David Martin, Heed PR
Early in July, Cempa Community Care cut the ribbon on its new community pharmacy at 1000 E. 3rd Street in Chattanooga. The new pharmacy, open to the general public as well as Cempa’s existing client base, is, in the words of CEO Shannon Stephenson, an example of the organization’s “proactive, patient-centered, spirit…to be a champion for the historically underserved and marginalized communities across our region.”
The leadership team at the award-winning community health organization brought in Patrick Durham to head the new pharmacy, and we had the chance to sit down with him to hear about his goals for the new service and how it will lead to better health outcomes for Chattanoogans.
So, Patrick, you're from the area, correct? Tell us a little bit about your background, where you went to school, and your pharmacy experience.
Yes, I grew up not far too away in South Pittsburg, TN. After graduating high school there, I went on to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before I was accepted into the Mercer University College of Pharmacy in Atlanta. Growing up, I worked at my hometown’s independent pharmacy, and I feel like that experience really shaped my view of a community pharmacy. Once I completed school, I worked at a chain pharmacy for 12 years where I got a lot of business and management experience.
Cempa's pharmacy has only had its doors open for a few weeks now. Share with us why Cempa decided to open a pharmacy and tell us how it will benefit Cempa's current client base as well as the general community.
It has definitely been a busy few weeks so far! We have been in the process of meeting patients and filling their prescriptions while they are here in the office. Many patients have limited transportation and it’s so much easier now that we can meet so many of their healthcare needs in one place. As far as our work with the general community is concerned, Cempa offers reduced copays to patients who meet reduced income requirements, and this would also extend to the pharmacy. This means that many patients who are uninsured could possibly get their insulin and other expensive medications at a fraction of the price they may find somewhere else.
Patrick Durham, Head Pharmacist, Cempa Pharmacy
You've got a lengthy work history in a chain pharmacy setting. How will that experience strengthen your efforts at Cempa, but also, how is your new role different from what you've done in the past?
In the past, I managed roughly a dozen people, and I was responsible for the overall compliance of the pharmacy in regards to the state board and various insurance regulations. This was a good management experience, but it limited the time I could spend on patient care. Here at Cempa, I am going to have a lot more time to follow a smaller number of patients. Whenever you can spend more time talking with patients, it is always better in the long run…for everyone involved.
When you close your eyes and envision the Cempa pharmacy in, say, 5 years from now, what will success look like by that point?
While I'm sure we will have grown by then, success depends on the outcomes of the patients. We hope, by bringing everything under one roof, there will be much better communication between all providers, whether that's between the pharmacist, dietitian, doctors, nurses, etc. In my previous work experience, I would only receive a prescription and try to work from there. Now, everyone here has access to the bigger picture, and it’s easier to make an informed decision.
We hear the phrase “full circle of care” a lot in the healthcare world. How does the new pharmacy round that out for Cempa, and what excites you about that the most?
Cempa has offered many services throughout the years, including transportation to and from the clinic, dietitian counseling, testing and prevention, as well as primary healthcare services. But until recently, clients always had to go somewhere else to fill their prescriptions. By opening our own pharmacy, we’ve eliminated that barrier, therefore ensuring patients have access to the entirety of their healthcare needs — the “circle of care” — in one place, and hopefully a more seamless experience. I’m really excited to be here meeting patients who are new to me and talking with them about everything we can offer them.
To learn more about the new Cempa pharmacy, visit https://cempa.org/pharmacy/.