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New Kerr hybrid merges clinical, convenience

BY Jim Frederick

SANFORD, N.C. —Kerr Drug’s newest store prototype is one of the most unique formats in all of drug store retailing: a blend of leading-edge, pharmacy-based clinical-care concepts with a full-scale drug store and a company-owned café and coffee shop.

As such—and this comes as no surprise to the feisty North Carolina company’s many fans and observers—the new store marks another bold assertion by the industry’s leading clinical-care advocate of community pharmacy’s rightful place among the nation’s healthcare professionals. But it also marks something else: a hard-won acknowledgement by the 102-store chain of the stubborn long-term realities that still determine the drug store marketplace.

As Kerr chairman, president and chief executive Tony Civello acknowledged, broad selection, effective merchandising, competitive prices and shopping convenience still swing plenty of weight with consumers. And particularly for a pharmacy chain that has staked its future on the high-cost, risky frontier of pharmacy-based patient care, a healthy and well-stocked front end can still mean the difference between a daunting financial high-wire act and a profitable retail business.

Based on the enthusiastic response from local customers on opening day, Kerr ‘s new one-stop health and convenience strategy could be a winner.

At the ribbon cutting to mark the store’s grand opening Nov. 20, Civello and other Kerr leaders were buoyed by big opening-day crowds, who took advantage of a slew of free health screenings and other specials.

“We now have a choice of store prototypes we can use to fit the needs of any location,” said Bill Baxley, senior vice president of merchandising and marketing.

Kerr officials are calling the newest drug store and Community Healthcare Center a hybrid. At 16,000 square feet—the largest retail unit opened yet by the Raleigh, N.C.-based chain—the new store blends all the company’s retail concepts in health care, disease management, traditional drug store merchandising, convenience and even coffee shop retailing.

Located about 35 miles southwest of Kerr’s headquarters, the new store marks the expansion to a second location of the Kerr Community Health-care Center, which debuted two years ago in Lenoir, N.C. Fully half the store’s interior is devoted to expanded clinical pharmacy services, with separate offices for private one-on-one patient services, intervention and education performed by such health professionals as a physician’s assistant, clinical pharmacists, weight loss/ nutrition specialists, and respiratory therapists.

Kerr has allocated areas throughout the new center to cardiac and lung health, women’s care, advanced skin and foot care, breast-feeding support, and other specialty departments. A complete line of health screenings also will be available, including cholesterol, bone density, artery disease, glucose, respiratory, and blood pressure.

The hybrid also features a large-scale, mid-floor “Healthy Living” durable medical equipment section for patients needing walkers, hospital beds, mobility and safety equipment, and home healthcare items.

The front-end side of the store is there “to pay the bills,” but “our focus is on chronic disease management,” Civello said at the opening.

“The profession of pharmacy has to have a much bigger stake in the management of chronic disease. And how we get there has to be well thought out,” Civello told Drug Store News. He called the new hybrid store “another step to attracting patients with chronic disease.”

“It’s high-end, high-touch health care,” explained Mark Gregory, vice president of pharmacy and government relations.

The store requires a high level of staffing, both professional and otherwise. Among its 50 to 60 employees: a clinical pharmacy coordinator, a pharmacy resident from Campbell University’s school of pharmacy, a large complement of staff pharmacists and technicians, and a specialist in durable medical equipment to help patients with home-health care supplies and billing for Medicare Part B and private insurance.

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Stick Me Designs adds style to glucose meter bags

BY Michael Johnsen

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. Stick Me Designs, an emerging accessory designer of diabetes glucose carrying cases for women, teens and children, announced the launch of their glucose meter bag collection Friday.

“While the medical supply industry is busy working on adding color, convenience and function to their meters, they’ve forgotten the most important aspect of their portability—the carrying case,” stated Rickina Velte, founder of Stick Me Designs. “We’ve taken on the task of infusing design, style and function that adds personality to an everyday necessity for people with diabetes.”

The new diabetes bags offer choices in color, fabrics, design and functionality.

The first collection features four contemporary designs created for the One Touch Ultra glucose meter and other more traditional larger-style testing meters. The bags have elastic placeholders for lancet devices, testing strips and glucose tabs or candy. They also feature interior open and zippered pockets for such everyday essentials as credit cards, identification, money, sanitizing wipes and an outside zipper pocket for other essentials.

Stick Me Designs’ introductory collection also features hand-selected faux suedes, designer upholsteries and cotton fabrics in retro and contemporary styles and colors.

Suggested retail prices will range from $32.99 to $45.99, the company reported.

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Continucare opens first clinic at Navarro

BY Antoinette Alexander

MIAMI Continucare Corp. has announced the opening of its first ValuClinic in-store health clinic within a Navarro Discount Pharmacy in Hollywood, Fla.

Similar to many other retail-based clinic models, the walk-in clinic will treat acute conditions and will be staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

According to Gabe Navarro, chief executive officer of the Miami-based pharmacy chain, Continucare was on the verge of opening a few locations in the recently acquired Sedano’s stores, so Navarro proceeded with the openings.

In October, it was announced that Navarro Discount Pharmacy would merge its operations with Sedano’s Pharmacy & Discount Store. Sedano’s is a Hispanic drug retail company with 11 pharmacies in the southern Florida market. Combined, the entity has more than 30 stores with annual revenues of more than $350 million. All of the stores are operating under the Navarro banner in the southern Florida market.

According to Navarro, plans call for Continucare to have three ValuClinics open in Navarro stores by the end of the year. It expects to have a total of 15 clinics in operation in 2008.

In late 2006 it was announced that Navarro had partnered with Express Clinics to introduce in-store health clinics to the southern Florida market; however, it is possible that partnership will come to an end.

“It is uncertain whether Express Clinics will continue to operate clinics in our stores,” Navarro told Drug Store News. “[We] should know more in the coming weeks.”

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