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Leading the Way to a Better Tomorrow - A Focus on the Community

Since 1965, Katterman’s Pharmacy has been unique in catering to the needs of their own Seattle WA community. Being a part of the Laurelhurst, Windermere, and Sand Point neighborhoods for nearly 50 years, they have gotten to know their patients’ needs, what they are open to, and the kind of services that would be most beneficial. The focus is on keeping people healthy and being able to serve the community with an emphasis on staying well.

Dr. Beverly Schaefer, PharmD, has co-owned Katterman’s Pharmacy with Steve Cone since 1996.  She has had the unique experience of working there since the start of her career.  When asked what makes Katterman’s unique, she replies that it is the personality of the pharmacists and how they are attempting to make healthcare more accessible. Dr. Schaefer cites immunizations as an example and says, “Our pharmacy was, if not the first pharmacy, one of the first pharmacies to offer immunizations. The first year that we decided to do immunizations was in 1996, which was like a hundred years ago in immunization time. That's something that no other pharmacy had done at the time. No other pharmacy had even tried it. And so right away there was a big wakeup call that there was an unmet need for patient care services.”

The co-owners of Katterman’s Pharmacy have the ability to reinvent their pharmacy every few years so that they are able to offer new, different, and relevant services for the community.  Following that same spirit for filling unmet needs, they have recently begun to focus on minor acute ailments and now also run a small travel clinic. Realizing that there was a large, unmet need for travel consultations on immunizations and preventative medication, Katterman’s stepped in to fill that need.  They realized that many physicians are not well versed in travel medications and that referrals to travel clinics can be costly.

And what do they mean when they say they cover minor acute illnesses? Dr. Schaefer states, “I’m talking about swimmers ear, pink eye, dog bites. I'm talking updated epipen, updated inhaler usage, and help with uncomplicated urinary tract infection. When talking about preventive medicine for travel, we’re talking about bee stings and immunizations. These are the things that happen without really requiring a trip to the ER.”

The pharmacy hopes to begin a ‘lose ten pounds club’ this January. This project is something Dr. Schaefer has wanted to do for quite some time because it’s a service that every community could use. She said, “It doesn’t cost a lot of money. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or equipment or even extra staff. It’s looking for needs that aren’t being met, and this is one of those needs”.

So how would this new program work? For $35 you can be enrolled in the ‘lose ten pounds club’ and have 60 days to lose those pounds. It won’t matter how you lose the weight or how fast you lose it. All that would matter is that by the time 60 days are completed, the ten pounds must be completely gone. For those who sign up, Katterman’s will offer weekly diet tips, give helpful information, or give favorite healthy recipes. Dr. Schaefer plans to bring in local food items and will encourage patients to use her electronic scale for free. Katterman’s would also offer to chart the weight loss anonymously if that would be motivational. They might also put in the initial weight into the system as if it’s a prescription to help keep track of any weight change. If you’re able to lose the 10 pounds in 60 days, then you would receive a $25 gift certificate to use at Katterman’s . The point is to have patients keep track of the progress and to motivate them.

So exactly how has Katterman’s Pharmacy been so successful? Dr. Schaefer attributes their success to two factors. The first is taking “baby steps” with each program or service and taking it step by step from a basic level before building up. Dr. Schaefer said, “The first step is to get people interested in doing it. Period. And the second step is to make it small enough that it's achievable. Baby steps.”  Should hiring a dietician be a first step?  She suggests that it is too critical, too scientific, and that things should be much smaller than that to start a program. “You want something way more basic, something people will understand and not find intimidating.” She cannot stress enough, the key is to really assess what the needs of the community are.

Students have also been a great resource for Katterman’s. The value of student input has been important to Dr. Schaefer as she is continually looking for new ideas and new ways to improve Katterman’s for the future. When asked what advice she has for students she remarks, “Students bring a lot to me that they don't even know. And what I would tell you is to come with a proposition, an idea, regarding health and staying healthy and I'd be very interested in learning even more about it. Bring me a value proposition, that's what I call it. This is your value to me. This is your value to this pharmacy and to keeping people healthy. It’s to get people thinking in a slightly different way than they teach in pharmacy school. They're very clinically oriented in pharmacy school and the problem with that is you need to translate it for how it fits your community.”

Overall, Dr. Schaefer recommends that other pharmacies look for unmet needs that are in their own communities. She encourages pharmacists and pharmacies to ask the following questions: “What do people need in the evening or on weekends? What do people need that they have to wait weeks for an appointment? What do people need to help them stay healthy?” and then provide those services.