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Why a Shoppers pharmacist quit over the issue of symptomatic COVID-19 testing


Many pharmacists in Ontario aren’t too pleased about the idea of testing those with COVID-19 symptoms, but on pharmacist went as far as to quit over the policy.

Michael Miranda recently left his position as a pharmacist in a Toronto Shoppers Drug Mart when he told the company he was uncomfortable with performing the tests but was told to do them regardless.

“It should be the opinion of the individual pharmacy whether they are equipped to do this testing,” Miranda told CP24.

Read: Steps pharmacies are taking to make symptomatic COVID-19 testing as safe as they can

However, the way he sees it, the current system will cause more COVID-19 cases than it will find.

Specifically, Miranda says he and the pharmacy owner of the franchise raised several concerns, including having symptomatic people walking through the store and being in the same confined area set aside for giving COVID-19 vaccines. But, he says, they were told to get ready to provide testing.

“I have had conversations face to face with people saying ‘I have COVID symptoms, please test me,’ and they have coughed on me,” Miranda said.

CP24 obtained the training documents from Shoppers Drug Mart that specified that those pharmacists conducting the tests must participate in a “live training session” on the process.

“At least one pharmacy team member from each team must either attend the session or view the recording as soon as possible,” the document said.

Read: Rash or resourceful? Uproar over Ontario's go-ahead for pharmacies to test those with COVID symptoms

“They have no plans for in-person PPE training,” Miranda said. “Nobody has gotten any in-person training.”

CP24 reached out to Loblaws—Shoppers parent company—and were told that pharmacists were not being forced to perform these tests.

“As we’ve said all along, our stores are independently owned and operated, and as such have the final decision on providing symptomatic testing for patients,” the company told CP24. If the store owner does not want to participate, or does not believe they can do it safely, they don’t have to.”

However, according to Miranda, when he and the pharmacy owner raised their concerns, representatives from Loblaws visited their franchise and

But Miranda says that when he and the store owner raised concerns, two representatives from the company came to visit the location in an effort to convince them.

Miranda noted he has resigned in an effort to pressure the company and the Ontario Ministry of Health to reconsider this program, which now includes 585 pharmacies in Ontario.

“There is a reason we don’t put vaccination clinics in assessment centres, and Shoppers is trying to do both,” he said.

Read: POLL: How do you feel about symptomatic testing being permitted in pharmacies?

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