Front-line Leaders: Bushard's Pharmacy and Apothecary

Marisa Fader, Vice President of Bushard's Pharmacy and Apothecary, a member of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy network, joins Drug Topics.

Drug Topics®: Hello and thank you for tuning in to today's episode of Over the Counter in partnership with AmerisourceBergen and Good Neighbor Pharmacy. I'm Miranda Hester, editor for Drug Topics® and I'm joined today by Marisa Fader, Vice President at Bushard’s Pharmacy and Apothecary, a member of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy network. Happy to have you join us.

Bushard’s Pharmacy was recently named a Pharmacy of The Year finalist as part of Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s annual ThoughtSpot Conference and Trade Show. Each year, the award recognizes pharmacies that have gone above and beyond for their communities and displayed excellence in patient care and innovative pharmacy practice. Marisa, congratulations on this wonderful recognition. I'm looking forward to hearing about the role your pharmacy serves in your community and your approach to patient care, but first I want to give you an opportunity to share a bit more background in history on yourself and your pharmacy.

Marisa Fader: Hi, my name is Marisa. I am the Vice President of Bushard’s Pharmacy. My mom is the president. I graduated Loyola Marymount University with a business degree; when I came out of college, we were in quite a bit of a recession, so I couldn't find a job anywhere. I decided, why not, I'll work with my mom and see what happens. And over 10 years later, here I am.

Our pharmacy is located in Laguna Beach, California. My mom is the owner now, [and] my grandfather started the business in 1946. He was a pharmacist and went to [the University of Southern California]. We're on our third generation. I'm hoping that we continue that for as long as possible. We serve our little beach community, and our biggest priority is our customers and our patients. We try to do the most that we can to provide a healthy place for them.

Drug Topics®: Can you touch on this specific community you serve in Laguna Beach, California? What is your community like, and what are they looking for from their pharmacy?

Fader: For the most part, we have a pretty healthy population. There's a lot of older, retired people, but there's also a lot of new, young families who have moved to this beach community so that they can enjoy it. We also have a lot of people that travel here on vacation, so we do serve a lot of traveling people when they run out of their medication or need something transferred, or forgot [a medication], or need help because they're not home. We also provide that service to that community.

Drug Topics®: You mentioned the family-owned aspect of your pharmacy; what does being a family-owned pharmacy mean to you, and what influence has it had on how you run your business and serve your patients?

Fader: Well, I think when your name is on the front door, there's definitely much more of a pride of ownership in the business. There's a personal responsibility to our customers and our patients. And for us, it's very important to know their name, know their kid's name, know their dog's name, know that they just went on vacation, and know what's going on in their lives. We treat our patients like our family because we are still family-owned, and to me, that's the most important part.

Drug Topics®: It's been made clear that pharmacists play a massive role in patient care, drive value for broader for the broader healthcare system and will continue to expand their roles in the years to come. Can you discuss how your pharmacy has evolved and expanded its services and offerings over the years to meet patient's evolving needs and expectations?

Fader: We have tried to make the process of refilling and transferring your prescriptions as easy as possible. Obviously, we still accept phone calls all of the time, but we've implemented an app and we've put something on our website to refill your prescriptions. We try to offer as many immunizations and vaccinations as we can, because everybody doesn't always want to make an appointment [with their physician]. And if they're here already, it's easy to just get what they need.

We try to synchronize as many medications for our patients as possible. We do that through consultations with the pharmacist so that they're adherent to their medication and taking it when they're supposed to and know what [it is] and why they're taking it. We've offered delivery for a long time so we're going to continue to do that. We do have a little back Dutch door that has become kind of a curbside pickup, which is fun because people just drive by, and we hand their prescription out the window to them. Then as far as the front end of the store, the products that we provide to our patients are always adapting and changing, and we take their interests and their recommendations into consideration and try and always keep an updated front end.

Drug Topics: Thinking about the onset and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, what changes were made to your pharmacy to continue delivering critical patient care during this time? I see that Bushard’s opened a COVID-19 vaccination site during April 2021. Can you talk me through that service and how it allows you to step up as a community health care destination?

Fader: Once the quarantine was sanctioned in California, we decided to offer free delivery because everybody was at home and didn't want to venture outside. Most of the time, we delivered toothpaste with somebody's prescription as well, so we're offering whatever type of medication [the patient needed] or over the counter items needed to feel safe and stay at home; we wanted to provide that free delivery.

And then, as the pandemic continued, we realized that we needed to be able to provide the COVID-19 vaccine for our customers and our patients. Like I said, we do have an elderly, retired population here who is somewhat homebound, and they can't travel hours to go get their vaccine. I worked with the city of Laguna Beach to be able to utilize a large empty building that's actually right across from our retail location. We were able to open up a big, safe space for people to come and get their vaccine. With the city's help, it was very easy to set up this clinic. And we were able to provide that service for our patients so that they didn't have to travel too far outside of their homes.

Drug Topics®: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, how has being a part of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy network advanced your pharmacy and help set you apart from competitors? What areas of support proved most useful to your business and staff members?

Fader: Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen have been so supportive to us throughout this whole thing. Obviously, we all had no idea what was going on and what was coming next. I was able to reach out to our business coach Kelly De La Fuente at AmerisourceBergen, and they were able to at least try and provide me an answer or advice on what was happening next. We were one of the first pharmacies to receive that first Pfizer[BioNTech vaccine] allocation, which I was a little nervous about taking on because, you know, the storage of it has to be at the super low temperature, and it was a large quantity of vaccines. I was a little bit hesitant, but we decided that being able to offer all of the vaccines was most important to our patients. Having the business coach… I can't even explain how helpful [it was] because I would call her or text her almost every day with a question about something. Even just processing these prescriptions and these vaccines, this is all new to us. Having AmerisourceBergen and Good Neighbor Pharmacy as a resource was really helpful for us throughout this.

Drug Topics®: As mentioned earlier, Bushard’s has been recognized as a Pharmacy of the Year finalist by Good Neighbor Pharmacy. What does this recognition mean to you, and what about Bushard’s are you most proud of?

Fader: Obviously, it is a huge honor to be nominated. We're very proud and feel very honored to be nominated.

Something that I'm really proud of about Bushards is the longevity. We are 75 years old, and like I said, hopefully going to continue on for as long as possible. I think in this day and age, having a family-owned business that's been around for that long… it's something to be really proud of. And, you know, we're on our third generation of family members running the store and I think that's something special that you don't see all the time and that's something that I would like to continue. I'm hoping that once all the voting is open and public that our community will come out and vote and support us like they always have. We're very excited for this whole process.

Drug Topics®: That's great to hear, and best of luck to you. To finish our conversation, what are you hoping to accomplish for the year ahead? Do you have any new initiatives in the works or key priorities that you can share?

Fader: The health and wellbeing of our patients is always the priority. Things are always changing, and we're willing to adapt to what they need. Something that we've thought about is offering more vaccines; a lot of our patients are now traveling again, and there are certain vaccines that they need for that. We'll always continue to offer medication consultations with our patients to keep them healthy. And, I'm trying to coordinate some more wellness events to help our patients have more health information. I think the biggest thing is just to keep supporting our community and that's something that is always a goal, and always something that we're working on.