Front-line Leaders: Roden-Smith Pharmacy

Micah Lansford, owner and pharmacist at Roden-Smith Pharmacy, a member of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy network, joins Drug Topics to discuss the role his pharmacy plays in his Clovis, New Mexico community.

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 and I'm an editor with Drug Topics®. I'm joined today by Micah Lansford, owner and pharmacist at Roden-Smith Pharmacy, a member of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy Network. Thank you so much for joining us.

Roden-Smith Pharmacy was recently named a Pharmacy of the Year finalist as part of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s annual ThoughtSpot conference and trade show. The award recognizes pharmacies who have gone above and beyond for their communities and displayed excellence in patient care and innovative pharmacy practice.

Dr. Lansford, congratulations on this incredible recognition. I'd love to hear more about how you've supported your patients and community over the last several years. But first, can you share a bit of your background in history of both yourself and your pharmacy?

Michah Lansford: Thanks for having me on; I appreciate it. My name is Micah Lansford. I'm the owner and pharmacist in charge here at Roden-Smith Pharmacy. I went to Texas Tech University for my undergrad degree in biochemistry and then went to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, for pharmacy school. My background thus far in my career has mainly been community pharmacy.

We're located in Clovis, New Mexico. It's all the way on the east side of the state, about 10 miles away from Texas. Roden-Smith pharmacy has been around for almost 75 years through various owners; I just happen to be the current one. My dad bought the pharmacy back in 1996 and I purchased it from him in 2019. My parents are still involved. My mom was a technician and a bookkeeper and my father is still a pharmacist, of course. He relieves our staff pharmacists whenever they are out, and he also holds a block in our morning rotation that's primarily checking patient medications. They're both really very helpful still, to this day, in my ownership of the pharmacy.

Drug Topics®: Can you speak a bit about your specific community in Clovis, New Mexico? And what makes your patient population unique in terms of their needs and how they interact with your pharmacy?

Lansford: In Clovis, we have a relatively diverse community, for more of a rural community. We have an Air Force base here that's a special operations base that means a lot to us; we're awfully proud to have the Cannon Air Force base here. Those members of the Air Force community, their families live here, we go to school with them, and we’re involved with them in a lot of ways. It changes the dynamics having them here. We have a huge agricultural community, a railroad community, a dairy community… And so in our town of about 50,000 people, we have some pretty different occupations that all collide together and coexist here.

Drug Topics®: You mentioned the family-owned aspect of your pharmacy. Has that dynamic influenced your approach to patient care and relationships?

Lansford: It definitely has. I started working in the pharmacy when I was very young, probably at an illegal age. I got to observe not only my parents, but our entire staff engage with patients. I felt like I really had a front row seat to see how to really take care of people, especially whenever they really needed something above and beyond a normal patient interaction. Being able to observe that really has a lasting effect and you want to have that type of engagement with patients as often as possible. That's what's rewarding about being a pharmacist, especially on the front lines—being able to have those experiences with patients.

Drug Topics®: As everyone in the industry knows, the pharmacist’s role in patient care has, and continues, to grow exponentially. Can you discuss how your pharmacy has expanded its services and offerings over the years to meet patient's evolving needs?

Lansford: At Roden-Smith, we are all about our [medication synchronization] program. We see it as the main foundation of every other service. It really allows us to not just spend time filling prescriptions, but to do it in a thoughtful way. Then we can spend time pursuing other things like our nonsterile compounding, both hazardous and nonhazardous. We do facility management and consulting; we actually go into facilities almost every week to review patient medications, in addition to consulting services to make sure that the facility staff and our staff are on the same page whenever it comes to those patients at facilities who are synchronized.

We do travel health; we do pretty much all vaccines, both in the pharmacy and in the form of remote clinics. We offer delivery services, we do multidose packaging, and to a lesser extent, we offer testing services. We want to continue to invest in services that produce outcomes for our patients that are helpful. We've had experiences in the past with services where we can say we offer it, but it's not necessarily helpful for patients, or doing the most good with our time and resources. In the future, we want to make sure that anything we're adding onto our plate does the most good that it can do.

Drug Topics®: Thinking specifically about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, what were some of the evolutions you needed to make to your business to continue delivering the care your community needed? How did you navigate factors like testing, immunization, and treatment to ensure access for your patients?

Lansford: That was something that we were really proud of. When COVID-19 started, nobody really knew what the appropriate reaction was. It seemed that there was this idea that a vaccine was going to become available; I knew that in our area, and in eastern New Mexico, that it was going to be an expectation that we provided [the vaccine], and provided it in an efficient way for a lot of people to get it. With allocations, and how they originally came out in New Mexico, the National Guard was put in charge of it. There was paperwork required to do business with the state, so to speak. And so, I tell people all the time, I wouldn't have that time, if I hadn't had been so organized with [medication synchronization], where I could spend days just preparing for the vaccine.

We partnered with the state in that way. We were able to get a couple hundred doses and had already developed a list of first-line eligible patients for it, and went to them within the first couple of weeks. We went to primary care clinics, we went to our facilities, and we went to our providers and frontline workers to give them the vaccine where they were at, and then also offered it in the pharmacy. We were able to get rid of a couple hundred doses in the first week in a really meaningful way.

That expedience, in initially getting rid of it in the best way, allowed the state to trust us with a lot more vaccines. I called the general who was in charge of it at the time and said, “You know, I'm really the only one here doing it. I could give a lot more, if you could promise me more vaccine.” He asked me, “How much can you give?” And I said, “Well, if I had 2000 doses a week, I could figure out a way to give it.” I thought I was overshooting what he was going to be willing to give me, but he said okay. I knew I was going to be getting 2000 doses a week for at least a month. I thought “How the heck am I going to get rid of 2000 doses that I've said I could get rid of?” It really put a lot of pressure on me to reach out to local people in the community and pull together to make it happen.

We reached out to a local building owner who owned [a building where] a grocery store that went out of business [used to be]; he offered up his building for us to set up a remote clinic. We reached out to the telecom provider to provide free internet there for us to put in all of our equipment, and we reached out to emergency management with the city and they provided services on-site and coordination for patients, [in addition to] cones and chairs and partitions and all kinds of equipment. The schools provided some equipment; emergency management provided an EMT on-site every day to manage our post-vaccination room.

We went through several months of giving as many as 500 vaccines a day. I think that working through local connections and partnering with a local pharmacy—with the connections and relationships we have and [are able to capitalize on]—those really made it a really successful endeavor for us. We had people driving from all the way up in Farmington, New Mexico—6 or 7 hours away—to Clovis, New Mexico, to get their vaccine because they had heard that they could come and get it, and it would be efficient and quick. They didn't have to worry about jumping through a bunch of hoops to get their vaccination in the first few months of 2021. It was a very stressful process, but we're awfully proud that we made it happen. We were able to give just an incredible amount of vaccines in the first few months of 2021.

Drug Topics®: How has being part of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy network benefited your pharmacy, particularly during the height of COVID-19, and what areas of support proved most valuable?

Lansford: I would say that through my rep and through our business coach, and through our boots on the ground people [at Good Neighbor Pharmacy], that's one of the most helpful things. If I have an issue with something, I can reach out to Todd, my rep, or Justin, my business coach. I can walk through with them, and they can connect me to the right people—whether that's products or services or paperwork, they're there to aid me in those endeavors and make sure that if they can't help me, they're going to get me connected with somebody who can help me. I really appreciate those two guys, especially for really being there for us throughout the whole process.

Drug Topics®: What does it mean to you that Roden-Smith Pharmacy has been named a Pharmacy of the Year finalist?

Lansford: It is a special recognition to even be nominated. It’s something that we've often thought that would be cool to go after, then had second thoughts and thought, “We probably don't deserve it, there are way better pharmacies out there than us.”

But this year, we thought, “We've really just put ourselves out there.” Our staff has just been incredible throughout the last couple of years, just putting in all kinds of overtime and doing whatever it took to get the job done every day. It's not just special to me and my family, but it's really something that we're proud of and can say for the whole staff that it's not my Pharmacy of the Year award; it’s our entire staff that deserves the recognition for even being nominated for an award like this. We're enjoying the process of going through it and hope that we're the winner—but if we're not, we're just proud to be among the top 3 that got nominated.

Drug Topics®: Best of luck to you! To close out our conversation, what are some of your main goals for the year ahead? What keeps you up at night and what are you most excited about?

Lansford: I think that as far as goals, in a lot of ways it's still surviving COVID-19; it's getting out boosters, and we're still spending a lot of time doing that. I think the last couple of years have taught us a lot as far as which goals should be prioritized, and how do you want to spend your time on those? We're wanting to make sure that our patients are taking care of in the most meaningful ways, and any goal we have in the future is going to align with that.

As far as what keeps me up at night, regulation and insurance practices—both in my career and before that—has been the most troubling thing. The complexity of just being a pharmacy and adhering to not only state and federal regulations, but then these provider manuals from [pharmacy benefit managers] and still having time to engage with patients [in ways that are] actually helpful to them... That's what I spend the most time talking about with my wife at night, and what would keep me up.

I hope that the industry, within community pharmacy and how it relates and interfaces with regulatory bodies and PBMs and insurers, can find a way where everyone can win. And we can evolve our relationship at the pharmacy back to being less about explaining insurance benefits and deductibles and copays and prior authorizations, and more back to medication therapy for patients and really being able to prioritize that and everything we do, and worry less about the financial side of it. That would be my hope for the future. I'm hoping to be a part of that change in whatever way I can.