Midwestern food and drug chain Hy-Vee plans to hire 1,000 pharmacy technicians across its market area as it works to expand coronavirus testing and prepare for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations.
West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee said Friday it aims to add both full- and part-time licensed pharmacy techs at its 270-plus pharmacies to bolster support for its pharmacists. The company noted that a resurgence in the incidence of COVID-19 in the United States — now with nearly 14.3 million confirmed cases and almost 278,000 deaths from the virus — is hiking the demands on health care professionals nationwide, including pharmacy staff.
“Right now, there is a critical need for trained pharmacy technicians who can help support our pharmacies and patients as we prepare for the next step in battling this virus,” according to Aaron Wiese, executive vice president of business innovation and chief health officer at Hy-Vee. “For technicians, this is a great opportunity for them to practice at the top of their license and work for a company that offers amazing benefits, competitive wages, flexible scheduling and job advancement opportunities.”
Hy-Vee said that, on Nov. 12, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) named the company as a national COVID-19 vaccine provider, once the immunizations are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and become available to the health care system. The retailer said its pharmacists and pharmacy techs are trained to administer vaccines and will provide patients access to COVID-19 vaccinations in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Demand remains high for Hy-Vee’s free COVID-19 drive-thru testing, offered in tandem with partner eTrueNorth, the retailer said. Hy-Vee launched coronavirus testing on a limited basis in August and then expanded coverage to over 150 locations in October. The rollout of test sites has continued, and Hy-Vee now offers the service at more than 180 locations.
Recently added COVID-19 test sites include Hy-Vee supermarket, drugstore, HealthMarket and clinic pharmacies in Ames, Bloomfield, Cedar Rapids (three locations), Fairfield, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ottumwa, Waterloo, Waukee and West Des Moines, Iowa; St. Charles and Stewartville, Minn.; and Maryville, Mo.
HHS is looking to pharmacy staff, among other health professionals, to help broaden access to countermeasures against COVID-19, including vaccines. Yesterday, the department amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to expand scope of health care providers who could administer COVID-19 and other vaccines by modifying and clarifying required training for pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians. The move was applauded by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS).
“NACDS had urged HHS to resolve inconsistencies between federal and state training requirements — inconsistencies that could stand in the way of patients’ access to vaccinations. This includes safe and effective COVID-19 vaccinations when they are available,” NACDS President and CEO Steve Anderson said in a statement. “On behalf of national and regional pharmacies that have worked hard to ensure preparedness to serve patients at this critical time — and the trained and professional pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns on the front lines — we appreciate HHS’ responsiveness in continuing to address policy barriers that could hamper the full response to the pandemic.”