Magazine article Drug Topics

Independent Superstars

Magazine article Drug Topics

Independent Superstars

Article excerpt

This year's best performers in service, competition, crisis, and merchandising

Independent pharmacies are seeing more competition each year as chain pharmacies pop up across the United States. Owners of independent pharmacies are focusing more every day on niche services as they strive to stand out to customers.

Each year, pharmacists who offer special services are recognized by their peers and wholesalers through nomi- nations for Drug Topics' annual Top Independent Pharma- cists awards, which honor four pharmacists or pharmacy teams for their impact on their communities.

Wholesalers and fellow pharmacists nominate can- didates in the following cat- egories:

* Exceptional pharmacy and nonpharmacy services

* Handling a crisis

* Exceptional merchandising/ advertising/promotion

* Overcoming competition

We've featured an outstanding independent pharmacy in each category. The winners are:


Marge McCoy

Owns: Lopez Island Pharmacy

Pharmacist for: 33 years

Owned the pharmacy for: 15 years

Richard McCoy

Owns: Lopez Island Pharmacy

Pharmacist for: 32 years

Owned the pharmacy for: 15 years

Exceptional service

Marge McCoy, RPh, and Richard McCoy, RPh, Marge McCoy can spot a case of shingles yards away. She can tell when medication is not going to be enough to help her patients even before they know what's wrong with them. That professional vigilance and willingness to do whatever it takes to serve patient needs are the hallmarks of the services she and her husband provide day in and day out.

Until the mid-1990s, Richard was very active in Colorado's state and local government, speaking out about clinical pharmacy issues. But after what he calls the "demoralizing defeat" of a pharmacy bill in 1994, the couple decided to pack up and leave the pharmacies they owned in Denver. They settled in Washington State, where they own the only pharmacy on Lopez Island. "We'll have tourists or snow birds come in and have a prescription filled and they will call us once they get back home to have us continue to mail them their prescriptions because they enjoyed the attention we gave them when they were on the island," Marge said.

The McCoys counsel every patient who comes into the pharmacy on a first visit to fill a prescription. It doesn't matter whether the patient has been taking the medication for 30 years. Marge said. She'll still counsel them. "I don't care whether they're a doctor. It's my job. I won't let them get away without it."

Some pharmacies, she said, try to focus on getting customers in and out as quickly as possible and later brag about convenience. But Lopez Pharmacy tries to get away from the "fast-food medicine" mentality. The McCoys will take as much time with a patient as necessary.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure my customers have the best outcomes," Marge said. She and her husband have delivered medications to senior citizens who are unable to travel and pans for durable medical equipment to patients' homes.

The McCoys also offer a state-approved training program for pharmacy technicians. Often they will recruit students right out of high school if they don't have plans for continued education. "We kind of help the kids who are not going anywhere, and we try to give them a path," Richard said. The training program doesn't cost the young adults anything; instead, the pharmacy pays them.

Their pharmacy features an old-iasiiioned soda fountain, where community members meet for breakfast and good company. Richard likes to have his coffee there every morning before he starts work. "It's the perfect way to start the day," he said.

But none of their other services match the care the McCoys give their patients. They know all of them by name and will accompany them, if necessary, to the clinic located behind the pharmacy. "Because we're on an island and medical care is a little bit unique, we're available 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Marge said. …

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