Renee and I opened Lake Zurich Family Treatment in 1984. We were broke and the banks did not want to lend us any money as NO ONE HAD HEARD OR, OR COULD IMAGINE A WALK-IN FAMILY PHYSICIANS OFFICE.
Our attorney and financial advisors were sure that we would have a negative cash flow for 2-3 years. Despite such dismal projections, I signed the lease and construction began. My earliest patients met me while we were still under construction. I worked at Northwest Community’s ER during the day and installed ceiling tiles and laid flooring at night.
It was summer and the TCBY was open. People would stroll into the office and ask me if I knew anything about the new doc hose practice was opening soon. I told them that I personally knew Dr Segal and he was a great doc. I also told them that he was pretty good at installing flooring and ceilings.
The landlord met with me and informed me that someone was working in the building at night and the union was threatening to shut down the site. He was surprised to find that the “someone” was me. When he told the union crew that the night worker was the doc and that the doc was broke, they stopped working on the rest of the shopping center and finished my office.
In those days, being a doc garnered a lot of respect. Being a doc who would get his hands dirty garnered even more respect. When times were bad, I could always look at the exam room floor and smile, knowing what I was capable of creating.
One of the individuals who strolled in late at night when I was working as a laborer was Tom, the local independent pharmacist. Tom welcomed me to the community and taught me how important it was to have a family pharmacist on a patient’s healthcare team. Tom would call me if my patient failed to pick up his/her prescription or if someone had a problem with their meds. He would also help those who could not afford their meds.
When Osco opened, Vicki (a pharmacist) assumed the same role, becoming a vital part of many patients’ healthcare team. Over time, things changed. The Oscos of the world, insurance carriers and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) put Tom out of business. The major pharmacies started rotating multiple pharmacist through their stores and the family pharmacist became extinct. With few exceptions (the pharmacist at Marianos in LZ), a major part of a person’s healthcare team disappeared.
WHAT A PITY!!!
Once again, ZdoggMD has done a brilliant piece on the modern-day pharmacy. Please click on the hyperlink and listen to what he has to say.
In the next few days I’ll write an article on “Pay For Performance” and the shift from medicine being a calling to medicine becoming big business. Stay tuned.