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The Cherryville Eagle

Houser Drug pharmacy staff stay vigilant during COVID pandemic

Some of the Houser Drug staff who, like their medical and pharmaceutical counterparts in Cherryville, Gaston County, and North Carolina, are all our Hometown “Heroes Who Work Here”. Working that day (June 25) left to right were: Sarah Gatza, Jill Parker-Puett, Pharmacist and store co-owner Tim Moss, Barry Heavner, and Dawson Long. (photo by MEP/The Eagle)

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(Ed. Note: This is Part Four of the Eagle’s “Heroes Work Here” series showcasing those in our small community who work hard to make all of us safer during the coronavirus pandemic.)

The staff and employees of Houser Drug have more than a passing interest in this 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
As health care workers, like doctors and nurses, they and other fellow pharmacists and pharmacy techs who live and work in Cherryville, are essential to their community as front-line troops in the fight against this insidious, seemingly hard-to-kill little pest that ruins lives physically and economically. Theirs is a constant vigilance against an unseen but deadly enemy.
Houser Drug has been a Cherryville business since 1935, said co-owner and Pharmacist Tim Moss. Moss has been a Pharmacist since 1988, with 28 of his professional years spent at Houser Drug. Tim said he believes the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worst viral epidemics the U.S., or the world, has faced in recent history.
“I feel the media has taken this (COVID-19) to a heightened level. We hate to see it come, and we weren’t prepared for it.”
Moss noted that he and his peers in the medical community see many immuno-compromised people, such as people who have diabetes, various types of cancer, high-blood pressure, stroke, or older patients on a daily basis. He said they see how these folks are having to deal with it so they try to do their part daily to help make things better for them, as well as for the employees of Houser Drug.
“We’ve been wiping down everything in the store daily. If one of our employees has a fever, we’ve told them to stay home,” he said. “In this business we’re at risk every day. My job is to deal with sick people every day, but I don’t think of myself as a hero. My reward is to see people healthy and whole.”
Moss said he and his employees treat their clients and customers like family, adding he doesn’t let money or profit-making drive his decisions, because, as he says, “I know what business we’re in – health care.”
Moss and his employees who have been with him a while are aware of what an epidemic looks and feels like as they have been through a number of them in the past.
Said Tim, “We’ve been in harm’s way before and we know God is watching out for us. The bottom line though is that I hope and pray it all works out and we can flatten the curve or get a vaccine soon. We want everybody to stay safe, but life has to resume at some point in time.”
Houser Drug employee Jill Parker-Puett knows their staff has gone the distance, and is practicing social distancing in their store.
“We have to protect ourselves while taking care of others. We know the masks (they have to wear) and hand washing are protecting us,” she said.
Parker-Puett, who has been with Houser Drug for 11 years, was an EMT for over 20 years, but nothing she has seen to date, she noted, “is equal to this (the pandemic).”
Said Parker-Puett, “Some folks don’t know they have it so it, so the masks and hand washing do help. Also, we’re testing a whole lot more than when this first started.
“Personally, I feel bad for those who have loved ones in a care facility or the hospital who lose or have lost loved ones and couldn’t be there with them in their hour of need.”
Parker-Puett noted she and the folks at Houser Drug, and all the other pharmacies and medical clinics, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and such are “uniquely poised to handle things like this.”
Sarah Gatza, who has been with Houser Drug for three years, has to be especially careful to not contract the virus as her husband Robert is a heart patient and is still under a physician’s care and watchful eye after a heart transplant at Duke. She believes that God healed her husband and made a way for him to have his new heart and they’re not taking that for granted, she said.
“I trust God to take care of me on a daily basis and to be smart, wash my hands, wear a mask, and do what I can to protect him and my family from this (COVID-19 virus). I feel everyone should do that as well, for yourselves, and for others too!”