Clearwater Pharmacy's Therapy Bunny Steals Hearts

Pharmacy Times, June 2021, Volume 89, Issue 06

Owner Nancy Peterson enjoys taking care of patients, accompanied by popular sidekick Rosie the Rabbiter.

Nancy Peterson, RPh, first fell in love with the pharmacy profession in high school, when she worked as a soda jerk at a local independent pharmacy. She then attended pharmacy school at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy in Lawrence. After graduating, Peterson gained a variety of experience working in chain, hospital, and independent pharmacies. She was hired to open Clearwater Pharmacy in Kansas in May 2016.

“The long-term and personal interaction with patients of independent pharmacies captured my attention and emotion the most. In a town of 2500, one gets to know folks pretty quickly,” she said.

Peterson recently purchased the pharmacy and plans to finish out her working years serving the Clearwater community. She finds that helping patients with overwhelming tasks, such as Medicare open enrollment, is essential. The pharmacy’s staff members make appointments with patients and sit down with them and their caregivers to explain the options available.

“It is alarming how many seniors simply don’t understand how many options they have and the effects, by not exploring those options, it can have,” Peterson said.

It is the little things that make the most impact, she continued. “We make it a point to greet every patient as they walk in, by name if possible. We also strive to communicate any issues, such as a third-party rejection, no refill situation, or the need to order medication promptly via phone or text,” Peterson said. “We also try to find manufacturer coupons for expensive meds.”

In addition to caring for patients, the most charming and unique aspect of Clearwater Pharmacy is that it is home to Rosie the Rabbiter, a 15-pound Flemish Giant certified therapy rabbit. The breed is known for its calm nature and is often used in therapy. Rosie has been on site during business hours since she was about 3 months old.

“The community has fallen in love with her,” Peterson said.

On her and Rosie’s days off, to the pharmacy posts a sign on the door with Rosie’s “hours” to prevent countless inquiries from patients looking for their furry friend.

“Young and old alike come to the store to pet and talk to Rosie. She loves the attention and the occasional treats,” Peterson said, adding that the bunny is “very laid back and welcoming.”

A brilliant marketer, Peterson has even given Rosie her own Facebook page (Rosie the Rabbiter) and Instagram account (@Rosietherabbiter), and a personal website is in the works. Peterson has started the process of forming a nonprofit organization centered around Rosie and her offspring “so that we will be able to continue to spread her joy and comfort to as many folks in the area as we can. We plan to call it ‘Rosie’s Snuggle Bunnies,’” she said.

Like most pharmacy staff members, Rosie does not have much downtime. In addition to her “shifts” at the pharmacy, she regularly visits the hospice and Transitional Living Center units at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center as well as the Wesley Children’s Hospital, both in Wichita, Kansas. Rosie also sometimes visits a local home for teenage girls and nearby assisted-living and long-term-care facilities.

“We have designed little trading cards with Rosie’s picture and information about her to hand to patients and families that she visits,” Peterson said.

Despite Rosie’s popularity, Peterson is also proud of her human employees. “My staff have become family members to me. I am so fortunate to have amazing [technicians], interns, and delivery staff,” she said. “I certainly could not do the things that I do without their help and support.”

In her spare time, Peterson, who got married in January 2020, enjoys spending time with her husband, a Bronze Star retired veteran.

“My husband never thought he would be a ‘bunny dad’ but has fully embraced the situation,” she pointed out.

Peterson says their blended family is a “true Brady Bunch,” as she has 3 daughters, he has 3 sons, and they have 2 grandchildren. She and her husband also enjoy traveling.

“We love to visit the local establishments that are off the beaten path when traveling,” Peterson said. “Our Christian faith is the center of our lives, and we strive to serve in whatever aspect that we can.”

A recent week-long mission trip to Kingston, Jamaica, ignited a fire in the couple to continue to serve outside the United States, and they hope to travel to Tanzania and Hungary soon.

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