors and nurse practitioners to provide care to patients with more complicated conditions.”
The study enables pharmacists at select Meijer stores in Michigan to administer rapid diagnostic influenza or Group A Streptococcus tests and treat with prescriptions, if appropriate, with direction from a physician participating in the study. Diagnostic testing for the flu and strep throat will be offered to eligible patients at no charge (a $75 value) through August. Patients, ages 18 and older, complaining of signs and symptoms consistent with flu or strep throat, or those looking for medications related to the symptomatic treatment of flu or strep throat, could be eligible for testing and study participation.
Prior to the study, Meijer pharmacists underwent a training certification program, developed by the UNMC-Ferris State team and sanctioned by the Michigan Pharmacists Association, to administer the noninvasive Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA)-waived rapid tests.
Participating Meijer Pharmacies include:
- 2425 Alpine Ave., Grand Rapids
- 5531 28th St. S.E., Grand Rapids
- 1540 28th St. S.E., Grand Rapids
- 1997 E. Beltline N.E., Grand Rapids
- 3434 Century Center Dr. S.W., Grandville
- 0-550 Baldwin St., Jenison
- 746 E. 16th St., Holland
- 15000 US 31, Grand Haven
- 5121 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo
- 5125 W. Saginaw Hwy, Lansing
- 2055 W. Grand River, Okemos
- 1301 W. Eight Mile Road, Detroit
“Many of us forget how many people come to the pharmacy first anyway, when they have symptoms for flu and strep,” said UNMC’s Dr. Donald Klepser, who is also the principal investigator on the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) foundation grant to administer the program and study the results. “Stand at your pharmacy during cold and flu season and see how many people ask the pharmacist: ‘What should I take for this?’”
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer operates 204 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.