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Pharmacy of the Year Finalist Bushard’s Pharmacy and Apothecary: Over 75 Years Serving Laguna Beach

Bushard’s offers more than just prescriptions for its beachside community.

Bushard’s Pharmacy and Apothecary has served the Laguna Beach, California community for over 75 years—since Marisa Fader’s grandfather first opened its doors in 1946. It’s been a family affair ever since and is now run by Fader and her mother, Sheila Bushard-Jamison. The family-owned label is important to Fader: “I think when your name is on the front door, there's pride of ownership in the business. There's a personal responsibility to our customers and our patients,” she said.

The team’s hard work—and the respect they’ve garnered within the community—resulted in Bushard’s Pharmacy being named a Pharmacy of the Year finalist, an annual award given by Good Neighbor Pharmacy at ThoughtSpot, an annual conference and trade show celebrating independent community pharmacy.

Bushard’s utilizes technology to make the prescription process as easy as possible, offering an app and website to facilitate refills in addition to the tried-and-true phone call. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmacy offered curbside pickup through a Dutch door, which became a key access point for customers during the days of quarantine. Bushard’s staff also offered free delivery for patients who didn’t feel comfortable leaving their homes—particularly in the early days when information was scarce. When the COVID-19 vaccine became available, Fader knew many elderly patients wouldn’t be able to travel far to receive it. Rather than let this large subset of Bushard’s customers go unattended, she worked with the city to open a vaccine clinic across the street from the pharmacy.

Bushard’s was one of the first pharmacies to receive an allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. During the early days of the vaccination process, Kelley De La Fuente, Bushard’s AmerisourceBergen and Good Neighbor Pharmacy business coach, proved invaluable in answering any questions Fader had on a near daily basis.

De La Fuente has been a business coach for Bushard’s since she began her role at AmerisourceBergen 4 years ago. The role, she explained, is a complex one, not only because of the confidentiality required, but also because of the continually shifting needs for each business. She is quick to note that Bushard’s is unique among the pharmacies she works with. Fader and her mother Sheila have a dynamic that allows for quick adjustments and the ability to take on different roles—skills that were crucial during the early days of COVID-19.

De La Fuente is already looking to the future. “What do we do next? How do we keep that momentum going? For me, one of my focuses is on the importance of building an inclusive culture. How do we help customers that we’ve gained? How do we build that culture so they’re comfortable coming back?” she asked. “Whether that be more clinical services [or] furthering the scope of immunizations into travel clinics…the ultimate goal is to help them become as profitable as I can.”

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Members of the Laguna Beach community are more than happy commend Fader and her pharmacy as well. “In comparison to a lot of other pharmacies, these guys do a really high-quality job," said patient and customer Lanny Lewyn, PhD, who creates electronics for projects like the James Webb Space Telescope. "They're interested in taking care of you, and they will spend the time to do that.” He highlighted the staff’s willingness to listen and advise on medications.

Leslie O’Neil and her family, also customers of Bushard’s, consider the pharmacy a part of their circle of friends and family. O’Neil explained that the team is happy to go the extra mile, and that effort isn’t just reserved for customers: O’Neil recalled the devastating Laguna Beach Fire of 1993, when Bushard’s staff ensured that community members were able to receive filled prescriptions with no thought of cost.

Looking to the future, Fader’s plans include offering more vaccines—especially now that more people are resuming travel and that certain vaccines are needed. Fader is also considering adding some wellness events to the Bushard’s calendar to provide health information to the Laguna Beach community.

“The health and well-being of our patients are always the priority. Things are always changing, and we’re willing to adapt to what they need,” she explained. “The biggest thing is to keep supporting our community. That is always our goal, and always something that we’re working on.”

Tune in to the latest episode of Over the Counter for more from pharmacist Marisa Fader.


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