Watson has been with the Dayton VA for nine years, working with Walgreens Infusion Services before that.
She has always felt drawn to pharmaceutical and health care work, she said.
“I have always enjoyed working with patients,” Watson told the Dayton Daily News. “It’s really my passion.”
Physician and nurses remain the front-line workers in the battle against COVID-19. But pharmacists are there, as well, with a key role in dispensing medication and, perhaps soon, helping to dispense vaccines for COVID.
“We’re here to support the physicians and the nurses,” Watson said. “Providing patients with their medication is such a critical part of health care, and I really, really enjoy that.”
Putting veterans first, day in and day out
“She always puts veterans first and takes on their issues,” Wootton said.
A visit to a local pharmacy confirms how busy pharmacists can be, and the Dayton VA is no different. The outpatient pharmacy at the VA fills 800 prescriptions, processes another 1,000 scripts for mail, and sees about 250 veterans daily in pharmacy booths where face-to-face interaction is possible, Wootton said.
“That’s about a typical day,” Watson said.
Disruptions in prescription service might have been expected when the pandemic started. Veterans who experienced symptoms were initially not allowed into the VA campus facility, and many were frightened away and simply did not come in, as Wootton described the situation in the pandemic’s early days.
The number of veterans coming into the pharmacy quickly dropped, and the VA pharmacy — like pharmacies everywhere — was forced to adapt.
Watson and her staff worked with the VA’s Pharmacy Contact Center to ensure veterans could get prescriptions via UPS next-day delivery.
Watson closed the pharmacy booths and moved operations to dispensing windows. In time, she coordinated with engineering staff and had plexiglass barriers installed into the booths.
According to her colleagues, she created a streamlined process for patients who were deemed COVID-positive or suspected positive, arranging it so that prescriptions could be filled in advance and delivered to patients waiting in primary care, so ill veterans would not have to walk throughout a large facility.
And a curbside prescription delivery service has started.
Watson stressed that it was all a team effort, and she’s the first to credit her colleagues.
Said Watson: “We implemented so many changes, I feel like I’m just a mere representation of the entire group.”
Wootton believes she is more.
“Where Taneesha really shines is her calm influence on her staff, in the face of many unknowns and frank fears,” he said. “The ability to improvise and make changes very quickly is inherent to a pharmacy leader. Taneesha does this each and every day.”
Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of people who have persevered and inspired others during this challenging year. Read all the stories at DaytonDailyNews.com/inspire-dayton. Tell us who inspired you in 2020 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.