A local pharmacy is the first in the state to offer testing for potential cases of flu or strep throat.
Jennifer Baker, pharmacist and co-owner of West Knox Pharmacy, along with pharmacist Sam Moore, are certified to perform the swab tests under a state law passed in 2016.
In May, the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy released the protocol for pharmacists to administer the testing.
Baker and Moore traveled to Atlanta to complete the required training at Mercer University’s College of Pharmacy, offered by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
In addition to 16 hours of classroom work, Moore said the training required four hours of hands-on study.
For patients who come into the pharmacy for testing, Baker or Moore will perform an initial evaluation, including blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and pulse.
In addition, the pharmacist will interview the patient concerning the symptoms to better determine whether it may be the flu or strep.
Symptoms of strep throat include: Sore throat, fever, enlarged cervical lymph nodes, headache, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle pain, and a rash.
Symptoms of the flu include: a fever that comes on quickly, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, fatigue, body aches and a headache, especially around the eyes.
“We wanted to be able to help people find out if they have the flu or strep throat before they go out and spread it to other people,” Baker said.
If the exam indicates a potential flu or strep throat case, the pharmacist will conduct the test to confirm it.
The test involves taking a swab from the back of the throat to test for strep throat or from the nose in potential flu cases.
The swab is then rubbed onto a testing strip, which is placed in an analyzer.
A new testing strip is used for each patient, after which it is disposed of.
Testing for the flu takes approximately 10 minutes. The results of the strep throat test are known in two minutes.
Baker said, at the moment, the actual testing can’t be billed to insurance. The cost of the test is $19.95.
“That is just above the cost of our supplies,” Baker said.
In the event of a positive diagnosis, the pharmacist may prescribe medication, which can be billed to the insurance.
Under the pharmacy board’s protocols, the pharmacists are working under a physician’s supervision
Baker said the doctor is Dr. James West, a family doctor in Barbourville.
Baker said the protocol prohibits the pharmacists from calling the prescription into another drug store.
The testing is available on a walk-in basis during the pharmacy’s business hours.
It is open 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“If it seems like something people are interested in, we will extend those hours, especially during flu season,” Baker said adding a patient does not have to be a West Knox Pharmacy customer to have the testing done.
The state law limits the testing to individuals ages 5 and above.
“We want to make it convenient for the people of Corbin and Knox County to get health care in these cases instead of waiting to be seen at the doctor’s office or hospital emergency room,” Baker said adding it is similar to when pharmacists were authorized to give immunizations.
West Knox Pharmacy is located on U.S. 25E approximately one-half mile south of the Trademart Shopping Center.