Patients Are 'Not Just a Prescription Number' for Pharmacists

CS Family Pharmacy has migrated to a combo-type pharmacy, integrating long term care.

Natasha Patel, Pharmacy Manager at CS Family Pharmacy, and Philip Thomas, PIC, CS Family Pharmacy, spoke to Pharmacy Times about their time managing a pharmacy and being a nominee for Health Mart Pharmacy of the Year.

Natasha Patel: My name is Natasha Patel. I have worked for Family Pharmacy and Phil and Nancy since I was legally able to work at 16. I didn't want to be a pharmacist when I started working for them. I wanted to go to med school. Then I went to college. I decided I didn't want to study for the MCAT. And here we are almost 17 years later. I still work for Phil and Nancy, and I am their pharmacy manager. I run the show for them.

Phillip Thomas: Well, I started out a long time ago, 36 years ago. I started out in a grocery store, leased space from the grocery store. And then, that grocery store went out of business after 10 years. I had to move out overnight, set up a temporary location, move back in when a new grocery store came in 2 months later. And then that grocery store went out of business about 11 years later. Then, we opened up a free-standing pharmacy in the shopping center. I went to University of Illinois, graduated a long time ago, back when there was only 1 pharmacy school in the state of Illinois.

Patel: I think one of the things I talked about in the video, when we shared with McKesson was, we have never gotten an automated system. When you call Family Pharmacy, one of us always answers. I think it’s really important, especially being on the other end of trying to get a hold of other pharmacies for frustrated patients. It’s hard—you’re hitting buttons, you’re not getting to a human, you’re connected to a call center for one of the chains. It’s frustrating. So, we see our patients’ frustrations when they come to us looking for a new pharmacy. I think that really does set us apart and our customer service. We really are here for our patients; they are not just a prescription number for us. They are families that we have known for years and become a part of their family.

Thomas: Well, we also migrated to a combo-type pharmacy, walk-up retail business is still the majority of our business, but we’ve integrated long term care. That’s growth in our pharmacy. We also, when we moved into a freestanding location, we opened up a durable medical equipment section. So, we do that. Just being in the community for so many years differentiates us from say, for instance, the chains or any other pharmacy in the area.

Patel: I think it’s a really big accomplishment, to see all these different pharmacy owners on the tradeshow floor, and to meet them, and have people come up to us and recognize us. I think it feels great. I think it’s great that we have the opportunity to showcase what we do in our town and what we do for the community. But I think there are a lot of deserving pharmacies here today that work as much as we do and provide for their community at an independent level.

Thomas: I agree with Tasha. There are hundreds of pharmacies that are very, very successful at this show, and we’re just one of them. But, it’s nice to have some type of recognition after all these years.

Patel: I think we’d be really excited, obviously. A lot of our patients are rooting for us. We put it on our social media. We have people calling us all week. "Hey, did you guys go to that convention yet? Like, have you won?” So there are anxious people waiting at home, awaiting results. I had a customer texted me this morning, saying “do you know yet?”

Thomas: I mean, it’s a big deal. It is. I think the format that McKesson used this year—I never really paid attention to Pharmacy of the Year in previous years. I really didn’t, because we weren’t part of it. The store owners were not, or pharmacies were not part of it. I thought what they did this year was fantastic. I mean, we were like campaigning—you get buttons. We’re out there and like Natasha said, people are coming up to us all day long saying congratulations. For us, I think that McKesson really did it right this year.

Patel: I would say just keep doing what you do. Be a part of the community. Work as hard as possible for your patients; be their advocate. Don’t focus on trying to win something like this. This is not ever—we never even thought this would be us at first. So just keep doing what you’re doing, work hard, and you’ll be there one day too.

Thomas: And for my perspective, having a person like Natasha. She filled out, she did all the work—legwork—really for this award, from filling out the documents that were necessary for McKesson to just promoting our pharmacy, really.

Thomas: The 2 other finalists are great people. I mean, we've met them personally. What they’re doing is so much different than what we do. They’re in rural communities. We're in big suburban, big metropolitan area, suburban-metropolitan area, so everybody's different. We're all worthy of this award, really.