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As part of study, Meijer offers free testing for flu, strep throat
January 15th, 2014
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A dozen Meijer pharmacies in Michigan are providing free diagnostic testing for influenza and strep throat as part of a research collaboration, and as health officials in the Midwest warn of increased flu activity.
The supercenter retailer said Wednesday that for eligible adult patients, Meijer pharmacists will administer tests — and in some cases, fill the matching prescriptions — under strict protocol set by a physician participating in the study.
Meijer has partnered with Ferris State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy on a regional patient care study that gauges the efficacy of rapid diagnostic testing and the process in which medicines are administered to patients for flu and strep throat in pharmacies, according to Karen Mankowski, vice president of pharmacy operations for Meijer.
Under the study, Meijer pharmacists administer rapid diagnostic influenza or Group A streptococcus tests and treat with prescriptions, if necessary, with direction from a doctor participating in the study.
Testing for the flu and strep throat will be offered to eligible patients free, which Meijer said is a $75 value, through August. Patients complaining of signs and symptoms consistent with flu or strep throat, or those seeking medicines for flu or strep throat symptoms, could be eligible for testing and participation in the study, the retailer said.
"This is not a replacement of physician services," Mankowski said in a statement. "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."
Meijer noted that before the study, its 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.
The 12 participating Meijer pharmacies include stores in Grand Rapids (four locations), Grandville, Jenison, Holland, Grand Haven, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Okemos and Detroit, Mich.
"Many of us forget how many people come to the pharmacy first anyway, when they have symptoms for flu and strep," stated UNMC's Dr. Donald Klepser, the principal investigator on the National Association of Chain Drug Stores 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?' "
Overall, Meijer operates 204 supercenter stores, all with pharmacies, in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.