The Apothecary Shoppe: An Inner-City Success Story

March 4, 2020

Kevin DeMass, RPh, is the owner and leader of a talented team of professionals that encounters a wide variety of patients, ailments, and medications.

The Salt Lake metropolitan area is home to nearly 1,250,000 people. The Apothecary Shoppe is located in the densely populated northeaster section of the city. It is not far from the famous Mormon Temple, the State Capitol, and the campus of the University of Utah. The area is home to students, well-to-do business owners and professionals and a large percentage of the city’s poor, chronically ill and homeless. 

The pharmacy itself is housed in the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. Kevin DeMass, RPh, is the owner and leader of a talented team of professionals that encounters a wide variety of patients, ailments, and medications. DeMass is a pleasant, outgoing, and charismatic induvial who accepts the challenges of running an inner-city pharmacy with a big smile and the tenacity to find ways to provide people with the medications they need while still generating the revenue necessary to stay open.  

For example, due to his location, and the public service mission of the hospital, The Apothecary Shoppe treats many patients with mental and behavioral health conditions along with the social, emotional  and economic challenges these patients face. 

To help with that, he was part of a team of health care professionals, social workers and religious leaders that established the Valley Mental Health Clinic 20 years ago.  The clinic provided professional services to patients and then, as part of their treatment, wrote prescriptions for these patients. The Apothecary Shoppe filled the prescriptions and kept in close contact with the providers, while simultaneously working diligently to counsel, coach, and help patients stay on therapy. This process saw The Apothecary Shoppe become an early adopter of compliance packaging. Unfortunately, and to document the fact that nothing is easy in life, a few years ago the clinic established a 340B program and DeMass no longer services the program. 

DeMass attended a medical symposium sponsored by the Utah Pharmacy Association and heard a pharmacist talking about the benefits of naloxone in preventing deaths from opioid abuse. The idea that such a simple treatment could save so many lives captured his attention. After the presentation, he struck up a relationship with the presenter and agreed to participate in an effort to obtain grants to purchase naloxone kits. According to DeMass, he has dispensed nearly a thousand kits to patients or to their caregivers. While the kits are paid for by a grant, DeMass said each kit is dispensed with a 20-to-30 minute private training session. As part of the program, he donates his time to provide the training.

Going back to the 80s, DeMass was an early provider of medications to patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, due in part to his location. DeMass said, “Back in the early days there was not much that could be done medication wise to treat this devastating illness. But the most important thing the pharmacy did in the early epidemic days was accept patients other pharmacies were reluctant to serve and treat them with dignity and compassion.” 

Fortunately, due to a massive response to the epidemic, successful pharmaceutical treatments have been developed. Today, he says his youngest patients with HIV is 13 years old, and he has another patient he has served for decades who is 84.

The Apothecary Shoppe fills hundreds of prescriptions each day for what might be considered ‘regular’ patients. The pharmacy is exceptionally clean and the staff dresses in a professional manner. The pharmacists wear button down dress shirts with The Apothecary Shoppe logo embroidered on them.  Other team members wear business attire. Everyone wears a name tag that clearly identifies their name and their role in the pharmacy. 

The pharmacy provides medication synchronization, convenience/compliance packaging, specializes in immunizations and even has a special program to help foster parents receive all the vaccines they need to provide care for the kids in the program. This even includes providing all the necessary documentation the families may need. 

The pharmacy is supported with a variety of technology, including an Rx 30 pharmacy system that interacts with a VoIP telephone/IVR system, an AutoMed robot, an EyeCon & Kirby Lester pill counter.  He uses The Digital Pharmacist to support his web site and mobile app and improves patient compliance by using several PrescribeWellness patient care modules. 

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