Meeting the Needs of a Remote Community: The Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year
Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year, Harry Race Pharmacy provides creative solutions for their patients in Sitka, Alaska.
In the island town of Sitka, Alaska, independent pharmacy owners Dirk and Trish White are providing unique care to meet the needs of their community. Their efforts were recognized on Friday, August 1, 2014, when their pharmacy, Harry Race Pharmacy, was named the Good Neighbor Pharmacy of the Year.
The award recognizes members of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy network who are committed to improving the lives of patients within their local communities. The finalists for the award were selected from more than 60 nominees, including Davies Drugs in Canton, Ohio, and Deines Pharmacy in Beatrice, Nebraska.
For the first time ever, voting to select this year’s winner was opened to the public. After watching short videos about each finalist, pharmacists, patients, families, and friends could vote for the one they felt best represented a Good Neighbor Pharmacy.
“We asked our Facebook community to vote, and the response was amazing,” Scott Robinson, vice president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy, said before the winner was announced at ThoughtSpot 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The votes were close, Robinson said, but Harry Race Pharmacy came out on top.
“I don’t know that we do anything that’s more unique than anyone else,” Dirk said in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “We’re providing patient care in the best manner that we can, which every pharmacy is doing in their own manner.”
For the staff of Harry Race Pharmacy, patient care often involves overcoming barriers to medication access, the couple explained.
“We’re lucky to live on an island.” Trish said. “Sometimes it’s a handicap to get things there, but I think pharmacists are great at handling those types of challenges.”
The pharmacy works with remote and local specialists, health-systems, long-term care facilities, and other health care professionals to ensure that their patients receive the best care at home. During medication shortages and periods of time when the delivery of medications to the island is impeded, the pharmacists find other solutions, often combining readily available medications to treat patients.
“Delivery is key—especially in the winter—so you have to get creative,” Dirk said. “It’s about problem solving. We have to be a little odd in our thought process.”
Serving the local community is a priority for the Whites outside of their pharmacy, as well. The duo regularly volunteer on boards and committees for local events and initiatives. In addition, tips from the old-fashioned soda fountain located within Harry White Pharmacy are donated to a local cause each month.
“We are living in a very closed community, so we have to think locally about everything we do,” Dirk said. “What everybody does affects everyone else.”
The pharmacy also helps to provide stable employment to community members in an area where year-round jobs are hard to come by. The husband and wife team employ more than 40 individuals across their 2 pharmacy locations, cards and gift shop, and custom printing and embroidery store.
“What we can do to provide sustainability to our community is keeping people healthy, keeping them productive…so that they can go out and fish and enjoy wilderness and enjoy a full life,” Dirk said.