by Linda Yacks
According to an email that I received from En-Vision America, October is Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind month. It has been announced that En-Vision and Walmart have formed a partnership to provide ScripTalk prescription labels at any Walmart upon request. I am so excited about this opportunity and decided to share my story with you.
When I was a member in Michigan, I served on the Accessible Prescription Labels committee. We researched several options and advocated for audible labels. Since I had those research results, I was armed with information to start my quest after we relocated to Arkansas in 2015. My husband and I needed to live close to our son due to my hubby’s health needs. After we settled in, I began looking for accessible labels here. Seemed like I wasn’t going to have very good luck. After speaking with several pharmacies in the area, I decided that ScripTalk was my best bet. I contacted my local Walmart and asked to speak to the pharmacy manager. After some conversation, he researched Walmart’s policy and called me back in the next 24 hours. He was so excited and asked me to contact En-Vision to order my ScripTalk Station. En-Vision America was so responsive. They sent my Station out in a couple of days, and the pharmacy manager called me to say that he would be ready to label my medications within a week or so. At that time, I was responsible for managing 13 medications for my husband and five for me. Several of the pills felt just alike, creating an unsafe situation. It was necessary for me to ask my family to sort our meds each week. If they were unavailable, I had to ask someone else to come to help. That is why it was so important to me to exercise my need for independence and follow through with Walmart. What a relief when my medications came with labels in place!
It was not always smooth sailing, and I have learned a few tips I wish to share with you for your journey. I think you may find these helpful when working with any pharmacy. First, when you call for a refill, or your doctor orders a medication, remind the pharmacy to put on the labels. Second, to save a trip, call to make sure your prescriptions are ready and have been labeled prior to going to pick them up. If they are not labeled (make sure they check every bottle), call again before you or someone makes the trip. Finally, make sure that you or the person who is picking up the meds checks all bottles before leaving the counter. This is a new process for the pharmacies, and may take some patience on our part. However, after a while, the staff will remember, and the service will become more consistent.
Now, I want to challenge you. If I were not a member of ACB, I don’t think I would know about accessible labels. Many blind folks I share the information with are shocked and their first response is frequently, “We don’t have that here.” If they have a Walmart, they should be able to get the labels. Of course, not all medical insurances have Walmart on their approved pharmacy list. Call En-Vision America at 1-800-893-1180 and ask them to assist you. The staff will help you research the options in your area.
I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. When we advocate for something like safety in prescription labels and then don’t ask for it, the world doesn’t believe we need it. I suggest to you that even if you only take one medication, you should be on a program. What happens when you are ill, have new meds, and need to independently read the labels in order to follow the directions in a safe and educated manner?
I am excited for the independence that taking control of our own medications will provide. I wish you all happy results in your pursuit of accessible drug labels. I am so grateful to those who have worked on this project. Let’s get the word out!