Superstars of community pharmacy

October 8, 2009

Each year, pharmacists who offer special services are recognized by their peers and wholesalers through nominations for Drug Topics' annual Top Independent Pharmacists awards in categories pertaining to service, competition, crisis response, and merchandising/promotion. This year's awards honor pharmacists in Washington State, North Carolina, Illinois, and New York.

Key Points

Independent pharmacies are seeing more competition each year as chain pharmacies pop up across the United States. Owners of independent pharmacies are focusing more every day on niche services as they strive to stand out to customers.

Wholesalers and fellow pharmacists nominate candidates in the following categories:

Exceptional service

Marge McCoy, RPh, and Richard McCoy, RPh. Marge McCoy can spot a case of shingles yards away. She can tell when medication is not going to be enough to help her patients even before they know what's wrong with them. That professional vigilance and willingness to do whatever it takes to serve patient needs are the hallmarks of the services she and her husband provide day in and day out.

The McCoys counsel every patient who comes into the pharmacy on a first visit to fill a prescription. It doesn't matter whether the patient has been taking the medication for 30 years, Marge said. She'll still counsel them. "I don't care whether they're a doctor. It's my job. I won't let them get away without it."

Some pharmacies, she said, try to focus on getting customers in and out as quickly as possible and later brag about convenience. But Lopez Pharmacy tries to get away from the "fast-food medicine" mentality. The McCoys will take as much time with a patient as necessary.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure my customers have the best outcomes," Marge said. She and her husband have delivered medications to senior citizens who are unable to travel and parts for durable medical equipment to patients' homes.

But none of their other services match the care the McCoys give their patients. They know all of them by name and will accompany them, if necessary, to the clinic located behind the pharmacy. "Because we're on an island and medical care is a little bit unique, we're available 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Marge said. "Our doctor will call us at home if he needs something. Patients will call us at home or just stop by our house."