Focusing on patient care is paramount for the team at Northgate Pharmacy.
This year marks a decade since Richard Kelch opened the pharmacy at the east end of the Northgate Plaza. He worked alone then. Today, there are three pharmacists and six assistants and technicians on staff to provide comprehensive care to their patients.
Earlier this year, Northgate Pharmacy also joined with 11 other independent pharmacies under the banner of Whole Health Pharmacy Partners with the goal of empowering the independent pharmacists in purchasing power and patient-focused care.
“People are relying more on their pharmacy for information,” says Kelch, who has seen his the scope of his practice change to include vaccinations, partnering with mental health patients to ensure medication compliance, and helping patients achieve weight loss in order to become candidates for hip or knee replacement surgeries.
He says healthcare consumers are also more informed than ever before, and as they gain more information the more options they have to explore.
“People ask questions. People are the captains of their own ship when it comes to their health,” he says. “The more informed you are, the more you know, the more questions you have.”
Equally important in the smaller patient-focused pharmacy is the role the pharmacist plays. Instead of being focused on a steady stream of counting pills, Kelch says he and his pharmacists are able to focus on the patient.
“I want to have a conversation with the patient.”
As a member of the Whole Health Pharmacy Partners, Northgate Pharmacy has started to share the message of Sick Not Weak a Canadian-based initiative to remove the stigma from mental illness through conversation and awareness, and encourage sufferers to come forward and seek help. This dialogue with a pharmacist, can often lead a patient to the right place for additional help.
“We’re better versed to talk to the patient about how they’re feeling.”
Mental health is just one of the issues facing patients regularly in a complex world, says Kelch. Many of their patients are part of the “sandwich” generation, coping with the health care needs of their children and their aging parents. Sometimes, they are working with adult children in other cities via phone who are concerned about their parents in Sarnia.
Serving the needs of patients is paramount, and the appreciation for Kelch’s approach is being acknowledged by Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards. Northgate Pharmacy is nominated in the Outstanding Customer Service-Small category. Richard Kelch is nominated for the Outstanding Customer Service-Individual.