GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- As health officials across the Midwest warn against the widespread reach of the flu virus, select Meijer pharmacies in Michigan will offer free diagnostic testing for influenza and strep throat to eligible patients, enabling Meijer pharmacists 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 that examines the effectiveness of rapid diagnostic testing and the process by which medicines are administered to patients for influenza and strep throat in pharmacies, said Karen Mankowski, vice president of pharmacy operations for Meijer.
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.
"This is not a replacement of physician services," Mankowski said. "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."
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:
"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 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?'"
About Meijer: Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 204 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. As a pioneer of the "one-stop shopping" concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive electronics departments, garden centers and apparel offerings. Additional information on Meijer and the ability to shop for more can be found at www.meijer.com. Follow Meijer on Twitter @twitter.com/Meijer and @twitter.com/MeijerPR or become a fan at www.facebook.com/meijer.
Joe Hirschmugl, 616-791-3943
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