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Pharmacists last week began prescribing and supplying smoking cessation products at 114 Kroger in-store pharmacies in Indiana and 15 pharmacies in Fred Meyer and Smith’s stores in Idaho.

Kroger, Hy-Vee and other supermarket pharmacies extend health care reach

Expanded services, accessibility key to grocery chains’ wellness offering

Supermarket pharmacies continue to expand their health services beyond prescription drugs as well as make pharmacy care more accessible.

Kroger Health, the health care arm of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., said pharmacists last week began prescribing and supplying smoking cessation products at 114 Kroger in-store pharmacies in Indiana and 15 pharmacies in Fred Meyer and Smith’s stores in Idaho. The program comes after recent legislative changes in both states allowed pharmacists to prescribe tobacco cessation medications to patients looking to quit smoking.

The service works as follows: After a consultation with a pharmacist, patients will receive a prescription (such as for Zyban or Chantix), if appropriate, along with smoking cessation therapy and behavioral counseling as part of a personalized quit plan, according to Kroger Health. A pharmacist also will follow up with the patient after the initial meeting. Kroger noted that many of the tobacco cessation medications are available at a discounted rate via the Kroger Rx Savings Club.

Kroger Health announced the smoking cessation program just a week after launching rapid testing for strep throat and flu at pharmacies in Michigan and Idaho.

“Smoking and tobacco are leading causes of preventable disease in the United States,” Kroger Health President Colleen Lindholz said in a statement. “Many customers want to quit but don’t know where to start. Others have tried to quit but were unsuccessful. We want people to know they can come to our pharmacy and get assistance with what can often be a trying process. As a pharmacist who began my career in our stores, I’ve seen firsthand how much programs like this can change people’s lives.”

This month, Hy-Vee also is promoting preventive care, focusing on cardiovascular health, with free biometric screenings across its eight-state Midwestern market. Working out of Hy-Vee Healthy You Mobile RVs, Hy-Vee dietitians will perform the screenings at 91 stores during February on a first-come, first-served basis.


Hy-Vee is promoting preventive care, focusing on cardiovascular health, with free biometric screenings across its eight-state Midwestern market.

The tests aim to identify potential risk factors for chronic diseases or conditions, including heart disease, hypertension or diabetes, according to Hy-Vee. The dietitians will collect a blood sample from a finger prick to determine cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose level. They will also check blood pressure and measure height, weight and waist as well as body mass index (BMI).

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee said the screening process typically lasts 15 to 20 minutes, and participants receive their results and review them with a clinician during their appointment.

Meanwhile, Food Lion has launched a new mobile pharmacy app to enable remote management of prescriptions and health and wellness.


The Salisbury, N.C.-based chain, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, said the free app (left) — offered for both iOS and Android devices — allows users to locate a Food Lion pharmacy, request prescription refills, access their prescription history, transfer medications and access a health library for information on general health topics.

“Providing convenient health solutions to our neighbors is important to our pharmacists and all of us at Food Lion,” said John Bednarz, manager of pharmacy operations at Food Lion, which operates 32 pharmacies in the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia and Georgia. “This new app will provide customers with convenient, great care plus additional resources to help manage their health and wellness.”

In August, Southeastern grocer Publix Super Markets plans to open its 13th in-hospital pharmacy at the Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The pharmacy will provide prescription and over-the-counter medications for patients, visitors and employees of Halifax Health and is expected to open in August 2020. Besides receiving their prescriptions upon discharge, Halifax patients also can easily refill them at a Publix in-store pharmacy. The Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer said it has 26 Publix pharmacies in communities served by Halifax Health.

“As patients are discharged from the hospital, they are often prescribed medications to continue their care. Through our collaboration with Halifax Health, we’re able to bring the convenience of bedside delivery to the medical center’s patients and eliminate an extra stop on their way home,” according to Dain Rusk, vice president of pharmacy at Publix. “We also look forward to providing premier service to Halifax Health employees as we become their exclusive in-network pharmacy.”

Publix now operates 12 pharmacies at hospital in Florida, most recently opening one in Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine. The food and drug retailer said it continues to look for collaboration opportunities throughout its seven-state operating area. Publix’s current pharmacy partnerships include BayCare Health System in Florida and Beaufort Memorial Hospital in South Carolina.

In Canada, Sobeys Inc. said last week it became the country’s first national pharmacy network to provide “talking” prescription drug labels for visually impaired patients. En-Vision America’s ScripTalk audible prescription labels are now available at the Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based retailer’s 420 pharmacy locations, including in Sobeys, Safeway, Thrifty Foods, Foodland, IGA (western Canada), FreshCo and Lawtons Drugs stores.

With ScripTalk, pharmacists can code prescription labels with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Blind, low-vision or print-impaired patients then can use the free ScripTalk Station Reader to have important prescription information and instructions read aloud. They also can access audible prescription labels by using En-Vision’s mobile phone app, which is compatible with the coded prescription labels.

“We’re proud to offer ScripTalk at all of our pharmacies across the country. ScripTalk is an easy-to-use yet innovative technology that is breaking barriers for those who are blind, have experienced vision loss, or are otherwise not able to read vital prescription information,” said Jim Johnston, vice president of operations for in-store pharmacy at Sobeys. “With this technology, we’re empowering our patients to independently manage their medications safely at our pharmacies, in their homes or wherever they may be.”

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