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.”
Sam’s Club’s Caven merges passion for people, pharmacy
Sam’s Club pharmacy manager Sarah Caven loves people, and it shows in how she treats the patients at the company’s warehouse club in Mankato, Minn.
“I know it’s a cliché, but I’m a people person,” she said recently. “I love the opportunity to talk to the patient. I see them a lot more than they see their physician, and I know that their contact with me is important for them.”
As manager of the Sam’s Club pharmacy in Mankato, Minn., for the past two and a half years, the 35-year-old Caven oversees a staff that includes herself, another full-time pharmacist and a pair of pharmacy technicians. In addition, she is the company’s pharmacy area manager for Minnesota — overseeing 14 stores in the state — and teaches and trains new Sam’s Club pharmacists in the area. She also is a certified diabetes educator and often works closely with a range of community groups on health fairs and immunization clinics.
“I have a passion for pharmacy,” Caven said. “Since I joined Sam’s Club, I have tried to take that passion and put it into everything I do.”
The most visible evidence of that effort can be seen in the relationship she has developed with her patients. Shoppers in and around Mankato, a city of 41,000 people about 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis, have a wide range of pharmacy options. However, many of those who use the Sam’s Club pharmacy have told Caven that they choose to get their prescriptions filled there because of her presence behind the pharmacy counter.
“I really take the time to get to know them and let them know I care about them,” she said. “I try to find the one thing that sets them apart and makes them special.”
Caven’s highly personalized approach to pharmacy seems to be paying off. While the Sam’s Club in Mankato has existed for 21 years, its pharmacy is only a little over two years old. As a result, the pharmacy is continuing to build its clientele and is one of Sam’s Clubs’ lower-volume prescription operations, filling between 300 and 350 scripts a week.
Still, Caven said that volume is steadily growing — 20% in just the past year — and she expects the growth to continue.
Because her job often takes her away from her club for extended periods, Caven is quick to credit her pharmacy team for the success the Mankato Sam’s Club has seen in its first years. It’s those people, she stressed, who hold down the fort when she is away.
“I think having a pharmacy team that supports you and your initiatives is so helpful,” Caven said. “I would not be able to do what I do without them.”