CORBIN — A local pharmacy is the first pharmacy in Kentucky to offer point-of-care testing for flu and strep throat.

West Knox Pharmacy's owner and operator Jennifer Baker and pharmacist Sam Moore both took part in a training course in Atlanta, Georgia, to be able to offer the point-of-care testing at the pharmacy.

"We feel like it's a good service to provide to the community, to Corbin, Knox County, Laurel County, Whitley County. It is convenient for the patients," Baker said, noting the patients can come in without an appointment and have little or no wait time to be tested at West Knox Pharmacy for the flu or strep throat. "We will do a full assessment of them like they would get at a doctor's office basically."

The patients will have their throat swabbed if they think they have strep throat or their nose swabbed for flu testing. West Knox Pharmacy has a digital reader that will indicate whether it is a positive or negative test. Moore noted the machine increases the accuracy of the test over the tests that many doctor's offices use.

"If someone tests positive for strep or for the flu, then we can initiate treatment or therapy and we are able to do that by having a doctor sign off on our protocols which is James West from Knox County Hospital in Barbourville," Baker said.

The cost for the testing for strep throat or the flu is a flat rate of $19.95. The visit is not covered by insurance, but if a prescription is needed, the prescription can be covered by insurance.

Baker and Moore can also initiate prescriptions for family members of patients for prevention.

"It's a big part of prevention, it's a big part of helping the community to not have to go to the ER and sit and wait, go to the doctor and wait and wait," Baker said of why West Knox Pharmacy is offering the service.

"The main thing with us is we want to increase people's access," Moore added.

The Kentucky Board of Pharmacy recently changed the rules in the state to allow for pharmacists to check for certain illnesses like the flu or strep throat. The pharmacists who provide the service though have to go through a specific training, which that was the training Moore and Baker took in Atlanta, and follow a strict protocol.

"The protocol that we're using...it's a very strict set of guidelines," Moore said. "If a person shows up positive for strep, we have a list of medications that we can give and we also have the directions already laid out for us so there's not a lot of flexibility as far as the dosing and that type of thing, but it's the most common things that are used. And these are national guidelines that we go by."

The protocol is about four or five pages that designates whom the pharmacists can treat as well as how to test and what dosage of prescriptions they can give to people.

The change in the rules took effect in the spring allowing pharmacies in Kentucky to do more such as the point-of-care testing, smoking cessation counseling and more.

"It gives us a little bit more flexibility of what we can do with our patients," Moore said. "It's an expansion that pharmacists have never had in Kentucky."

"It takes a lot off of the general practitioner or the ER to where we can handle things like this that way they can focus on more serious patients," Baker added.

West Knox Pharmacy has been open for over two years.

The pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy and wellness center as well, as it offers several services beyond a typical pharmacy. The compounding center is where medications can be special made for customers and animals. Bio-Identical hormone replacements, medicated lollipops, and pain creams are made in the compound room. Home delivery, a drive-through window, medication packaging, educational consultations and seminars, immunizations, a large variety of vitamins and herbals, and essential oils are all features of the pharmacy.

It is located at 14161 US 25 East, Corbin.

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