‘Best Practice’ winners set mark for innovation
Above: Cardinal Health recognized winners of the annual Independent Pharmacy Best Practices during the opening session of this year's Retail Business Conference in Las Vegas.
Right: Mike Bellesine
New patient-care and business solutions won three independent pharmacies special recognition at Cardinal Health’s annual Retail Business Conference in Las Vegas in July.
Named best practices winner in the Wellness Advantage category was the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Whiting, N.J. The award went to owner Al Patel in part for creation of Discharge Rx Care, which helps transition patients from the nursing home to their own home.
Discharge Rx Care begins at the nursing home, where the pharmacy works with staff to prepare a patient’s medications prior to discharge. To improve long-term adherence rates among homebound patients, the pharmacy prepares unit-dose packs for morning, noon evening and bedtime. On the day the patient is discharged, a pharmacist visits the patient at home to deliver the meds and perform medication reconciliation.
Seattle-based Katterman’s Pharmacy won recognition in the Retail Advantage segment for “front-end solutions that help maximize profitability, while enhancing the customer experience,” Cardinal reported. Pharmacists and co-owners Beverly Schaefer and Steve Cone say they’re on a quest to reinvent their business every three years.
Among its many innovations, Katterman’s has remade itself as a destination for travelers by offering last-minute, travel-related vaccinations and an extensive line of easy-to-pack personal necessities. A Katterman’s travel vaccination customer spends an average of $300 for goods and services, and vaccines are usually administered for two or more travelers at a time.
Drive-through pharmacies were installed to make it easier for customers to drop off or pick up prescriptions. But pharmacist Mike Bellesine, owner of El Dorado TrueCare Pharmacy in Eldorado, Kan., realized his pharmacy’s drive-up window service was causing patients more pain than convenience.
Bellesine knew he often had a long line waiting for drive-through service at TrueCare, which can fill more than 900 prescriptions on busy days. His solution: a restaurant-style pager system. Bellesine said the pager system has made TrueCare the fastest and most efficient drive-up window in town. And the number of drive-through register transactions has jumped from an average of 50 per day to more than 120 per day.
Supporting communities through the pharmacy
Clockwise: Kalpna Patel, Jane Angel, Mark Butera, Leslie Knauer
The efforts of four individuals underscore how Ahold approaches community pharmacy, showing that the company’s pharmacists are willing to do what it takes to help people stay healthy.
Jane Angel, a pharmacist at Ahold’s Stop & Shop store in Hicksville, N.Y., is a certified diabetes educator who conducts in-store diabetes management classes and regularly consults with diabetic patients when they pick up their prescriptions.
In addition, she has been a longtime proponent of medication therapy management, having received her MTM certification from the American Pharmacists Association in 2010. Since then, Angel has been doing MTM consultations in her store and remotely for other Stop & Shop pharmacies in Connecticut and New York.
“Jane is fully committed to her patients, and it shows! Her enthusiasm and effort set her apart. We’re so proud to have Jane as a part of our team,” VP pharmacy Brad Dayton said.
Meanwhile, Kalpna Patel, a pharmacist at the Giant store in Gaithersburg, Md., who also has diabetes certification, is referred to by Dayton as “one of our shining stars of patient care and customer service.”
A prime example of this, he said, is her work with a local nursing home in which her pharmacy fills and delivers prescriptions to patients and does periodic “brown bag” medication reviews for the residents.
In addition, Patel is part of the Maryland Department of Health’s Disaster Relief Team, providing mobile pharmacy services in an emergency; is a preceptor at the University of Maryland and Howard University; and talks to middle and high school students interested in a pharmacy career.
“Kalpna embodies everything a pharmacist should be,” Dayton said. “She is committed to her patients, her students and her profession.”
Another Giant pharmacist — Leslie Knauer of Hellertown, Pa. — is described as being passionate about patient care. She has earned certifications in patient-centered diabetes care and anticoagulation, and regularly hosts in-store classes on diabetes, talks extensively with patients about their conditions and, for the past few years, has assembled and distributed gift bags to her diabetic patients during American Diabetes Month.
Recently, Knauer began offering free glucose, blood-pressure and cholesterol screenings, as well as free vaccination reviews.
“Leslie is one of our most passionate pharmacists, and it shows in her approach to patient care,” Dayton said. “She is proof that pharmacists can do much more than just dispense prescriptions.”
That same willingness to go the extra mile can be found in Mark Butera, pharmacy manager at the Stop & Shop in Westfield, Mass.
“What sets Mark apart is his commitment to the community,” Dayton said, focusing on Butera’s passion for educating and helping children and students.
For example, he said, Butera created a “Be a Hero” program in which he teaches preschoolers how to use an Epi-Pen and inhaler, and how to recognize symptoms of low blood sugar.
At the grade and middle school levels, he has participated in numerous career days, letting students experience a pharmacist’s duties by crushing chalk in a mortar and pestle and mixing creams and ointments. For high school students, Butera has served as a career mentor, bringing students into his pharmacy to observe his day-to-day activities.
At the college level, he is a preceptor for the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
H-E-B’s Lehew, Stehling ‘do whatever it takes’
Tom Stehling and Derek Lehew
While pharmacists across the country have forged close relationships with their patients, providing them with top-notch care and a wide array of services, few have gone to such lengths as a pair of pharmacists working for the H-E-B grocery chain in Texas have.
The two pharmacists — Derek Lehew, the pharmacy manager at H-E-B’s store in Waxahachie, and Tom Stehling, a staff pharmacist at an outlet in San Antonio — have been repeatedly praised for their willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure patients get the best care.
“He is our favorite H-E-B employee because he went over and above the call of duty — a great example of the high standards H-E-B employs,” a pharmacy patient said about how Lehew reacted to her forgetting to pick up a prescription she needed to take prior to having surgery.
“We had been with family celebrating our nephew’s return from Iraq,” the woman said in her letter to the company. “I was scheduled to have surgery first thing the next morning. Two days before, I had turned in a prescription for a medication I was to take before leaving for the hospital. On our way home from the party, I remembered I hadn’t pick it up. We explained our situation to the store manager, but he wasn’t authorized to handle pharmacy matters, but agreed to call Derek at home.”
Lehew, who lives 15 miles away, was spending a quiet evening with his family. But knowing how crucial it was that the patient take her medication prior to her surgery, he jumped in the car and was at the store in about 20 minutes to retrieve the prescription.
H-E-B executives say the letter commending Lehew was one in a long line of praises from customers. Whether it’s coming in after hours or taking the time to thoroughly discuss a child’s diabetes with his or her parents, Lehew’s patients are appreciative of his diligence and the level of caring he shows for their well-being.
“Derek gets frequent great comments from his customers,” SVP pharmacy Craig Norman said. “He really treats everyone as family each and every day.”
Meanwhile, H-E-B customers have cited Stehling for his attention to detail and helping patients get the care they need.
Stehling’s pharmacy manager received a phone call from a patient who told him Stehling had literally saved his life after he told the pharmacist that he was feeling under the weather.
“Tom recommended that one of our screeners do a blood-glucose test,” Norman explained, noting that the screening showed his glucose levels were extremely high. “Tom instructed him to go straight to the emergency room and to receive further care.”
After a week in the hospital, the patient was released and grateful to Stehling for his efforts.
“He wanted to talk to Tom’s supervisor and said he would be happy to tell anyone what Tom did,” Norman said. “He felt Tom went over and above, and that he saved his life.”