Neil Grice, owner and operator of The Pharmacotherapy Center in the West Town Shopping Center on Washington Road, checks Chris Gurleys blood pressure.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Personalized care from a full-service pharmacy is almost a thing of the past. One local pharmacist, however, is hoping to change that with the opening of his Martinez business.
"We are a pharmaceutical therapy center that offers a full-size pharmacy, medical equipment and supplies and patient consultation," said pharmacist Neil Grice, owner and operator of The Pharmacotherapy Center in the West Town Shopping Center on Washington Road.
The 2,350-square-foot business houses The Martinez Apothecary, a full-service pharmacy, and offers for sale a full line of medical supplies and equipment. Along with Kay's Pharmacy in Harlem and The Medicine Cabinet in Martinez, The Pharmacotherapy Center becomes the third independent pharmacy to open in Columbia County amid a sea of national-chain drug stores.
"The chain and retail stores don't really hurt us," said Pharmacist Darwin Morris, owner of Kay's Pharmacy. "We can offer a lot of extras that the chain stores can't. The worst thing we have to contend with is mail order."
The Pharmacotherapy Center will offer health screenings and patient consultation, just as The Medicine Cabinet does.
"We offer blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings by appointment," said Grice, who has worked in hospital and retail settings as a pharmacist for 14 years.
Providing a more personalized service is the key to operating an independent pharmacy, their owners say.
"We can always provide that extra customer service," said Alan Partridge, owner of The Medicine Cabinet, which will celebrate 29 years in Columbia County this summer. "We offer night call, drive-in window and know most of our customers by first name."
Partridge said independent pharmacies must be willing to embrace new practices, such as patient consultation, to maintain a higher level of customer service.
"I don't usually have a problem with the chain stores," Partridge said. "It's no so much about the competition. What people don't realize is that low insurance compensation has caused independent pharmacies to go by the wayside."
Patient consultation is a new avenue of service being offered by independent pharmacies.
"We have a patient consultation room on site and provide medication consultation and diabetes, asthma and immunization consultation," said Grice, who is board-certified in geriatric pharmacy and is a disease manager in diabetes, asthma and anticoagulation care. Grice, who earned his bachelor and doctorate degrees in pharmacy from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, also has completed post-graduate training programs in osteoporosis care, immunization delivery and hypertension.
Mornings at The Pharmacotherapy Center are kept open for patient consultations, and the apothecary and supply business is open from noon to 6:30 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
"Our focus is on patient care and working with physicians on improving outcomes," Grice said. "We work to educate our customers on medications and medical problems to better help them manage their disease."
Columbia County's independent pharmacies:
The Martinez Apothecary, West Town Shopping Center, Martinez, 210-6654
Kay's Pharmacy, 203 N. Louisville St., Harlem, 556-6231
The Medicine Cabinet, 3957 Columbia Road, Martinez, 863-4162
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