NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every Friday.

A posthumous thank you | NCPA Executive Update | May 27, 2016

by NCPA | May 27, 2016

May 27, 2016

Eternal Thanks

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

Terry Kepka, owner of Seitz Drug, often has been thanked for the great personalized care he and his staff give to the people of Ellsworth, Kan. All of those thank-yous were from living people. That is no longer the case. Imagine Kepka's surprise when he received a thank-you note from a patient who had recently died.

"We've received thank-yous from customers before—whether it be a card, something they had baked, or vegetables from their garden. But I was shocked when this card came in the mail," Kepka said. "She had asked that the card be mailed after she passed away."

"Mrs. Smith" (not her real name) was a longtime customer of Seitz Drug. Kepka said she was someone he had taken care of for many years, but that could describe dozens if not hundreds of patients at his pharmacy.

"For community pharmacies, the people who come into our pharmacy aren't just customers, they're family. We celebrate their success and cry at their losses. The customers become part of your extended family. That's just how things are in a small town," he said.

That is just how things are in independent community pharmacies. Whether in small towns, big cities, or sprawling suburbs, the customers and the pharmacy staff are both people in the community. They have a connection that often spans generations. And, in this case, a connection until the very end.

Kepka said that "Mrs. Smith" was a God-fearing, church-going, sweet lady so that made her reaction to a WalMart Neighborhood store moving into town even more notable. When it was suggested to her that the new store might hurt Seitz Drug, her uncharacteristic response was, "They can kiss my (buttocks)." The WalMart Neighborhood store closed in January — 7 months after it opened.

While Kepka obviously knew "Mrs. Smith" as a regular patient, her level of passion for the pharmacy was "all news to me," he said. "All of this—the reaction to the WalMart Neighborhood store, obviously the thank you card—I found out after the fact. I guess you never know how much you touch a person's life."

For someone to make sure a final thank you was sent as one of part of their last order of business was a new one on him. "Receiving a posthumous thank you card set me back. It was totally unexpected and kind of brought a tear to my eye," Kepka said.

Independent community pharmacies impact millions of Americans every day. Many times the difference these pharmacies make goes without thanks. But for "Mrs. Smith" her appreciation for the care her independent pharmacy gave her is eternal.

Doug Hoey

P.S. Last month, I wrote about Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) ("Help a PBM Warrior", one of community pharmacy's strongest supporters, facing a tough primary battle. The primary was May 24 and Collins won! He now goes into the November election unopposed. Thanks to all who helped make his win possible.