Pharmacist: Theresa Tolle
Pharmacy: Bay Street Pharmacy
City, State: Sebastian, Florida
What led you to a career in independent pharmacy?
Math and science were my favorite subjects, so I was interested in pursuing a degree in the medical field. My aunt is a pharmacist, so I knew something about the career through her. And, growing up working in a small business in a small town made me want to pursue becoming an independent pharmacy owner so I could take care of patients the way they deserve to be taken care of.
What makes your pharmacy standout from the competition?
I like to point to our tagline, "Where caring people care for you." I think our patients feel that they are special here. We get to know them one-on-one and we spend time with them counselling, providing MTM, immunizations, custom compounded medications, DNA testing for drug interactions, durable medical equipment and many other things. We are very involved in the community through the chamber, Relay for Life, community presentations, etc. so they know us and recognize us. We try to make them feel like family!
What are your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenges this year have been declining gross profit margins, particularly related to the escalating generic pricing and the lagging MAC updates. In addition, try to compete with the Medicare Part D preferred networks and if possible, be a preferred pharmacy in those networks. But, it is a careful balance to keep patients coming through the door, without giving things away! We are working to diversify to areas that are less insurance driven such as compounding and durable medical equipment sales.
Are you active in the community and, if so, how?
Currently I am the immediate past Chair of the Sebastian Chamber of Commerce. I am also on the American Cancer Society Treasure Coast Volunteer Leadership Council and the Board of Trustees of Sebastian River Medical Center. And, I do teach a children's Sunday School class weekly at my church.
Describe a recent, rewarding experience with a patient:
I had to work on a Saturday and a mom came in who had a sick 4 year old child with acute asthma. The child was on a Medicaid HMO plan which typically would allow him to get the medication here but require him to have the nebulizer mailed to his home several days later! When we ran the prescription, the plan required a hand held inhaler instead of nebulizer medication. So, did I teach this mom how to use an inhaler with her 4 year old? NO! Because I have the autonomy to "call the shots" as an owner, I donated a nebulizer and nebulizer medications to this family. I greeted a sobbing mom with this news and I had a follow-up call from her pediatrician and a neighbor the next week thanking me for what I did! I now have a very loyal family as customers and who knows what other business will be referred to us by the pediatrician and/or neighbor? I don't say this to brag. I say this because there is nothing more rewarding than simply being able to "do the right thing" as a business owner for a patient in need! I could not have done that if I was employed by someone else. I am grateful that God has given me this platform in my community to help those in need.
How has NCPA helped your business?
NCPA is the FIRST place I refer any potential new independent owner to! They have so resources from Ownership Workshops, to policies and procedures, to connecting buyers and sellers, to legislative information, to valuation, etc. Their annual meetings are full of valuable continuing education, networking and new business opportunities. I really don't know how a pharmacy business owner survives without being a member of NCPA!