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Former Rite Aid executive shifts to Westlake Hardware

BY Drug Store News Team

LENEXA, Kan. Westlake Hardware recently named Rob Easley to the newly created position of chief operating officer.

Easley will be responsible for the operations of the company’s 89 retail locations, as well as marketing functions, field human resources and talent development. He will report directly to company president and CEO George Smith.

“A solid management team is critical to executing our business strategy, and [Easley] brings to Westlake a wealth of experience in operations, marketing, change management and process improvement,” said Smith. “We are fortunate to have someone of [Easley’s] caliber join our team at Westlake Hardware.”

Previously, Easley served as COO of Rite Aid, and held several senior level operations positions with San Antonio-based grocery chain H.E.B.

Westlake Ace Hardware is the largest retail chain within the Ace Hardware system, with $250 million in sales last year. They were recently ranked 45th on Home Channel News’ Top 500 Scoreboard of home channel retailers (Home Channel News is a sister publication of Drug Store News).

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Winn-Dixie to offer health insurance to Florida customers

BY Allison Cerra

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A Florida-based grocer has partnered with the local Blue Cross Blue Shield to offer its customers health cards.

Winn-Dixie said Wednesday it will offer the program in all 353 of its Florida Winn-Dixie and Save-Rite locations. The program consists of two options: the $59 Gift of Health Care card and $19 FamilyBlue discount card.

The $59 Gift of Health Care card offers a convenient way to buy affordable health insurance. The $59 is applied accordingly to the plan the customer selects during the activation call. The $19 FamilyBlue discount card provides an entire family with discounts on dental, pharmacy and vision care for three months. The FamilyBlue card can pay for itself in just one visit to a provider.

“We are very excited about our partnership with BCBSF and about their Health Card program,” said Mary Kellmanson, Winn-Dixie group VP marketing. “The current economic downturn has left many people without access to healthcare benefits for themselves and their families. This program offers an affordable solution to that critical issue.”

Shoppers will find these cards on a permanent freestanding display unit located in the pharmacy area, and in the cold and flu aisle in stores that do not have a pharmacy. After customers have paid for their card, they can call a BCBSF 1-800 number located on the back of the card to activate it as well as receive their personalized member ID card to take to the doctor.

“Our goal is simple – to provide Floridians with easy access to the healthcare system,” said Craig Thomas, BCBSF VP and chief marketing officer. “This is a completely unique concept for the healthcare industry that allows us to reach a broader audience of uninsured and underinsured who would normally go to their local store to purchase pre-paid and gift cards. Winn-Dixie’s role as the first Florida grocer to carry these cards is a clearly demonstrates their commitment to the health and well being of the communities they serve.”

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Renewed lease spells renewed commitment for Accredo, Memphis community

BY Rob Eder

MEMPHIS, Tenn. Accredo Health has renewed the lease on its 240,000-sq.-ft. Century Center headquarters, the company announced last week. The 10-year leasing agreement for Accredo’s five-building campus is effective Jan. 1, 2010.

With staff expansions and the company’s work at home programs, Accredo’s total employment in the Memphis area now stands at approximately 1,750, and the space at Century Center, still leaves Accredo—Medco’s specialty pharmacy division—with plenty which was a factor in Accredo’s decision to renew, the company stated. Accredo occupies roughly 40% of the Century Center campus.

As part of the renewal, Accredo will create a new corporate headquarters and visitor center, as well as improve and expand employee amenities and parking in the campus. Accredo’s Proherant Health Inc. business unit, which provides patient education, clinical research and other services for biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, will be shifted to Goodlett Farms Parkway in Cordova, Tenn. The standalone location was chosen to build and grow the Proherant Health business, according to Accredo.

“Accredo has been an important driver of Medco’s growth. We recognize and appreciate the talent and efforts of our employees in our Memphis headquarters who have contributed to Accredo’s extraordinary success. Our renewed commitment to the Memphis community reflects our belief that local talent and expertise will continue to fuel Accredo’s future growth,” said Steve Fitzpatrick, president, Accredo.

Fitzpatrick added that the new facility not only is an upgrade for its associates as well as the clients that visit the company, it also will enhance “Accredo’s ability to serve the needs of our patients.”

“We pride ourselves on the ‘high-touch’ quality of care for patients and our employees are at the heart of delivering that care, The pharmacy schools and universities in the Memphis area have helped train and develop the talent and leadership necessary for our company to grow to its current heights, Fitzpatrick said.

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