Kevin Wood, talks about the business, benefits and challenges of co-owning and operating a pharmacy

Monday, September 19, 2011
Kevin Wood is a pharmacist and co-owner at Broadway Prescription Shop in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Broadway Prescription Shop is a Cape Girardeau institution. Homer George opened the pharmacy at the corner of Broadway and Sprigg Street in 1932, making it the oldest pharmacy in the city. Earlier this year, Kevin Wood and Lee Schlitt bought the pharmacy, maintaining its legacy while offering the most up-to-date products and services. Wood, a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University and South University School of Pharmacy in Savannah, Ga., previously was the pharmacy manager at Target in Cape Girardeau. Here, he talks about being a downtown business owner, pseudoephedrine restrictions and prescription plans.

@briefs_body copy:Business Today: What differences have you found between working for someone else and owning your own pharmacy?

Kevin Wood: I enjoy having the ability to make effective changes to our business as we anticipate the need. This allows me to react quicker to the evolving needs of our patients and continue to provide a higher quality of service. For example, we recently began offering special packaging that helps people who are taking several medications to minimize the risk of error. The packages are delivered with the medications in bubble packs that indicate days of the week and times during the day versus having all the medications in bottles or in a box. This was the result of learning that several patients were having problems maintaining their daily medication requirements with consistency. It helps eliminate errors and will help patients live a healthier life.

BT: Broadway Prescription is the oldest pharmacy in Cape Girardeau. How do you balance preserving its past with improving for the future?

Wood: We preserve our past by carrying on the same standard of service that the original owner delivered. When you come into Broadway you will see the same faces that have been here for years; we call our customers by name and know their medical needs. There is a story about this service. During the snowstorm of 1979 one of the previous owners, Milton George, had deliveries that needed to be made to nursing homes and customers. Many pharmacies were closed and travel was very difficult. Milton called the only person he knew with a four-wheel drive, Charlie Hutson, and they made the deliveries. We continue to offer this same service to preserve our past, yet it doesn't restrict us from offering the most up-to-date products and services. We strive to be on the cutting edge.

BT: What plans do you have for the pharmacy?

Wood: We want Broadway to be your wellness destination and to help you live the best life you possibly can. If you are looking for prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, we can help find the best solution. If you are in need of a weight loss or healthy eating plan, we have options for you. If there is product that you cannot find anywhere, we will find it for you. If you are adding the role of caregiver for a loved one to the many hats you already wear, we can make this process easier for you. Customers guide us in the direction we will go in the future. We are listening and will provide the best service available.

BT: You participated in Old Town Cape's Operation Main Street business classes. What benefits and challenges are there to being a downtown business?

Wood: I think downtown businesses are faced with the same challenges as any business. There are benefits and struggles in any industry or geographical location. We are rooted in the downtown and love the area where we are located. As strong supporters of Old Town Cape we look forward to the street improvements that are coming up. The benefits are evident by our long-standing role of nearly 80 years in the community, which plays directly into the role of downtown Cape as part of our heritage while incorporating the latest trends and customer needs.

BT: We're closing in on a year since Cape Girardeau began requiring prescriptions for medications containing pseudoephedrine. Has that created problems for you or your customers?

Wood: It has made getting pseudoephedrine less convenient for individuals who are not abusing it. Although I hate that we are punishing everyone for the wrongdoing of a few, the law has made our community much safer and healthier. When the state reporting tool revealed that the two stores with the highest pseudoephedrine sales were in Cape Girardeau, it presented an issue. I have definitely seen a decrease in sales and seekers coming into the pharmacy.

BT: More and more Missouri cities have enforced similar ordinances and there's an effort to create a state law. Do you think requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine is working the way it is intended?

Wood: I truly believe the law is making an impact and is good for our community. We experienced many people from even hundreds of miles away who were specifically asking for pseudoephedrine. As soon as the awareness of this law spread, the incidence of walk-ins for this medication significantly decreased. I think people who truly need this medication for medical reasons understand the benefit to the community despite the additional steps they must take to obtain the medication. As a person who suffers from allergies, I understand if there is frustration in those who legitimately need the relief this medication can provide, but am supportive of the restrictions.

BT: This summer Gov. Jay Nixon extended the state's prescription plan, Missouri Rx, for another three years. What are your thoughts on the plan?

Wood: Even with insurance, medication costs can be overwhelming for many people. This program helps Missouri residents with Medicare Part D in need of assistance by covering 50 percent of their out-of-pocket costs. Missouri Rx is a great program to assist seniors who may otherwise go without their medications. Hopefully this keeps the person healthy longer while decreasing overall medical costs.

BT: What questions are you most frequently asked about Missouri Rx or Medicare Part D?

Wood: The most common question from customers is about which Medicare Part D plan they should sign up for. We are lucky enough to have a billing specialist with 20-plus years of pharmacy experience who helps our patients with these programs. Melissa meets privately with customers and goes over their specific situation and which plan would best fit their needs. Then she takes this personalized service one step further. After you choose which plan is best for you she can assist you in getting enrolled.

BT: How do you think the pharmaceutical field will change in the next 10 years or so?

Wood: Pharmacists are becoming more involved with customers' health care needs, thus becoming even more of a valued member of the health care team. The role continues to evolve toward becoming more educational, helping to monitor and navigate all of the "potholes" that can hinder the goal of keeping our patients living their best life. Pharmacists are your medication experts. I am always happy to discuss questions or concerns people have about their medications and there is no charge to call or come by.

I also see people returning to their community pharmacy. There are very real benefits to going to a pharmacy where your health and medical conditions are known. There are many advantages to having a consistent person looking after your health, and some pharmacies are unable to provide this level of consistent service, including mail order pharmacies.

BT: What do you enjoy most about your job?

Wood: Being able to interact with our patients is the most rewarding part of my day. We get to know the people we serve and their families. I love being the person they come to with questions or sometimes just to bring brownies. When I make a suggestion to a patient and they call or come in and tell me how it helped them, how something I did made their health and life better, that is a great feeling and why I became a pharmacist.

BT: What's the most challenging part of your job?

Wood: Dealing with insurance companies is by far the most challenging part of my job. It is a serious flaw in our system when three large companies control your health. These insurance companies own their own mail order pharmacies and possess too much power. Many times pharmacists and physicians are forced to change prescriptions because an insurance company suggests that a person change their medication because it is cheaper. I don't feel these companies should have more say in your health care than your personal physician or pharmacist.

BT: What do you do in your spare time? Are you involved with any community groups?

Wood: In my spare time I enjoy boating and fishing along with spending time with family and friends, especially my 5-year-old niece Riley. I am a graduate of the Cape Chamber's Leadership Cape program, involved in the National Community Pharmacy Association and South College of Pharmacy Alumni Association.

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