Dennis Czerw is rolling up his sleeves and digging in amid mounds of paperwork, legal gymnastics and logistical challenges. Czerw, the owner of Parkway Pharmacy, held a COVID-19 vaccine drive last weekend, administering 1,800 “shots in arms” from Friday through Sunday. Czerw did it with his “one and a half employees and pulled it together by the skin of my teeth” after ordering nearly 2,400 (2,340, to be exact, of the Pfizer vaccine) vaccine doses and having them delivered in time for the weekend breakthrough.
“There isn’t a lot of guidance on the logistics of it,” Czerw said. “All of a sudden, 2,400 doses show up and it’s like, ‘Good luck, and make sure you follow the rules.’ Thankfully, we had volunteers, nurses and a lot of people who helped out and made this week. I probably had a dozen nurses help on their days off. I had two guys stand outside in the cold weather taking names and keeping the lines in order. I was so appreciative of how happy people were to help, because, frankly, in health care you don’t see that very often anymore. Everything is about how you get paid, how you monetize everything. Unfortunately, independent pharmacy has come to that because of what the big guys do to you."
“It was just nice to help people and to do it for free. It wasn’t about money. It was about helping. It’s a big deal. People were coming in crying and shaking. They couldn’t thank us enough. I’m proud of what we pulled off.”
A pharmacist for 13 years, Czerw re-opened Parkway Pharmacy in August of 2020 after the store had been closed since the end of 2019. Czerw ordered his doses on the previous Wednesday, received confirmation of the arrival of the doses two days later and had the doses delivered the following Tuesday. His biggest hurdle, after pulling off the hours-long vaccine distribution, is going through “mounds of paperwork” to prove that he did, in fact, distribute 1,800 doses so that he receives a follow-up dosage amount in three weeks to provide the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
“It’s my biggest hurdle to getting more because now I have to input 1,800 names and demographics and things like that,” Czerw said. “I’m trying to figure out the best way to do that quickly and efficiently. We have an army of volunteers willing to step up and help with that, but I just don’t know the best way to accomplish it. That’s one of my bigger complaints about the rollout. They drop these doses in the laps of small businesses and say, ‘Good luck. Figure it out.’ That makes it extremely difficult.”
Difficult, but not insurmountable. Czerw is just beginning his mission. He aims to provide the 1,800 second doses in a matter of a couple of weeks, and then move on to the next round of vaccinations. His goal is just to keep getting shots in arms. That’s the goal. That’s the mission. During last weekend’s event, Czerw was able to get his team over to the 2601 Parkway condominiums and provide 400 doses of the vaccine.
“I’ve been open for six months. I’ve got one and a half employees. We had the help of a lot of volunteers, without them this could not have been done,” Czerw. “This is not meant to be bragging in any way, because what matters is getting shots in the arms. We hope to hold more clinics in the coming weeks, and if you have questions about the second dose, we’re working on it. Call us with questions. It’s just a matter of helping out, and to see this all come together has just been so gratifying. It’s been a big deal to provide this.”