The Apothecary Shoppe: An Inner-City Success Story

Published - Written by Bruce Kneeland

The Salt Lake metropolitan area is home to nearly 1.3 million people. The Apothecary Shoppe, located in the densely populated northeastern section of the city, is not far from the famous Mormon Temple, the State Capitol and the campus of the University of Utah. The area is home to students, well-to-do business owners and professionals, and a large percentage of the city’s poor, chronically ill and homeless population.  

The pharmacy itself is housed in the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. Kevin DeMass, R.Ph., is the owner and leader of a talented team of professionals who deal with a wide variety of patients, ailments and medications. DeMass is a pleasant, outgoing and charismatic induvial who accepts the challenges of an inner-city pharmacy with a big smile and the tenacity to find ways to provide people with the medications they need while still generating the revenue necessary to stay open.  

For example, due to his location and the mission of the hospital, The Apothecary Shoppe treats many patients suffering from mental and behavioral health conditions as well as the social and economic challenges these patients face. 

To help with these challenges, DeMass was part of a team of healthcare professionals, social workers and religious leaders who worked with the Valley Mental Health Clinic 20 years ago. The team provided professional services to patients and then, as part of their treatment, wrote prescriptions for these patients that were filled by The Apothecary Shoppe.

The pharmacy kept in close contact with the providers and worked diligently to counsel and help patients stay on therapy. As part of this process, The Apothecary Shoppe become an early adopter of compliance packaging. A few years ago, the clinic established a 340B program and DeMass unfortunately no longer services the program. 

DeMass attended a medical symposium sponsored by the Utah Pharmacy Association and heard a pharmacist discussing the benefits of Naloxone in preventing deaths from opioid abuse. The idea that such a simple treatment could save so many lives captured his attention. 

After the presentation, DeMass struck up a relationship with the presenter and agreed to participate in an effort to obtain grants to purchase Naloxone kits. DeMass said he has dispensed nearly 1,000 kits to patients or their caregivers. Although the kits are paid for by a grant, DeMass said each kit is dispensed with a 20- to 30-minute private training session. As part of the program, DeMass donates his time to provide the training.

Going back to the 1980s, DeMass was, due in part to his location, an early provider of medications to those suffering from HIV/AIDS. 

“Back in the early days there was not much that could be done, medication-wise, to treat this devastating illness,” DeMass said.

However, he said the most important thing the pharmacy did was accept patients other pharmacies were reluctant to serve and treat them with dignity and compassion. 

Fortunately, due to a massive response to the epidemic, successful pharmaceutical treatments have emerged. Today, DeMass said his youngest HIV patient is 13 years of age and he has another patient he has served for decades who is 84 years of age. 

To be clear, The Apothecary Shoppe fills hundreds of prescriptions each day for all kinds of medical conditions. The pharmacy is exceptionally clean and the staff dresses in a professional manner. The pharmacists wear button down dress shirts with The Apothecary Shoppe logo embroidered on them, while other team members wear business attire. Everyone wears a name tag that clearly identifies their role in the pharmacy. 

The pharmacy provides medication synchronization and convenience/compliance packaging. It specializes in immunizations and even has a special program to help foster parents get all the shots they need to provide care for the kids in the program. This even includes providing all the necessary documentation that families may need. 

The pharmacy is supported by a variety of technology, including an Rx 30 pharmacy system that interacts with a VoIP telephone/IVR system, an AutoMed robot, an EyeCon and a Kirby Lester pill counter. DeMass also uses The Digital Pharmacist to support his website and mobile app and improves patient compliance by using several PrescribeWellness patient care modules. 

 

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