by Paula M. Riley
Carl Dean, R.Ph., grew up just blocks away from the Chestnut Hill Pharmacy. One of nine children raised on West Meade Street, he recalls childhood days running through the aisles of Kilian’s and spending afternoons at the Water Tower. The Erdenheim resident is thrilled to be back in the neighborhood as manager of the Chestnut Hill Pharmacy.
Located at 8030 Germantown Ave., the new pharmacy opened its doors on November 1. Dean spent much of last week shaking hands with locals who came to welcome him to the neighborhood, and visiting with friends who stopped in, including some buddies from kindergarten.
He tells of an elderly woman who came by, promising to bring him her prescriptions.
“She told me she didn’t want to walk down ‘mile-long’ aisles (at the big pharmacies),” Dean said. “She wanted a place that was smaller, friendlier and remembered who she was.”
This customer’s word describes what owner Mark Lawson, R.Ph., believes to be the true value of a small, independent pharmacy.
“At an independent pharmacy we develop professional and personal relationships with our customers,” he said “We have a vested interest in their health and wellness and, hopefully, they have a vested interest in us as they come to rely on our service.”
Lawson, who also owns an independent pharmacy in Delaware County, explains that as the role of pharmacist has grown, so too has the need for independent pharmacies.
“The role has expanded to much more than just dispensing prescriptions,” he said. “Pharmacists help customers with disease management (i.e., diabetes and high blood pressure) and work more closely with their physicians to get better outcomes for the customers.”
The key to this success, Lawson suggested, is the pharmacist’s relationships with his or her patients. In selecting Dean for his Chestnut Hill location, Lawson couldn’t have made a better choice.
The father of two grown daughters, Dean has spent his entire life in and around Chestnut Hill. His affable manner puts customers at ease, making even uncomfortable conversations about health conditions relaxed.
Like Lawson, Dean believes that independent pharmacies do a better job of meeting customer needs than the corporate chains. Since graduating from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (now the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia) in the 1970s, Dean has worked in small pharmacies in the region including Perkel Pharmacy in Oreland, which he owned and operated for 14 years.
Once a pharmacist at Reese’s Pharmacy, Dean’s earliest pharmacy job was as the delivery boy for Hilton Drugs (located where Omaha Steaks is now). He recalls how much the customers loved the delivery service and is happy that Chestnut Hill Pharmacy will also offer free delivery to local customers.
“We are glad to do delivery and hopefully this will help us to get know everyone,” he said.
When asked about the hours or terms of delivery, he responds with the eagerness and sincerity that make him so approachable.
“We’re flexible,” he said. “We will probably do delivery runs a few times a day, but basically will do whatever you [customers] need us to do.”
He makes this promise not just in service but in price.
“We will match your cash prescription price with anyone,” he added.
Mostly though, he emphasizes that he wants people to come into the pharmacy to see who they are, say “hello” and consider filling their prescriptions there.
In addition to the usual prescriptions, Dean explains that he is able to do compounded prescriptions and that switching pharmacies is a simple process. A new prescription is not required. All that is needed is for the customer to bring a medicine box or bottles into his pharmacy. Dean will contact the original pharmacy to make the transfer. And, because he works through a wholesaler, he accepts “thousands of insurance plans.”
With the goal of providing personal services, Chestnut Hill Pharmacy will offer flu and other travel vaccinations as well.
“Instead of having to wait at their doctors’ offices,” Lawson said, “our customers can just pop into their local pharmacy and get what they need quickly.”
Shelves will stock boxed candy, stuffed animals, greeting cards and personal beauty items including Crabtree & Evelyn lotions. An old-fashioned Coke machine and individual-cup coffee maker makes every customer experience an enjoyable one.
Durable medical equipment will also be sold at the pharmacy.
“It goes hand-in-hand with those who need medications,” Lawson explained. “It’s what being an independent pharmacy is – we want to be their one-stop shop.”
Chestnut Hill Pharmacy is located at 8030 Germantown Avenue and open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and first Fridays until 8 p.m. Call 215-247-1221 or fax prescriptions to 215-247-1179.