Whatever It Takes

Published on 20 March 2017

Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy in Desloge, Missouri, feels different than most. When patients walk through the door, they enter a cozy seating area with contemporary decor that feels like home. They are also welcomed by a caring staff whose interest extends beyond their medications. The pharmacy is an organization built on a dedication to patients - a value that can be seen in its mission, to improve the health of patients and positively impact the communities it serves, as well as the culture of care, “whatever it takes.”

Founded in 2005 by Lisa Umfleet ’96, R.Ph., CDE, CGP, Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy has grown to include two additional locations, in Fredericktown and Ironton, Missouri. In partnership with fellow alumnus Jeremy Leach ’04, who joined the business in 2012, Umfleet strikes a balance between management and staffing, tending to the needs of the business as well as her patients.

How do you balance your roles as business owner and staff pharmacist?

I work full time, but I try to split my time between management and staffing. I like focusing on patient care activities, but being a business owner requires many hats to be worn. My responsibilities include everything, but I’m not afraid to delegate responsibilities. I enjoy working behind the counter, and I am always striving to find the right balance between owner and pharmacist. As a business owner, I try to recognize my weaknesses. You cannot do it all. I have a strong leadership team and a great, experienced staff. They make my job easy. I can rely on them to keep the business moving, which allows me to get out of the pharmacy, teach monthly diabetes classes, run flu shot clinics, work on marketing projects, and still make it home to have family time.

How has your business evolved?

I opened my store in Desloge in 2005. It was successful and I knew it could grow. Then, Jeremy Leach and I met through a mutual friend and pharmacy technician Debbie Hamby, who is now our business manager, and decided to partner on a second location in Fredericktown, Missouri. That store opened in 2012 and the following year, we opened the third location in Ironton, Missouri. Jeremy and I have a great business relationship, and we try to maintain a dedicated meeting time. Every few weeks, we have a breakfast meeting to ensure we are addressing business issues, brainstorming on marketing and focusing on improving patient outcomes. This is our time to work on the business instead of working in the business.

How do you approach the integration of technology?

I always look for a more efficient way to accomplish something. That may only require a small change to streamline workflow, but it can also mean integrating automation, such as Parata PASS compliance packaging or automated dispensing using the Parata MAX. We recently made a complete change of our pharmacy software and it was tough! We completed the migration in January, and we are starting to see a return on new operational efficiencies. The automated medication synchronization is smooth and allows us to build more time for clinical activities. It helps us get our medication therapy management appointments completed, screen for vaccines and identify compliance packaging candidates who may need extra help remembering medications.

How do you maintain a focus on innovation?

We have invested in technology to improve our processes and services, and we have seen the benefits. Our staff knows that we are always looking for the best way to get something done, and we want them to identify areas where we can do better. In fact, many of the changes we have made in the pharmacy come from employee suggestions or the anonymous “idea jar” which encourages employee feedback.

How do you see your role as a pharmacy owner in a rural community?

Our work in the community has a direct impact on our patients, and we approach our role with a strong sense of responsibility. Our county, St. Francois, is ranked No. 101 out of 114 counties in health rankings. Working with the local health department, we participate in the St. Francois County Health Coalition, raising awareness of heart disease and healthy living.

In each of the communities we serve, we proudly offer a comprehensive suite of services including pharmaceutical care services, medication therapy management, medication synchronization, 340B and Medicare Part D counseling, diabetes counseling, long-term care service, medication deliveries and immunizations.

When we remodeled the pharmacy, we also added a private consultation area. One day each week, we have a nurse on-site to meet with patients and provide blood pressure and blood sugar checks. Providing rural patients with access to a wide range of services is an important part of what we do. Outside the pharmacy, we are working to provide education in our communities. We host monthly diabetes classes and wellness classes focusing on topics such as smoking cessation and weight loss. We recently partnered with our local hospital to teach classes on heart failure and COPD.

Umfleet’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. In both 2014 and 2015, she received the Missouri Pharmacy Association (MPA) President’s Appreciation Award. She currently serves on the MPA Board of Directors, a role that has provided insights into the importance of advocacy on behalf of the profession. In 2013, McKesson Corporation named Parkland Health Mart Pharmacy the Pharmacy of the Year, citing its early adoption of medication synchronization and the American Association of Diabetes Educators’ accreditation of the pharmacy’s diabetes education program, Partners in Diabetes Care and Healthy Living as distinctions setting the pharmacy apart. Umfleet joined the McKesson National Independent Advisory Board and has served on the Speakers’ Bureau for three years speaking at Health Mart Town Hall meetings.

This story was first published in the fall 2016 issue of Script. Visit stlcop.edu/script to read more and access previous issues.

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