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Albertsons launches new Web site focused on health, nutrition

BY Michael Johnsen

FULLERTON, Calif. Albertsons, a Supervalu company, on Monday launched a new online community, AlbertsonsWellbeing.com, that will provide users with tools to help them make easy, value-driven choices for healthier living.

“As a retail grocer committed to being a leader in the area of health and nutrition, our company understands the long-term importance of a forum with interactive tools and knowledge to enable our customers to make healthier life decisions,” stated Stephanie Martin, Albertsons director of communications and public affairs.

Albertsons Wellbeing was developed in conjunction with Albertsons’ nutritionist Heidi Diller and Albertsons’ clinical pharmacist Jeff Ward to ensure that its community discussion forums, well-being tips and recipes help users discover accurate nutritional and supplement information.

And the site has a social media component; AlbertsonsWellbeing.com makes it easy for users to contribute their own ideas and interact with other people who are interested in healthy living, including user-provided video and discussion boards.

In addition to Diller and Ward, some of the regular contributors will include:

  • Jason Mednick, who will provide quick-and-easy food tips and shortcuts for an active lifestyle;
  • Kyle Gorham, a “fearless” food explorer who likes to test out adventurous, healthy eating ideas and share the results;
  • Lilia Rodriguez is open to trying out new recipes and cooking techniques. She will write about managing her blood sugar through healthy eating;
  • Stephanie Martin, a sports lover who believes in fueling her body but also leaving room for dessert;
  • Scott Snelders will write about striking the right balance between good-for-you and food that is good, especially when it comes to nutrition at work; and
  • Laurie Raymundo, a busy mom who is trying to get dinner on the table while also keeping tabs on her two young children.

“We recognize that our customers are busy, and healthier choices can sometimes fall by the wayside,” Martin said. “We designed the Albertsons Wellbeing site to be a daily resource, where this community will enable each other to make food, cooking and healthy choices that are smart for themselves and their families.”

Albertsons will hold a Twitter contest to kick off AlbertsonsWellbeing.com. From Jan. 15 to Jan. 31, users who visit AlbertsonsWellbeing.com and tweet the announcement listed there will be entered to win a $500 gift card.

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Supporting wellness

BY DSN STAFF

Drug Store News spoke with Tom Finnegan, VP sales, diagnostics and health care for Homedics, about how the company’s newly acquired line of Obus Forme backrest support products can help drug retailers position themselves as a wellness destination for customers.

Drug Store News: What does the acquisition of Obus Forme bring to the Homedics portfolio of products?

Tom Finnegan: The acquisition of Obus Forme is a natural for the Homedics family of health-and-wellness products. Obus Forme already enjoys a long-standing history and reputation across Canada for its renowned line of backrest supports, ergonomic seating and supportive sleep products. As the world’s No. 1 brand in consumer health and wellness, Homedics is widely known and respected. With the Obus Forme by Homedics brand, the marketplace benefits from a more inclusive product offering, and the two brands will benefit from the close synergies that exist.

DrSN: How do you see the brand fitting into drug stores?

Finnegan: The Obus Forme by Homedics brand is a great fit for today’s drug store environment on several fronts. More than ever, the consumer is looking for quality and affordability with every health-related purchase. Obus Forme by Homedics products are designed with a holistic approach in mind, applying a thorough understanding of the human anatomy to create the innovative products that address the complete wellness needs of the consumer.

As a brand, Obus Forme by Homedics is recommended by healthcare practitioners, as well as leading health-related associations across Canada, so it’s an established brand in the backrest support category. It’s a perfect fit for today’s drug retailers who want to provide a holistic approach to comfort, and [provide] health to their consumers.

DrSN: Do you think a better selection of backrest supports can help position drug stores’ image as wellness centers?

Finnegan: Today’s drug store retailer offers shoppers the opportunity to review a wide range of products to meet their overall health needs, and Obus Forme by Homedics fills an important piece of that puzzle by serving as the “therapeutic” arm of the Homedics family of products.… The credibility of this line of noninvasive, highly effective products resonates with consumers and retailers, and allows drug stores a new opportunity to better meet the needs of their consumers. It’s a solid growth opportunity.

We have distribution through Cardinal Health, Complete Medical and H.D. Smith, and this allows us to penetrate more than 10,000 independent pharmacies and durable medical equipment dealers.

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An early health/wellness adopter, Ukrop’s will be a ‘Giant’ for Ahold

BY Alaric DeArment

RICHMOND, Va. —As this issue went to press, it seemed Ahold had emerged as the winner in its bid to add the 72-year-old Ukrop’s supermarket chain to its Giant-Carlisle division.

Apart from the stores and pharmacy files themselves, of course, Ahold inherits a variety of health-and-wellness programs that Ukrop’s had developed for its customers.

One area in which Ukrop’s has made a name for itself is in immunizations. The stores offer vaccinations for influenza and pneumococcal disease, and prides itself on being one of the first pharmacy operators in the country to offer vaccinations. It also offers travel vaccinations for such diseases as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and rabies—diseases that are uncommon in the United States but are widespread throughout much of the world, particularly in developing countries. The chain offers travel vaccinations in a small number of its stores, but the presence of the service provides a convenience to customers. The program has earned the praise of pharmacy leaders.

In October 2009, American Pharmacists Association CEO Tom Menighan reviewed the chain’s vaccination program on a store tour with Ukrop’s director of pharmacy and health services John Beckner. In a blog entry on the APhA’s Web site, Menighan remarked, “While each location had a generally similar feel, the pharmacists and technicians were proud of their unique services, their teamwork and perhaps most importantly, their connection with their patients.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Ukrop’s
No. of stores 27
Stores with Rx 26

The travel vaccination program will soon be expanded to other stores via a “hub and spoke” model. Another area Menighan praised was the chain’s medication therapy management program.

Ukrop’s has branched out into retail clinics as well. In May 2008, it opened a clinic in its Salem Church store in Fredericksburg, Va., through a collaboration with the Pratt Medical Center. The clinic, staffed by a nurse practitioner, was the first for Ukrop’s and the sixth for Pratt.

Diabetes also has a position of high importance at Ukrop’s. According to the Virginia Diabetes Council, nearly 2 million people in the state are diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic. The state’s government-run Virginia Diabetes Prevention and Control Project ranks the condition as the sixth leading cause of death among state residents.

Ukrop’s began offering diabetes education classes early in the decade on such subjects as blood-glucose monitoring, nutrition, exercise and other topics to obtain certification from the American Diabetes Association. While it doesn’t offer the classes anymore, it has retained its focus on the disease, offering screenings for blood sugar and blood pressure, and pharmacists who double as certified diabetes educators can offer counseling to patients. Meanwhile, the pharmacists serve as liaisons with in-store dieticians who can provide additional education and support.

“Certainly, a lot of it is on the patient to do what they can themselves, and if we can provide them with the tools or roadmap to negotiate the store with respect to the wellness services that are offered, then we feel like we’ve done our job,” Beckner said.

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