Husband-and-Wife Team Are Dynamic Pharmacist Duo
Karen Berger, PharmD, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2001. She has worked in community pharmacies for over 17 years as a Pharmacist in Charge, staff, and floater pharmacist for a large chain. Currently, she is a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in Northern NJ. She can be reached at email@example.com
Dixie and Neil Leikach drive change and provide niche services through their 3 Maryland pharmacies.
Dixie Leikach, RPh, MBA, FACA, and her husband, Neil Leikach, RPh, FACA, own 3 pharmacies in Maryland: Catonsville Pharmacy, Finksburg Pharmacy, and Paradise Professional Pharmacy in Catonsville. Dixie is vice president of their company, and Neil is president.
Neil was exposed at an early age to the independent pharmacy world, as his father owned one. He got his first job as a delivery driver at Paradise Pharmacy, working through pharmacy school to become pharmacist manager, a position he held until the store was sold. In February 1999, an opportunity to open a new pharmacy on the old site presented itself, and Catonsville Pharmacy was born.
Dixie decided at a young age, while earning a Girl Scout career badge, to become a pharmacist. She worked at a chain pharmacy until the Finksburg location opened in 2003. The third location grew out of the assisted-living/group home business that Dixie and Neil had launched from their retail locations.
Dixie and Neil, both graduates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Medicine, use their status as independent owners to drive change in pharmacy practice and provide niche services. The 3 locations were the first pharmacies in Maryland to provide pharmacist-administered immunizations. Each provides medication synchronization and blister pack options, including the Medicine-On-Time system. Paradise Professional Pharmacy uses a DOSIS automated packaging system to streamline the workflow of the long-term care business. The pharmacies are enrolled in a pilot study with the Maryland Health Care Commission to provide their pharmacists with full access to the Maryland Health Information Exchange. They each also carry unique front-end items not found in larger chain stores, and they rent and sell breast pumps and accessories. The Catonsville location also participates in prescription-to-OTC drug studies.
Dixie, Neil, and the pharmacy staff “become a part of the families we serve. We write thank-you cards, send sympathy cards, and greet all our patients by name. We have been known to attend funerals and family milestones,” Dixie said.
“A patient was being treated for cancer. I didn’t find out until after his passing that one night, his daughter wanted to get a prescription filled and went to a different pharmacy because we were closed. The pharmacist pointed to her and very matter-of-factly said, ‘Don’t interfere with my relationship with Dixie,’ and that was it! We did laugh about it because it reflected his personality and was indicative of our relationship. He was one of my first patients at Finksburg, and I still miss him checking in to see whether business is ‘doing OK,’” Dixie commented.
Although patients appreciate the personal touch, they also enjoy using Digital Pharmacist, which lets them request refills via a mobile app or the platform’s website.
Dixie and Neil enjoy giving back to the community by participating in local road cleanups, sponsoring school sports teams, and supporting community fundraisers. Dixie described a time when one of the pharmacy-sponsored softball teams was at a festival:
“One of the players recognized me and came over to thank me for our sponsorship. Every player at their booth ended up thanking me personally. It really showed how much of a difference we can make in the lives of kids who depend on these activities for a variety of reasons.”
Dixie added, “Neil and I want to be the health care solution center for our communities. Whether that is through our delivery service, ordering a medication they are having trouble finding, or providing hard-to-find products in our front end, little ways can make life easier. However, our compliance packaging and medication synchronization have made a real difference in health outcomes, and I am pleased to be a part of that solution for our patients.”
In their spare time, Dixie and Neil, both 1992 graduates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Pharmacy, remain very active in the community. They are both past presidents of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Pharmacy Alumni Association and the Maryland Pharmacists Association. Dixie is past national president of Lambda Kappa Sigma and president-elect of the American College of Apothecaries. At their synagogue, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Neil is the vice president of ritual life and Dixie is the comanager of the Sisterhood Judaica Shop. Dixie is also a sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics and the chief executive and president of the nonprofit Pharmacy Ethics, Education & Resources. She is collaborating with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Pharmacy on a pharmacist academic detailing project to increase naloxone dispensing in the state.
Meanwhile, the couple’s oldest son, Eric, recently married Ke’Onna, and they both work for the pharmacies. Their youngest son, Marc, is attending college and living in Florida.
Karen Berger, PharmD, is a pharmacist at an independent pharmacy in northern New Jersey.