by Jeremy Jones
Covering Chestnut Hill Pharmacy for our Shop Local column wasn’t on my mind when I stopped in recently to purchase greeting cards. This is my secret source for a great selection of cards, priced at just $2. What I overheard and observed as I was spinning the card rack, inspired me.
On the phone from behind the counter, Megan Gill, registered pharmacist and co-owner/manager, was saying, “… so we can save you a trip.”
Pharmacy associate Trish Stein handed a woman her prescription, and said, “Feel better, okay.”
Another woman rushed in to pick up a prescription, and while Trish was pulling her order, the woman said, “Richard is waiting in the car. We’re on our way to the shore. The little ones will be there.” She quickly picked up a “Sorry” board game, a handful of small stuffed animals, sunscreen, a bunch of “Honest Kids” organic juice-drink packs from the cooler, and, upon checking out in mere minutes, she said, “Thank God. What would I do without you?”
The friendly and inviting chalk board at the entrance of Chestnut Hill Pharmacy, 8030 Germantown Ave., reads: “Stop in and let us know how we can be your pharmacy.” What I had just witnessed, was evidence that message could not be more sincere.
A small and veritable Mom & Pop drugstore, Chestnut Hill Pharmacy opened in 2010 against all odds, in the shadow of Walgreen’s in Flourtown and CVS just a few blocks down the Hill.
Gill came on board as manager in 2012. When owner Mark Lawson decided to give up the venture, Gill realized, “It’s not going to stay here if we don’t buy it.” So, in January of this year, Gill and her husband, Raj Patell, also a registered pharmacist, went out on a limb of good faith and good conscience, and acquired ownership.
“I really want to see this place become ‘your pharmacy,’” said Gill. “I want it to be the neighborhood pharmacy. I want it to be what people want it to be.
“It’s common for us to hear: ‘You know I can’t believe you remembered my name,’ or ‘Please tell me you have this prescription. I keep getting the runaround.’ It surprises me that people are surprised to be treated well when, in reality, it’s common courtesy, professionalism – things people should expect.”
Actually, the folks at CH Pharmacy go beyond what is expected, especially in terms of hands-on service. To offset and balance out their hours of operation (Mon.-Friday, 9-7, Saturday, 9-3, closed Sundays), free local delivery is available for customers near and far.
“We don’t ever want customers to feel that they can’t get their medication,” said Gill, who makes it a policy to give customers her cell phone number.
Gill recounted the story of a local woman who had just returned home from the hospital after having surgery, and needed her prescriptions filled. She had never used CH Pharmacy but heard they delivered.
“She was very apologetic, saying, ‘I assume this is out of the ordinary and I know this is asking the impossible, but could you come by and pick up my prescriptions and fill them?’ Gill picked up the prescriptions, filled them and delivered them to the woman who is now a faithful customer.
I spoke with Kilian Fritsch’s whose wife has had Parkinson’s disease for 20 years.
“We have a complicated regimen of medications; some are not easily available,” said Fritsch. “I was able to set up a relationship with the pharmacy where we are able to regularize a pattern of filling prescriptions properly, accurately and on different schedules so that my wife is free from the anxiety of wondering whether or not the next batch is going to be supplied on time. They’ve made her life so much better.”
As an aid in the medication compliance and adherence program, CH Pharmacy custom- makes individualized medication “blister” packets specific to a customer’s medication needs, to help them and their caregivers stay on track with administering proper doses of meds in an acutely organized system that reduces the risk of a missed or incorrect dose.
Should you wish to transfer your current prescriptions to CH Pharmacy, the transaction can be done within the day. In accordance with Pennsylvania pharmacy law, Gill or Patell will verbally contact your current pharmacy and request the transfer.
A member of the Chestnut Hill Rotary, Gill was elected to the board of the CHBA this past May. She is also a member of the Chestnut Hill Healthcare Consortium, which recently hosted a program on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia at Chestnut Hill Hospital.
“We are very interested in the people and the community,” said Gill “It doesn’t feel right to call our patrons ‘customers’ or ‘patients.’ We see them as friends, family.”
On most weekends, the family neighborhood drugstore theme rings true as Gill and Patell’s teenaged children, Kelly and Patrick, help out at the register, while their dog Didi takes in the scene and enjoys being part of it all.