By Pat Person, past president of the California Pharmacists Association
Many parts of Kern County are categorized as “medically underserved areas” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, meaning those residents do not have adequate access to medical professionals. Quite often, the local pharmacist is their most readily accessible health care professional. Pharmacists are now trained to provide immunizations, furnish smoking cessation products, order lab tests, furnish travel medications, and will soon be allowed to furnish oral contraceptives.
As a Bakersfield pharmacist who has been practicing for over 30 years, I see first hand how customers rely on pharmacy services to maintain their health and treat illness. Pharmacists are available to consult with patients on a wide variety of topics, and can provide valuable information on the use of the medications. Many provide additional services that will benefit the patients they serve. It’s been determined that about 95 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, so in MUA communities it is no surprise that local residents turn to their pharmacist when other medical professionals not as easily accessed.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy now has the opportunity to become a cosponsor of H.R. 592, the Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, a bipartisan bill that aims to expand the types of services that pharmacists can provide, which will help the pharmacists better serve the MUA communities. On behalf of the pharmacists who are McCarthy’s constituents, and the patients that we serve and who rely on our availability and expertise, I urge him to do so.