As Mary Poppins once famously noted, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” But anyone who has tried to fill a prescription any time in recent history will tell you, it also takes a lot more than a spoonful of money just to purchase the medicine in the first place. Between 2014 and 2020, drug prices have increased a whopping 33%.
For the millions of us who can’t afford those prices, the expensiveness of medications has meant that some don’t fill their prescriptions, while others take them less frequently than prescribed in an effort to make them last longer. It’s a problem that can be nothing less than life-threatening for those with chronic health issues like cardiovascular disease, hypertension or asthma.
Recognizing the need for better compliance with prescription medication orders, GraceMed established our first in-house pharmacy in 2017. “It really does no good at all to prescribe a treatment for a patient, if the patient isn’t able to comply with it,” said Dr. Julie Elder, Chief Medical Officer. “So a key objective of the decision to open a pharmacy was able to offer the discounted pricing available to our patients. But there is also a benefit in terms of being able to collaborate with our own pharmacist to ensure the best outcome for the patient.”
The first pharmacy was opened in our Helen Galloway Clinic, just north of Ascension Via Christi St. Francis campus in Wichita. But the intention was to offer additional locations at a future date. When GraceMed acquired a former grocery store in Topeka, we were pleasantly surprised to find it already had facilities for a pharmacy still preserved in the building.
“It was in a good location just off the clinic entrance,” Chad Sanford, GraceMed Facilities Director recalled. “Our immediate focus was on building out the clinic for medical, dental and vision services. But it was nice to know we already had the makings of a pharmacy standing by for when the time was right to be able to add that to the clinic.”
One issue that needed to be confronted was funding because the dollars required to renovate and open a new pharmacy needed to be raised for the Capitol Family Clinic. “We were blessed to have Security Benefit Corporation step forward and offer to provide funding for the pharmacy,” said Nancy Duling, GraceMed Development Director. “They saw the benefit to the community and wanted to help us make it happen.”
The just completed pharmacy at our Capitol Family Clinic is projected to serve more than 4,000 patients a year. “Community health centers like GraceMed see a lot of patients who can have pretty serious, chronic health problems,” said Andre Pretorius, pharmacist at our Helen Galloway location. “If we can provide a way for them to afford their medications, we can make an enormous difference in their long-term health.”
Flash back now to the spring of 2017 when GraceMed’s Ablah Family Clinic was opening in the southwest corner of Wichita. As complete and impressive as the new 15,600 square-foot facility was, there was one part of the floor plan left unfinished. The space was devoted to a pharmacy that is now in the process of completion.
“Offering an in-house pharmacy was just something new for us,” Chad explained. “We knew about providing healthcare, but really, we needed to phase into the pharmacy business, and Helen Galloway location gave us the beta experience to be able to grow into these new locations.”
Scheduled for completion in the fall of this year, the pharmacy at our Ablah clinic is also projected to serve more than 4,000 patients a year.
Patients from the other 10 locations in Wichita as well as Clearwater and McPherson can take advantage of the discount pricing available through our Helen Galloway and Ablah pharmacies, while patients at our Highland Park Clinic in Topeka can take advantage of the Capitol Clinic location.
This post originated in our State of Grace quarterly news magazine. If you would like to receive the magazine, please visit this link and give us your information. Thanks!