Filling local health needs with compounding, infusion
Marble City Health Mart Pharmacy co-owner Jared Johnson advises a patient.
Marble City Health Mart Pharmacy owners have secured a place in the life of the community by offering deeply personal care and a broad menu of vital health services.
Those efforts won Marble City Health Mart McKesson Corp.’s 2015 Pharmacy of the Year. Marble City Health Mart has tapped a deeply rooted local need for health services and personal care that goes beyond traditional pharmacy dispensing and counseling.
The pharmacy staff holds diabetes education classes and conducts a diabetes fair twice a year. Pharmacists also regularly visit senior citizen facilities and low-income housing units and conduct community outreach and health presentations. “When you are out in the community, you gain the confidence of potential customers,” said co-owner Jared Johnson.
The owners’ commitment to personalized service goes beyond lip service. The Johnsons rotate carrying a store mobile phone so they are always available to their customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Among other capabilities, Marble City Pharmacy specializes in pharmaceutical compounding. “When commercially available products are not available, we work with [a patient’s] physician to find alternate therapies,” Marble City’s owners reported. “We have the proper equipment to make most types of non-sterile compounds. We also bill most insurance [companies].”
Marble City also partners with the insurance program for state and local government employees to provide biometric health screenings, which can save government employees $25 a month in insurance costs.
In 2014, the owners launched Marble City Vital Care, a home infusion and therapy service and supply business. Previously, patients and their caregivers had to drive nearly 50 miles to Birmingham, Ala., for those services.
“Access to those services and supplies increased patient adherence and reduced the rate of avoidable readmissions to local hospitals,” the Johnsons said. “A coincidental yet welcome business benefit has been an increase in the number of traditional prescriptions filled from new patients cared for by physicians new to the pharmacy because of Marble City Vital Care.”
To keep physicians informed of developments in new generic drugs or changes in medication regulations, the Johnsons also send a “fax blast” to more than three dozen local physicians, and provide continuing education classes for doctors and nurses.
‘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.