Tulare County group uses teen girls to rate local pharmacies
Twenty-two local pharmacies are getting report cards this week from the Female Leadership Academy after the Tulare County nonprofit sent in undercover teenage girls to grade the businesses.
The businesses were scored on different points, including friendliness to teenagers, availability of emergency contraceptives and the reproductive health information available to teen customers.
The Female Leadership Academy, a program under ACT for Women and Girls, started the project a year ago after referring teenagers to pharmacies for information or emergency contraceptives and the girls called back to say that they weren't available, said Sarah Marquez, peer program advocate for ACT.
"That opened our eyes and we realized we couldn't refer them to a pharmacy that we didn't know," she said.
So the organization set about getting to know local pharmacies. First, it conducted a one-on-one survey with the pharmacist to ask questions about what is available there. Then one of the Female Leadership Academy class members posed undercover to shop the pharmacy and grade it, Marquez said. Pharmacies could opt out of the survey process.
Many of the 22 pharmacies scored with A's and B's, although three automatically failed for not providing emergency contraception at all: South Court Pharmacy at 1620 S. Court St. in Visalia, Tulare's Pharmacy at 906 N. Cherry St., and Womack's Sierra Vista Pharmacy, 650 E. Visalia Road, Farmersville.
When asked why South Court Pharmacy does not carry emergency contraceptives, the pharmacist there — who declined to give his name — said it is because he doesn't get many requests for it.
On the other hand, Pillbox Pharmacy in Visalia got an A-minus for its friendliness, available resources and openness to teenagers.
"[Teenagers] do get education from school, but we are also a resource," said Dr. Xeng Yang, the pharmacist there. "We're pretty open to the community, and anyone can come here and ask questions." Marquez said another purpose of the project was to make teenagers aware that pharmacies can be a place where they can ask questions about contraceptives and reproductive health.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 22:52
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