When Lehan Drug Pharmacy opened in 1946, they began striving to be more than a traditional pharmacy. They wanted to be a health store for their community. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that Dr. D.J. Larson, vice president of sale and marketing for Lehan Drugs, took a chance with his family’s pharmacy and made their practice uniquely their own.
There are not many pharmacies like Lehan, which have developed deep roots in their community as a fourth-generation family pharmacy. Back in 1946, when Lehan Pharmacy opened it operated in a small space of a couple hundred square feet. This made it difficult to have all the necessities of a traditional pharmacy as well as expanded services. With their desire to develop additional patient care services, they have grown the original pharmacy to over two thousand square feet and added other locations. Today they are located in DeKalb, Sycamore, and Rockford, Illinois. With these expansions they finally have space to begin one of their most unique services, a service that focuses on Women’s Health.
“Everyone in this world, and country, has someone that they know who was affected by breast cancer or another type of cancer, and that’s where we started,” Dr. Larson said. “We were helping those women who had breast cancer. We were somewhere that they could go to get a product right away and not have to wait for it. They are able to get these products right away and get them in a timely fashion and still be able to bill insurance…which is huge.”
Lehan Pharmacy currently has three certified fitters, explained below, on staff with another fitter that will join their team in 2015 as their business picks up. This allows them to help more women who come in for the service.
The full title of the position is a certified mastectomy fitter. These fitters have to go through courses, be watched, trained, and complete 500 hours of fitting time before being certified and many have even gone through the process themselves. The experience of each fitter allows them insight in potentially different patient care aspects so that each patient has the best possible experience. Patients that come in are “a bit more unique in their situation,” Dr. Larson said. “Some have a partial mastectomy, some people have full mastectomies, some have one sided, some have two. It’s kind of like being a doctor. You have all the hours of training in order to do it on your own. So that’s what a certified fitter is. You’ve been trained how to fit a prosthetic and bra for that woman who has gone through breast cancer.”
However, Lehan Drug’s focus on women’s health does not end there. In addition to mastectomy fittings, their women’s section includes hot flash pajamas for those who are going through menopause, hormone replacement therapies, compression fittings, and the newly added mother / baby section. This addition, completed in 2011, assists women and their newborns in areas from lactation counseling to an array of different products for infants and mothers. A lactation counselor and a lactation specialist are on staff so they can walk through the process with mothers. Afterwards, mothers can select the products they need and have insurance billed for them. “As of January 1, 2013, the new Affordable Care Act really forced the hand of insurances to cover breast parts for new moms,” Dr. Larson said.
This patient-oriented service has seen significant development over time. “We did 1 or 2 [services] a month and now we’re doing 200 a month,” Dr. Larson said. “This is another section of our store that helped awareness in what our store does” and this has helped grow their pharmacy and their ability to make a difference in their community.
So what exactly is in store for Lehan Pharmacy in the future? Dr. Larson believes that they will continue to expand their women’s health division, but they also are looking into men’s health. “I think there’s a big area for men’s health”, Dr. Larson said. Whether overall health or looking into specific aspects of men’s health care, Dr. Larson feels that it is important to explore. Lehan Pharmacy also hopes to improve their communities’ adherence with prescriptions and is continuously looking for ways to collaborate with other health care providers to help improve health outcomes.
With many products that Lehan has, most are usually “cobranded with a compound, durable medical equipment, or an aspect of our business.” Dr. Larson believes that this is important so that when he talks to doctors he doesn’t limit the talk at compounding services or the prescriptions that they receive, but he can talk about Lehan Pharmacy as a “whole packaged deal”. This permits Lehan to be a more comprehensive one-stop pharmacy for many patients who can benefit greatly from their services.
Lehan Pharmacy is constantly thinking about the community and generating new ideas to improve the community services they offer. This has allowed them a “real, deep-rooted creative involvement” and dedication to what they do every day. Dr. Larson noted, “In reality, I don’t think there’s anything that really makes us different from the next person. It’s just that you really care about the person who walks in through the door like they would be your own mom, grandma, or sister, and you treat them that way. And that is going to come around in the long run.”