Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Go above and beyond to Serve

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Go above and beyond to Serve

Article excerpt

Every day, thousands of pharmacists across America serve their patients and their communities. Most of them are unsung heros and heroines who quietly go about the business of extending a helping hand to others. Drug Topics saw National Pharmacy Week as the perfect time to salute two of them as a tribute to all R.Ph.s who go above and beyond the call of duty.

STAYING PUT:

Irwin "Irv" Sitkoff stared at what was left of his pharmacy--a side wall, heat-twisted steel beams near the front door, piles of smoldering rubble. Not much to show for 30 years of his life...not much he could have done to prevent it--just another innocent victim of the arson, looting, and violence that swept South Central Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict in April.

"It was desolation," said Sitkoff, the R.Ph.-owner of Florence Owl Drug. "There was nothing left to retrieve. It was all ashes. No future, no past, just nothing. "

Who would have blamed Sitkoff if he decided to relocate his pharmacy to a safe middle-class community in the suburbs? Or even said to hell with it and retired at age 62? Instead, he and his Chinese-Filipino partner, Millie Kwan, decided to reopen and rebuild in the predominantly Hispanic and African-American blue-collar neighborhood of Florence because their patients need them.

Even as Sitkoff surveyed the ruin, he discovered that many in the neighborhood shared his loss. "People kept coming over to apologize and to pay condolences, almost like a funeral," he said. "We got the idea that the neighborhood liked us. Generally speaking, they were as stunned as we were. I never felt it was the community that did it to me. There were uncontrollable forces at work."

Just two weeks after the fire, the pharmacy reopened down the block in a vacant store Sitkoff had to swiftly refurbish and stock. His computer vendor quickly got a system running in his house. The pharmacy board was very understanding of his situation. And his wholesalers have been "extremely cooperative," he said, even carrying his new stock on the books.

"People are happy about our staying," said Sitkoff, who works hard to be a good neighbor and to deliver health-based pharmacy service. "Not a day goes by that someone doesn't come over to shake our hands and tell us they're glad we're here. They come in to buy something they ordinarily wouldn't buy here, maybe toothpaste, just to show us support. That's nice."

Sitko's lease allows him to stay in the temporary pharmacy on favorable terms for as long as it takes to replace the burned-out store. Now his biggest headache is getting permission from Los Angeles County bureaucrats to rebuild. …

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