Pharmacist donates more than 10 gallons of homemade hand sanitizer to SEK first responders

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BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. — For Wolkar Drug owner Brian Caswell, putting patients first has always been the top priority. 

So, when coronavirus scares made their way closer to home, the decision to close off the front end of the Baxter Springs store to protect both patients and staff did not come easy. But, Caswell says that the pharmacy is staying busy with other means of staying connected with patients.

“Our drive-thru has had lines that wrapped around to the front of the building, plus we’ve been mailing out dozens prescriptions to patients in our area like I’ve never seen before,” Caswell explained. 

Roughly 40% of pharmacy patients fall under the 65+ age range, so Wolkar Drug has also taken steps to ensure homebound patients are taken care of when they need it most.

Currently, more than 25 deliveries are made on the daily, but Casswell anticipates that to more than double in the upcoming weeks and months. 

“We recently bought a brand new delivery car to help meet the needs of our patients and ensure that they don’t leave home if they aren’t comfortable with it,” Caswell added. “We will come to them instead.”

Deliveries are made for prescription drug orders, but as the over-the-counter section of the pharmacy has been closed off, staff are working to get OTC items out to patients as well. Caswell says that an increased social media presence will help them get the word out on products and specials offered. 

Pharmacy staff know that for Southeast Kansas, it’s about so much more than medicine. Operations may have shifted, but there’s no question that Wolkar Drug is working to meet patients’ needs from insulin, to ibuprofen and thermometers, and now, homemade hand sanitizer. 

“Our shelves were cleared in less than an hour of stocking them full,” Casswell continued. “But in the end, we still have a need to meet.”

The FDA released two recipes for homemade hand sanitizer (differing with the type of alcohol used), giving community pharmacies the green light to manufacture their own product. 

Jayhawk Fine Chemicals in Galena donated 55 gallons of rubbing alcohol to Caswell stores in Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri.

Since then, Wolkar Drug has manufactured more than 30 gallons of hand sanitizer for the Baxter Springs, Galena, Oswego, and Riverton communities. 

Some of the product has been sold to customers, but a good portion has been donated to area first responders.

Chief Russ Harper with Baxter Springs PD says this time of year generates more calls, officers come into contact with countless numbers of people on any given day. Hand washing isn’t always available to officers, so they rely heavily on hand sanitizer to stay healthy. 

He adds that it’s nice knowing that the community is taking care of their force so the force can take care of them. 

“He’s a great leader in his community and takes care of all of us,” explained Chief Harper.

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