BRATLEBORO – Having served the area since 2010, Brattleboro Pharmacy will close on March 22 and sell its business to Rite Aid.
“We have reached an agreement with Rite Aid to take delivery of our prescription files starting March 23,” says an announcement posted Monday, “and all prescriptions currently residing with us will be available for filling out at Rite’s headquarters. Aid at 499 Canal St There will be no interruption of anyone’s prescription service.
Arun Patel, director of pharmacy acquisitions, said the prescriptions will be transferred and that “everything will be perfect”.
“Over the years we have built a supportive and collaborative relationship with Brattleboro Pharmacy with a shared goal of serving the health needs of the community,” said Terri Hickey, director of public relations at Rite Aid. “We are committed to continuing the strong relationship Brattleboro Pharmacy has with the community and we look forward to welcoming these new customers and helping them achieve complete health for a lifetime. We are also offering Brattleboro Pharmacy employees opportunities to upgrade to Rite Aid. “
The pharmacy is owned by Montpelier Pharmacy Inc., a partnership between Andy Miller, Rich Harvie and Jocelyn Depaolis. They also owned Montpelier Pharmacy and Waterbury Pharmacy, which were sold around 2017.
They feel that Rite Aid will take care of customers the way they are used to being treated at the Brattleboro Pharmacy.
“I think Rite Aid is a great choice and I think they will invest in their store infrastructure, patients and employees,” Miller said.
His group described the decision to sell the business as “not easy … but well thought out”.
“We looked for a pharmacy that was best suited to accommodate our customers and our patient-centered philosophy at Brattleboro Pharmacy,” said the group.
Miller did not disclose the purchase price and said the details are confidential.
His group was proud to have served the area and to have been able to “do this only with the support of our employees and our customers. We are honored by the loyalty and trust that customers have placed in the Brattleboro Pharmacy as they are not only customers but also our neighbors and friends. “
Harvie said his group has received several offers, almost all financially equal. He called Rite Aid “the best solution”.
“We just felt that Rite Aid seemed to be doing a better job for all of our customers and employees as far as the transition was pretty smooth,” he said.
Harvie lives in Florida with his wife. They sold their home in East Montpelier in the summer.
“I retired about five years ago and I can honestly say that there hasn’t been a single day in my life that I went to work and I didn’t enjoy going to work,” said Harvie. “I enjoyed helping people. This is what made it very special to me, and I miss people. But I have to tell you, I really like waking up in the morning and planning the day I want for myself. It is much more beautiful.
Harvie does not fail to wake up at 6 am and work 12 hours a day.
Miller, who lives in Brattleboro, isn’t sure what will happen to him. For starters, he wants to spend more time on beekeeping and gardening.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years now, believe it or not,” he said he was a pharmacist. “There is a lot of dedication and many hours. I am tired. This is a brutal profession on your body.
Since becoming a pharmacist, Miller has had seven orthopedic surgeries, including two hip replacements. He also sees a lot of stress in the field of health care in general.
“I think we are probably one of the most accessible healthcare providers of the period,” he said. “If you are involved in your community, you are also very resourceful. If you develop relationships with the medical community and clients, your insights and practices benefit your patients who come to visit you and I think that’s very important. “
With many changes in the way healthcare is provided, including the way pharmacies now have to operate and dispense drugs, Miller said it “may not evolve the way the profession is evolving.” He also cares about what he sees as increased responsibility.
Since the Select Board considered including local pharmacies in its lawsuit against groups found guilty of the opioid crisis, the potential for such litigation never left Miller’s mind. He also sees that technology takes over certain aspects of the job where he would prefer it to remain person-to-person rather than through the answering machine or computers.
“Sometimes I struggle with technology if it works efficiently, and where is the chain of custody, so to speak?” He said. “I struggle with this because then you have problems and they pile up and you can’t fix them, but the prescription flow keeps moving.”
Part of this challenge is about managing customer expectations. While they used to have paper notes, they now rely on calling or contacting the pharmacy to check prescriptions.
Miller said he doesn’t always know where the prescriptions are. She changed a voice mail at the pharmacy to ask customers to expect delays and to be thoughtful and patient.
Miller said it lacks the ability to change the health care system it has been a part of for decades.
“I’ve tried and I can’t,” he said. “So I’m in a system and I have to adapt to that system as best I can.”
Although things were more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller said selling the pharmacy was not part of the decision-making process. Mostly, the pharmacy stayed true to the model only on the sidewalk during the pandemic.
Miller considered the pandemic “something we had to adapt to and adapt to.”
“I think we’ve done a fantastic job and always get compliments for the work we’re doing,” he said.
Miller claimed to have benefited all of his customers. Even if the encounter is negative, she feels she has learned something.
“I’ll miss him, I guess,” he said. “I think I realize it’s time to start thinking about myself too.”
One aspect that Miller won’t miss too much is feeling like he’s a keeper in many ways. Pharmacists should review prescription details regarding indications and doses.
With the controversial ivermectin prescribed to treat COVID-19, pharmacists were instructed by the state to determine reasoning before allowing it to be dispensed. Ivermectin cannot turn to a customer if it will be used for coronavirus.
“That kind of thing is really hard and weighs on my soul,” Miller said, wondering if a precedent has been set for pharmacists to seek diagnoses before filling out a prescription.
Miller said he’s been very accepting of gatekeeping because he trusts his professional judgment and enjoys “excellent supplier relationships in this area, so we can always fix that. And that’s the benefit of establishing connections around town with prescribers.”
Harvie called the changes in the industry “incredible and sad enough”.
“People always think bigger is better and I can tell you that in healthcare, bigger isn’t better, but that’s the nature of the beast,” he said. “Things change and you have to change with them. I’ve been lucky enough to have a really, really good career, so I feel really lucky.
Michelle Ressi, a Brattleboro Pharmacy employee for nearly 10 years, is slightly shocked by the acquisition.
“I absolutely didn’t expect to hear it,” he said. “The pharmacy was like a home away from home. I call it my ‘pharmacy’ “.
Currently, Ressi has no plans to apply to work for Rite Aid.
“No one can replace the Brattleboro Pharmacy,” he said. “It was the people I worked with and Andy as the boss. He goes above and beyond. It is absolutely fantastic. I enjoyed being there doing the work in the pharmacy. I feel that working for someone else will never be the same “.
Ressi said he hopes everything goes smoothly with the transaction and wishes Miller the best of luck in his next chapter, but believes the deal could be a loss to the community.
Miller is not worried that Rite Aid will nullify his philosophy of how local pharmacies should operate.
“I think the people who work there are great and I hope my team will come together,” he said. “At the end of the day, it matters who the people are, not who the company is now, period.”
When Miller first moved to Brattleboro and became a new homeowner, a now deceased contractor named Guy Brunton replaced him for a piece of equipment and didn’t charge it. He told the story as his first lesson on how to take care of people in the city and something he will never forget that led to a life of service.
The building that houses the Brattleboro Pharmacy, which his group does not own, will be available for rent.