Chichi Ilonzo Momah, a Black female COO and pharmacist-in-charge at Springfield Pharmacy, has been on the frontlines amid COVID-19 for a long time. Now, she is now one of the first independent community pharmacists in the area to be vaccinating older adults.
“It’s very scary because there’s a lot of uncertainties. So, every day is a new adventure,” Momah said. “That’s what we call it in the store. It’s always an adventure.”
Last week, Momah started vaccinating those age 75 and older. Springfield Pharmacy, located at 1154 Baltimore Pike in Springfield, gets in a limited supply of the COVID vaccine from the government.
“We’re grateful that we’re getting supplies, but we are getting very limited supplies. They are giving us about 100 doses a week and it’s not enough,” she said.
Momah said she has a waiting list of more than 3,000 names. The incoming phone calls about the vaccine, especially last week, were very overwhelming for her. She said Springfield Pharmacy created a Google form and put that link on its website. Through word of mouth, the vaccine waiting list has grown significantly.
The online form helped her team by decreasing phone calls and decreasing the time staff spent on the phone answering inquiries. Instead of staff writing patient names down or typing them into a list, staff directs patients to their website so they can input their information in there.
Momah hired an additional staff member to help manage the appointments because there were so many.
Her advice for seniors who are frustrated they’re not getting their vaccinations yet? Find an independent pharmacy. “They’re more easily accessible, and there’s not corporate over them so what they’re telling you is the truth. Find a local independent pharmacy and get on their list,” she said.
AmerisourceBergen and Good Neighbor Pharmacy issued a statement on the federal retail pharmacy program. It is important for patients seeking the vaccine to understand local jurisdiction and register in their county.
Momah, who graduated from Temple University School of Pharmacy in 2006, said it is a blessing to work with city residents. Springfield Pharmacy is 10 minutes on the outskirts of the city, but most of her patients live in Philadelphia.
She must advocate for her patients because some of them are not educated. Some of them are ignorant and do not know what to do.
Momah has patients who listen to the news, get scared and do not want to get the vaccine. She also has patients who do not want to listen to the news at all and don’t know a vaccine is available.
“We’re always having to educate our patients, advocate for our patients, and look out for them because nobody would, and it’s just sad. I have people calling me to put their Grandpa’s name on the list or put their mother’s name on the list,” she said. “Meanwhile, I have patients in my database who are not even asking me if I have the vaccine or not, and they qualify; the reason being because they don’t know better. But it is our job to help them stay current, help them get on that list and help them get the vaccine because they need it.”
Momah said the vaccine keeps you safe and will save your life.
“You do not want to get the virus itself because a lot of people have died from the virus. You don’t know how it’s going to affect your body because everybody’s system is different,” she said. “Getting the vaccine will keep you safe and keep you alive.”
She said be patient with trying to get the vaccine and getting on a list because there are limited doses.
“I know the government is working hard to help with the distribution but be patient; it will come,” Momah said.
Momah urges people to take precautions and stay in their houses since many people are still dying from the coronavirus.