Pharmacy coming to Albion

Article by Matt Getts of KPC Media

ALBION — For more than a decade, Albion has been without a pharmacy.

That medicinal drought is coming to an end.

On Monday, the Indiana Pharmacy Board gave Warsaw-based Pill Box Pharmacy President Greg Winn permission to bring a telepharmacy to 903 Northridge Road, Albion, next to Subway at Northridge Village. Winn said Tuesday remodeling the location is next, and once the building is inspected by the state, it will be three months before an official opening.

“I’m excited,” Town Council President Vicki Jellison said. “The Town Council, administrative offices and employees are making strides in keeping our small town competitive in what we have to offer, while keeping our small-town values. Albion is going places.”

Winn said the pharmacy will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Saturday hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be staffed with a certified pharmacy technician.

Winn said people will follow the same procedure they do at a traditional pharmacy. But after a technician has filled the prescription, photos will be taken of the bottle it was taken from as well as the prescription label and one of the actual pills. Those photos will be sent to a pharmacist in Warsaw who will make sure the correct medication was dispensed.

The pharmacist will be available for consultation via a HIPAA-approved secured video link.

For Winn, opening the location in Albion will provide a bit of redemption. His family started the Pill Box Pharmacy in Mentone in 1979. In the middle of the last decade — about the same time Albion lost its pharmacy — financial considerations forced it to close that office and operations were consolidated in a Warsaw location.

“It was really tough for our family,” Winn said. “I grew up in that (Mentone) store.”

According to Winn, many small-town pharmacies can’t afford to operate with a full-time pharmacist on staff. The telepharmacy model makes small town pharmacies more doable.

Albion customers will be dealing with a pharmacist in Warsaw.

He said it is the Pill Box Pharmacy’s policy to encourage people to consult with a pharmacist any time a medicine strength is changed or a new medicine is added.

Getting state approval for a telepharmacy was a long road.

Winn first heard of the idea while at an out-of-state conference in 2015. In March 2016, he sought Indiana Pharmacy Board approval to open a telepharmacy in Albion. The board said it was not comfortable granting such an application since the issue wasn’t covered by state law.

So working with former state Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion, and Town Councilman John Morr, Winn began to pursue legislation. With the help of a pair of statewide pharmacy groups, new legislation approving of telepharmacies became law on July 1, 2017.

Winn then went to the Indiana Pharmacy Board again, requesting to open a telepharmacy in Albion. The problem, he was told by the board, was that there wasn’t an application to be filled out because one hadn’t been developed yet.

Winn was placed on a committee to come up with an application, but the group couldn’t get together until Nov. 27, 2017. At the close of the meeting, they set their next meeting for January.

“I thought I was going to die before this got done,” Winn said.

Winn helped put together a rough draft that was made available at the January meeting. At the group’s February meeting, it received final approval. The Indiana Board of Pharmacy signed off on the measure.

On March 29, Winn was informed the application was available for download from the state. The morning of March 30, Winn mailed out his application.

It proved too late to get on the April Pharmacy Board agenda, but he got the approval at Monday’s meeting.