One day earlier this year, a woman visited the pharmacy at the Safeway store in Washougal with a major problem. She had been trying to get a prescription filled for her daughter’s medication but was running into some issues with her insurance company, which initially denied her request to fully cover the cost.
Delaney Santon, the pharmacy technician on staff that day, called the insurance company, resolute in her determination to not hang up until she received the answer that she wanted to hear.
“(The mother) had done everything right,” Santon said. “She was calling the doctor’s office, she was calling the insurance company, she was calling us. Everybody was doing everything they could to get this prescription covered because she couldn’t even afford a $10 copay; she needed it to be fully covered. I sat on the phone for an hour-and-a-half, being bounced from different departments in the insurance company. I finally got it covered and was able to call the mom and say, ‘You don’t have to worry anymore. It’s completely covered. Come pick up her prescription.'”
Santon didn’t absolutely have to make that call, but in her mind, it was just the right thing to do. Those types of actions have become routine for Santon, who was recently named by SingleCare, a New York-based free prescription savings service, as “Best Pharmacy Technician” as part of its 2022 Best of the Best Pharmacy Awards, which honor pharmacy staff members who “go above and beyond” and “provide exceptional service, education, and savings,” according to SingleCare’s website.
“Delaney is passionate about her customers and her pharmacy team, (and) always has their best interests at heart,” according to a news release issued by SingleCare. “She’s dedicated to making sure her patients can afford their medications and don’t have to choose between other life essentials.”
Santon was nominated for the award by her co-workers, who praised her willingness to train new staff and work extended, early-morning, late-night and weekend shifts.
“I was completely shocked (when I heard that I won the award),” Santon said. “(A SingleCare representative) called me while I was at work in the middle of a really busy day, and I was just trying to process that somebody would actually nominate me for ‘the best of the best.’ It was a great surprise. It’s extremely exciting to be compared to (other) great technicians, and it really makes me want to continue my career in the pharmacy.”
Santon has worked as a pharmacy technician for seven years, starting out at the Pacific Northwest Specialty Pharmacy in Vancouver before moving to the Camas Safeway, then the Washougal Safeway, where she’s been since 2021.
“Right after high school, I wasn’t sure what to do,” she said. “My friend’s mom is a pharmacy technician in our area, and she was telling me about her job, and I thought it would just be a good way of getting introduced into the medical field to see if it was something that I was interested in pursuing. I’ve really grown to enjoy the whole medical field, but pharmacy in particular.”
Santon grew up in the Camas-Washougal area, graduated from Camas High School, and has known many of her customers for many years.
“The No. 1 thing (that I love about my job) is serving the community that I’ve grown up with and being able to offer education and discounted prices,” she said. “It’s been an eye-opening experience and very rewarding. You also get to know your community a lot more and get to know your customers through serving them every day and talking to them every day. I think the customer interaction is my favorite part, (as well as) interacting with all of the medical professionals.”
Santon believes that a good pharmacist has to possess critical-thinking skills, empathy, and creative problem-solving abilities, as well as be willing to learn on-the-job and always, always have a ‘Plan B’ — and sometimes even a ‘Plan C’ — in mind.
“A lot of times, we see people at their worst,” she said. “They’ve just gone to the doctor and they’ve gotten news that they don’t know how to process. They come to us and they’re already upset, and if we have any kind of a hiccup with their prescription, it really can spiral fast. I think that’s the most challenging part — acknowledging that people are in a bad place a lot of times when they come to us. Being able to offer them support and understanding and giving them a little bit of peace of mind when they come to talk to us (is crucial). It’s challenging to know what to say to them a lot of times, but it’s also very rewarding.”
Santon regularly scans drug discount cards to make sure patients are receiving the lowest possible price on their prescriptions.
“With everything that has happened with COVID, a lot of people have a lot of uncertainty in their lives,” she said. “So when they come to the pharmacy and we tell them, ‘I’m sorry, your prescription isn’t covered,’ they’re instantly expecting the worst case possible. I try to have a solution ready for them when they are at the pharmacy. (I can say), ‘I know that this isn’t covered, but I have a discount card that I can put it under,’ or ‘I will call your doctor’s office and find a prescription that either is covered or is reasonably priced.’