Pharmacy U

Parksville Pharmasave expands services to help patients


Parksville Pharmasave is a small pharmacy that’s big on service. Since Tammie Toriglia and her then partner John Shillabeer opened in 2003 in the seaside resort on Vancouver Island, their overriding principle has been to provide a superior level of customer service.


By Talbot Boggs

Photography by Sarah Silver

Shortly after opening the 2,000 sq. ft. store, 800 sq. ft. of adjacent retail space became available. Toriglia and Shillabeer immediately grabbed it and turned it into a dedicated counselling/seminar room which provided the space they needed to develop their long and impressive suite of patient- and community-based services.

“Our vision was to give top-notch customer service, and a big part of that was patient education,” says Toriglia. “It’s a great way to build loyalty among customers and community groups. The seminar room really helped us get there.”

And get there they have. In May, 2003, Toriglia became a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), and she and Shillabeer started a vibrant diabetes practice, providing consultation services, checking meters to ensure they are working properly and helping patients interpret the results. Since then, Toriglia has become a key member of a local diabetes education centre and volunteers her time in its four-week program for newly-diagnosed diabetics.

In 2010, Toriglia became certified to administer medications by injection, and she and two other in-store pharmacists have immunized thousands of patients each flu season, increasing business but also relieving the workload of the local community health centre and family physicians. In 2012, Parksville administered more Zostavax injections than any other pharmacy in Canada.

Also in 2010, Toriglia was selected as one of only 300 pharmacists in B.C. to be trained in medication management as part of a provincial pilot project. She helped patients review their medications to better understand their importance, side effects and potential interactions. The project helped pave the way for the implementation of financial compensation for providing similar medication review services for all pharmacies across the province.

The store’s busy seminar room is used for seminars, clinics and presentations on a broad range of health topics and is routinely booked by local osteoporosis and caregiver support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, and others. The pharmacy hosts a series of Live Well seminars, which feature guest speakers such as podiatrists, psychologists, yoga teachers and herbalists. “Education is a great way to build customer and community loyalty,” Toriglia says. “It’s one of the best ways to help patients, the community and your business at the same time.”

Toriglia is a firm believer in professional development for all her staff. Four of the five pharmacists, for example, are qualified to give injections, two are CDEs and one is a heart-health specialist who teaches in a local health centre. She has two natural health consultants, two home healthcare fitters, and three of the pharmacists are taking courses in travel vaccinations. “As we added pharmacists over the years we were able to offer more services, but really we have just capitalized on what made sense for us to offer our customers and the community,” Toriglia says.

Most of Parksville’s services are conducted in the store, but pharmacists will travel to people’s homes to administer flu shots and fitters to fit patients for walkers, stockings and other home healthcare products. The pharmacy does blister packaging for some nearby nursing homes, offers a delivery service five days a week and will fill special frontshop orders for customers. “Whatever we do is strictly about health,” Toriglia says. “If someone wants a certain brand of soap we will spend the time to find it and get it for them. This is what builds loyalty, and loyalty builds business.”