Letters Jan. 14: Rules for prescription refills; hurricane aftermath; pedestrian safety

Repeat prescriptions from your pharmacist

I have been reading with interest the distressed stories from patients trying to get repeat prescriptions. There is, unfortunately, a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts.

This is not fake news which is aimed to mislead, but a failure of physicians, pharmacists and health authorities to appropriately inform patients.

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A physician can prescribe medications for up to one year, but no more than three months can be dispensed at a time. This makes sense. It would be neither safe nor fiscally responsible to dispense 365 days of medications of any type. Over a year there is a risk of theft or accidental loss. With some medications that can be a lot of money. (For example, Lipitor, $704.)

A reasonable protocol for long term stable patients is for the physician to see the patient once a year, and at that time prescribe “name and dose of drug - Mitte 90 - repeat x 3 at 90 day intervals.”

This would not work for every patient by any means; some will need to be seen every three months or even more frequently.

An opportunity was lost in 2001 and subsequently when a binding arbitrator suggested that a fee of one-quarter of an office visit would be appropriate to cover the family physician’s time, responsibility and staff help to renew prescriptions over the phone. This binding arbitration was rejected by the provincial government at that time, and so the system is still having to bear the cost of office visit fees for many prescription renewals — large or small.

It is not widely known that pharmacists are now able to repeat selected long-term prescriptions — dispensing up to 90 days at a time, and totalling up to one year from the date of the original prescription, even if this did not specify repeats. For this, the pharmacist receives an appropriate fee.

In light of this change, I would hope that pharmacists can pick up the challenge, and lineups at the clinics will become shorter.

Chris Pengilly
retired family physician

Hurricane Dorian articles touch my heart

The following two articles have touched my heart. :Woman 85, bobbed for days as sea filled house during Hurricane Dorian,” Jan. 12 and “Canadian volunteers help Bahamas recover from devastating hurricane,” Nov. 24.

I have recently returned from front-line disaster recovery in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian. The devastation is indescribable, people have lost everything to their name, sometimes even loved ones.

Somehow they are resilient and grateful for any assistance that comes their way. All Hands and Hearts who I volunteer with has made a two-year commitment to work on Abaco Island. The effects and the recovery from a natural disaster do not last a day or two, nor months, but years or even a lifetime.

When the media coverage stops, people forget, so thank you Times Colonist for keeping this story, which is so close to my heart, alive in Victoria.

Ann Laidman

Helping people with mental illness

Thanks to Mayor Leonard Krog of Nanaimo, the issue of the mentally ill homeless people has been brought to our attention.

It is time that Riverview is re-opened to accommodate those among us who are not, and, for the most part, are unable to care for themselves. It is foolish of us, as a society to think that it is cost effective to house (or not to house) these people in cities, where they are easy targets for drug pushers.

Before Riverview was closed, the mentally disordered were not seen on the streets to the degree they are now, nor were they drug addicted.

The government of the time might have had altruistic motives for placing people in the community; but I feel it was thought to be more “cost effective” to place the residents into group homes. Unfortunately, the group homes were not opened in any great amount and those that did were not staffed by people trained in caring for those with psychiatric disorders.

Some of the people, by dint of their disease, are difficult to house, to medicate, and to function at a level that would allow them to live a reasonable life.

The name “institutional” should be changed. It has a connotation of “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest” and the limited thinking of the day without the benefit of today’s medications and different therapies. Small residences at Riverview could function and give security to those who need it. It is more than cruel to continue to allow what is happening on our streets today. One has only to look at the destitute, drug-addled people who hang out on the sidewalks talking to themselves.

A society is judged by how we treat the most vulnerable and we have failed.

Jo Vipond

Appreciate work of High Commission staff

Re: “Canada House’s staff is too large,” letter, Jan. 11.

The letter-writer who complained about the number of employees at the High Commission in London, is obviously uninformed. I worked at the High Commission when it was in Grosvenor Square a few years ago.

The employees are working in defence, immigration, trade, security, physical resources, film, tourism and numerous other areas. They promote our wonderful country. They are very busy indeed and should be appreciated by Canadians.

Kathleen P. Barnes

Pedestrian safety is being ignored

Living in the heart of downtown Victoria by choice, and driving through the core on a regular basis, days and nights, I can't help but believe that the group running our city have seriously compromised the safety of pedestrians.

Given the knowledge that many walkers have chosen to place the importance of gazing at their cellphones over basic personal safety when crossing downtown streets, our city council has done nothing to make walking safer for all.

In its efforts to enhance the safety of those choosing to ride bicycles, council has ignored upgrading most crosswalks throughout the core. Few are controlled and many, most, are not illuminated. There will be sad consequences, unfortunately.

Steve Kishkan

Ethics and morals amid the climate crisis

Re: “Climate ideology trumping common sense,” Gwyn Morgan comment, Jan. 12.

Gwyn Morgan pleads for common sense, but dislikes and discredits the dispassionate, peer reviewed results and interpretation of thousands of climate scientists and those who support them. Rather than voicing common sense, he appears, either wittingly or unwittingly, to be speaking for the industrial interests that insist that the science is wrong. This is the very industry that, internationally, like tobacco before it, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and advertising to convince the populace of the entire planet that their product poses no threat to human and environmental health.

As the writer’s information says, Gwyn Morgan is a retired business leader who has been a director of five global corporations and was the founding CEO of Encana Corp. (think fossil fuels). He leaves us with suspicion that the problem lies with ethics and morals in the business world, not the climate science community.

Knowing what we now know about the climate crisis and the seriousness of the threat to society and our life support system on planet Earth, common sense tells us to pay attention to the science and take immediate action to deal with the consequences of continued increasing use of fossil fuels.

Barrie Webster

Not understanding the climate problem

Re: “Make 2020 a new year for climate action,” comment, Jan. 12.

Let’s hope David Suzuki is right and in the coming decade, “we finally take climate disruption seriously.” But he is wrong when he says: “We understand the problem and know how to deal with it.” He then goes on to list the same “solutions” that haven’t had any impact on fossil-fuel use in Canada.

It’s pointless to blame the fossil-fuel lobby when the failure of “renewables” to gain traction in the economy is more likely because they are not up to the job. As for taking climate disruption seriously, most of the world does not understand the problem or even that it is a problem.

Globally, consumer nations are mainly concerned with obtaining adequate and secure supplies of fossil fuels while producers are aggressively working to maintain or increase market share.

Peter Woodward

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