Alexis Paxson – Unsung Hero

Alexis Paxson, a pharmacist for CVS in Inwood, is being recognized as an Unsung Hero by the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) for her work during the pandemic.

After graduating from Musselman High School, Alexis went on to attend Shenandoah University in Virginia where she earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and continued until she completed her Doctor of Pharmacy in 2019.

Alexis is a former DRS consumer. As a child, she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a disorder which causes curvature of the spine. Alexis had to wear a back brace when she was young to keep her spine as straight as possible while she was growing. Her scoliosis continues to cause her pain and fatigue, especially if she sits or stands for too long at a time.

As a pharmacist, Alexis must stand for extended periods during her workday. She has a stool that she can use when she needs to take a break from being on her feet for too long at one time.

Alexis started out at Walgreens Pharmacy after graduating and she worked there for about a year before obtaining employment with CVS.

In her role as a pharmacist, her top job responsibility is to ensure patient safety. She reviews prescriptions issued by doctors and checks them for accuracy after they are filled by her pharmacy technicians. She also gives flu shots and other vaccinations, works with insurance companies on billing prescriptions and fields numerous questions from concerned customers.

The onset of the pandemic, however, caused significant changes at her job. Most of the changes occurred in phases because of the unprecedented circumstances, as well as the lack of knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 when it began.

In the beginning, they started wearing face masks and implemented more detailed cleaning procedures. Alexis works and lives in West Virginia's eastern panhandle, which quickly became one of the big hotspot areas in the state. The pandemic really started hitting home for Alexis when customers began coming in and telling her they were picking up prescriptions for a family member or friend that was sick with COVID-19.

With customers' increasing concerns over exposure to the virus, Alexis explained that their drive-through window swiftly became busier than their in-store pharmacy counter. They also began using a third-party service to deliver prescriptions. Of course, these changes often led to increased tension and frustration from their customers who had to wait in long lines to pick up their prescription or would call and complain because their delivery did not arrive when they expected.

Additionally, Alexis had to stay abreast of changes that were being made, due to the pandemic, by the Board of Pharmacy relating to dispensing certain medications, as well as policy and benefit changes from insurance companies.

The pandemic has increased her workload and caused additional stress for her and other pharmacy employees. Alexis describes pharmacists as the most accessible healthcare professionals. The threat of COVID-19 has not stopped her from helping patients and customers on a one-on-one basis when they need assistance.

DRS Rehabilitation Counselor Ann Ramos nominated Alexis for recognition as an Unsung Hero because of her dedication to her field during these extraordinary conditions. According to Ramos, Alexis has a "serving heart and a giving personality" and she does not let concerns for herself interfere with her responsibilities to her customers.

At work, Alexis takes the protective precautions very seriously because she does not want to risk carrying the virus home to her family. Spending time with them and her dog and cat, as well as treating herself to little rewards – a milkshake or takeout for dinner – helps her to deal with the stress of the situation.

Alexis believes that you must look for the good in every circumstance and her goal is to treat people as she would like to be treated. While she does have to deal with demanding and frustrated customers, there are just as many who are positive and show their appreciation for the work she does, and Alexis is grateful for them.

As for being distinguished as an Unsung Hero, Alexis is humbled and appreciative of the recognition.