Medi-Center Pharmacy, in Prince Albert, Sask., has experienced exceptional success and growth under the guidance of pharmacist Lorelei Miller, likely because she’s guided by passion and likely because that passion is all about service.
By Claire Sowerbutt
Photography by Genelle Giblett
When she purchased the pharmacy in 2008, having worked there since 1992, there were just four pharmacists – today there are 10. And they’re busy. They provide a range of health and wellness services to the surrounding community that not only guarantee success but also show a forward-thinking attitude towards their community’s needs in the shifting landscape of Canadian healthcare.
Like most good success stories, Lorelei’s was several years in the making and not an easy ride. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1992, and moved to Prince Albert and started working at Medi-Center Pharmacy as a staff pharmacist. “During the first few years on staff-I was robbed at gun and knife point on two different occasions,” she says. “The robbers were seeking narcotics, not money.”
After two years as a staff pharmacist, she was promoted to manager, and was approached about the possibility of dispensing methadone from the store. “Given our previous issues with addicts, we didn’t really know if it was a good idea,” she recalls. “However, I felt if I wasn’t going to be part of the solution then I was part of the problem. So we decided to try with just a few patients.” Today more than 200 methadone patients are being helped through their pharmacy.
Needless to say, Lorelei and her staff have a passion for helping people suffering from addiction, and she notes that while the pharmacists see many of their regular patients just once month, many of their methadone patients come in every day. “One day I asked a patient why he was so happy every time he came in, he walked three kilometres every day, even when it was 40 below – just to get his methadone. He said, ‘this is the best part of my day.’ It was sad and wonderful at the same time. I knew that I would work with addicts for the rest of my career,” she said.
When asked how she determines the direction her business should take, Lorelei is clear, “I let the passions of my staff direct the services we offer, whether they are paid services or not. I believe that if you are truly passionate about something, you will provide exceptional service for patients. I send my staff for any and all training they desire and completely support them in their areas of interest.”
Currently, the pharmacy employs three pharmacists certified for Partnership to Assist in the Cessation of Tobacco, three certified compounding pharmacists, four trained in BHRT, and a certified geriatric pharmacist. There are also two pharmacists who work closely with HIV patients, monitoring lab values and working to increase compliance.
All 10 pharmacists have been trained to do Prescriptive Authority, and prescribe for minor ailments and conduct medication reviews, which are paid services through the drug plan in Saskatchewan.
In addition, the pharmacy features three private counselling rooms and a board room for patient/physician education sessions. “We try to staff so we can provide special services 40 hours per week,” Lorelei says. “Our goal is to one day have those three counselling rooms filled five days a week with paid consulting services.”
Adding more billable services is the way of the future for Medi-Center pharmacy. “I think this an exciting time to be a pharmacist,” Lorelei says. “We are able to use more of our skills and knowledge every day, which can make each day more rewarding. Hopefully, within the next few years, we will be able to offer many more billable services, increasing our profits from the clinical side of the business.”