“Small Things Can Make a Big Difference”

Pharmacy Times, October 2020, Volume 88, Issue 10

Palace Drug Store owner Hannah Taylor and her employees go above and beyond to help patients.

Palace Drug Store in Colby, Kansas, has been in operation since 1977, when there were 2 other independent pharmacies on the same block.

Palace was the first pharmacy in town to have a computer. In July 2017, owners Randy and Linda Smith sold the pharmacy to Hannah Taylor, PharmD, the owner and pharmacist in charge, who is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy in Lawrence. Both Randy and Linda Smith still work at the pharmacy.

“We have essentially traded roles. Randy is now a staff pharmacist, and Linda helps manage the gift and [over-the-counter] sections,” Taylor said.

Like many others in the independent pharmacy world, Taylor began working at an independent when she was just 17 years old.

“I began as a clerk, moved up to technician, then became an intern in pharmacy school, and am now a pharmacist/owner. That first summer as a pharmacy clerk had me hooked,” Taylor said.

“After that I set the goal of becoming a pharmacist. I loved the face time with patients and being able to help them at some of their most stressful times,” Taylor said.

“A lot of times people come straight to the pharmacy after an upsetting diagnosis. Working for an independent taught me that this job is as much about caring for people as it is filling prescriptions,” Taylor said.

“I always knew I wanted to work for an independent if I could,” she said.

The pharmacists at Palace provide consulting services. Randy Smith consults monthly at a long- term-care facility, and Taylor consults quarterly for a nearby assisted-living facility, as well as the local health department.

“This provides additional income, as well as fosters positive relationships with other health care entities,” she said.

Understanding how these facilities operate from the inside gives the pharmacists insight into their unique challenges and allows them to better address their needs.

Palace is a “special order pharmacy; if we don’t have it, we will try our hardest to order it in,” Taylor said.

The pharmacy even carries old-school products, such as hot water bottles, litmus paper, and PRID drawing salve. Palace is the only place in town where patients can be fitted for compression stockings, as well as purchase those stockings and durable medical equipment.

Taylor likes to make patients feel welcome. “We always make a point to greet them as soon as they enter the door,” she said. “Being in a small town, we are lucky to know most of our customers on a first-name basis.”

Taylor is proud of the wide variety of merchandise that Palace sells. “You can get anything from toys to baby clothes to Yankee Candle to Hallmark gifts/cards to perfume/cologne as well as tra- ditional pharmacy [OTC] products and supplies. In over 40 years, we’ve never missed a day of deliveries unless the store was closed,” Taylor said.

“There have been some hairy weather conditions, but we perse- vered to get everyone their medications,” she said.

Taylor, knowing the importance of vaccines, makes a special effort to vaccinate everyone, including patients who have difficulty getting out of their cars or who are homebound.

“Both pharmacists have made house calls or given vaccines in our back alley in order to vaccinate everyone. We’ve been told that if we didn’t make that extra effort, they most likely would not have gotten vaccinated at all,” Taylor said.

Palace’s compassionate delivery drivers have also helped homebound patients while at their houses, bringing in mail, fixing a television remote, setting up a nebulizer, or taking out the garbage.

“Those small things really can make a big difference,” Taylor said. Getting out into the community is a big part of the mission. The pharmacists provide flu shot clinics to employers on site, as well as at a local assisted-living facility. Taylor serves on the Colby Chamber of Commerce board and is secretary/treasurer for the Colby Downtown Business Association.

The pharmacy also employs students from the University of Kansas. “For some, it’s a bit of a shock to be placed in a rural com- munity. Where we’re located, the pharmacy is often the first stop for people with minor ailments,” Taylor said.

“The students are surprised to see we’ve removed ticks, wrapped sprained ankles, applied first aid, and much more for our customers,” she said. “This shows students that pharmacists are still one of the most accessible health care providers available.”

Taylor and her husband, Ryan, have 2 dogs, Bailey, a 6-year-old boxer, and Bandit, a 4-year-old border collie mix. They live on a farm several miles outside of town and raise corn, pinto beans, red angus cattle, and wheat.

“We jokingly call it our ‘pharm’ life.” Taylor said.

In their spare time, the Taylors enjoy visiting a nearby lake or riding their Polaris RZR all-terrain vehicle out in the country.