MODESTO, Calif. -- Save Mart Supermarkets here is in the midst of expanding the number of its pharmacies and enhancing its services to diabetics, Michele Snider, director of pharmacy, told SN.
The chain started the year with 33 pharmacies, now has 34 and will have three more by the end of the year, one each in September, October and December, she said.
"The future of pharmacy at Save Mart is bright and growing," Snider said. "We feel the opportunity is still there for the pharmacy market even though margins are lower. Volume is up and everyone is getting older, and as we age, we use more and more prescriptions."
Also, with the new Medicare bill, "there's a great opportunity for patient management care, and we are looking into that as well." The pharmacies are located near the front of the stores so elderly patients have easy access to them, "and we are putting in very nice waiting areas so they have a place to sit down and read some health brochures while they are waiting for the pharmacist to fill their prescription," she said.
The stores have information racks with brochures from the American Pharmacists Association, Washington. "We also provide them with Web site information," Snider said.
The chain is rolling out special diabetes endcaps and in-line sections to all stores with pharmacies, and now has eight installed, she said. The diabetes sections will be added to the rest of the stores with pharmacies within the next 90 days, she added. The sections include such diabetic needs as glucose meters, strips and lancets, as well as diabetic over-the-counter medications like cough syrups. Diabetic socks, creams, ointments and sugar-free products such as candies, cookies and cake mixes are also part of the mix.
"We keep it close to the pharmacy so the pharmacist can get out there and talk to the patients about the products," Snider said.
Save Mart is also conducting special diabetic events in these stores. Five of the monthly events have been held so far, and will continue until all the stores with pharmacies have been covered, and then probably start over, she said. "At the store where we started, they are already asking for another event," she said.
Consumers have to sign up for the diabetes events, which are limited to 30 to 50 people. They are promoted in the pharmacy with fliers, which are generally available but especially given out to people with diabetes-related prescriptions, Snider said.
The events last two to three hours with several stations throughout the store. For example, "there is a store tour with our nutritionist who takes the patients around the store and shows them where to look for healthy products, and tells them how to read labels," she said.
A certified diabetic educator is on hand to do glucose tests, and diabetics are educated on the importance of foot care and healthy eating. Cooking demonstrations, as well as instructions in reading glucose meters, are also part of the program.
Besides the educational value, "it's a way for us to capture more business, which is not a bad thing," Snider said.