September 15, 2018
What do you think your pharmacy means to your community?
Our hope at the Belew Drug Family of Pharmacies is that we are viewed as a true member of the community. Each of our four locations serves a distinctly different area with its own set of needs and demographics. Our Broadway location, which has been serving the downtown and Uptown North areas of Knoxville for over 53 years, serves a primarily urban clientele. This is a population-dense area and not everyone has their own transportation, so our free delivery service is an essential offering to these patients.
We are a frequent source of pharmacy-related information to patients, medical providers and the media. We have developed the reputation of being available to all members of the community for information and for having the hard-to-find medications that not all pharmacies will stock on a regular basis. Our belief has always been if we are going to call ourselves a drugstore, the place where one can find drugs, and especially because we are so close to hospitals, that we should be able to provide whatever medication a provider might prescribe. Not all of our patients live close to our location, and we need to minimize their trips to and from the pharmacy. Our goal is simply to be considered an active member of our community. This is a relationship between ourselves and the people living in our area, and demands on this relationship are dynamic and ever-changing.
What does your community mean to you?
Our community is the fuel for our fire and our reason for being. The communities we serve have taken care of us for the last 53 years, just as we have cared for them. We don’t view ourselves as separate from the communities; we are contained within them. In most instances our staff members live in the communities we serve, our children go to school with our patients’ children, and many of us attend church in our community. We are a living and breathing thread within the fabric of our communities. We encourage our staff to be consistently engaged within the communities we serve, both at work and at play. Our community is our business.
How does your pharmacy and staff go above and beyond simply filling prescriptions to care for the patients in your community?
The Belew Drug Family of Pharmacies has a combined staff of 48 members, and the employees have grown to be a very diverse set of individuals. With this size and experience, we have developed many interests and have been touched by “life” just as our patients have. With this life experience, our staff members have become involved in many support groups that are common to our patients.
We employ an individual who has intimate knowledge of the recovery community in Knoxville, and in her role as our community care coordinator, she assists members of the community with accessing the many services available in the area to patients and family members with substance use disorders. One of her functions is to be a source of information that patients can understand, breaking down medical terminology into easily digested concepts.
We also employ an RN whose primary function is to onboard patients into our Precision Pak program, packaging at retail for no additional cost. Through this program we are able to get a nurse into a patient’s home when they actually need the care. Our staff recognizes the need to provide access to care where the patient needs the care. It is quite common to see a member of our staff at a community event after hours or on weekends just to be a source of information if one is needed.
How have you and your team incorporated new and innovative practices that differentiate your pharmacy as a leader in patient care?
In addition to the items listed above, we have developed a pharmacist position that is solely responsible for providing on-site annual wellness visits and chronic care management for patients in local physicians’ offices. This is a new direction for us and provides a much-needed service for local providers who are willing to explore what a professional relationship might provide for both of us. The exciting aspect of this relationship is that we provide the care to any patient the physician requests, regardless of whether we have had a pharmacy relationship with that patient in the past. This allows the physician to see another side of what the pharmacy-to-patient relationship can look like. We are quickly becoming an invaluable member of that provider’s care team.
In sum, the thing that separates us regarding patient care is our vision of access to care. Delivery service to a patient’s residence is just the beginning. We have added a synchronization program (EZ-Sync), packaging at retail (Precision Pak), compounding services, specialty pharmacy services and immunization programs, including travel vaccines. Our community care coordinator serves as a liaison between our pharmacy and the recovery population, and our pharmacist in the physician’s office provides a comprehensive approach to independent community pharmacy. Finally, we are very excited about the upcoming launch of our wellness program, to be named soon, which will combine the use of new technology, dietary management and lifestyle modification to provide our patients with a non-pharmacological approach to many chronic illnesses as well as pain management.