Lihue Pharmacy Group
Please tell us about your business. We provide pharmaceutical drugs and the services associated with them. People bring in a prescription, we check it and make sure it’s accurate, and that it’s the right drug for the right patient. Once we’ve processed it and cleared the claim through the insurance carrier, we talk to the patient about their medication — how to take it appropriately and what to do with it. We have three locations: one in Lihue, one at Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Lihue and one in Kapaa.
Why health care? I really like science. Pharmacy is a really good way to integrate my interests in biology, chemistry and interacting with people — it just seems to work.
What is your professional background as a pharmacist? First, I did my 2,000 hours of internship. After that, I heard about an opening in Hawaii and so I bought a one-way ticket to Honolulu. I worked for a pharmacy company there for 11 years and also went through specialized training for infusion care, like IV therapy, to provide medicines to people in their homes. When there was an opportunity to open up an infusion pharmacy on Kauai, I quit my job on Oahu and came here in 1992.
What is an infusion pharmacy? A place like Lihue Pharmacy Group that provides IV antibiotics. A lot of times the antibiotics you have to take for a particular infection aren’t effective if you take them orally, and so they are administered through an IV line. Also, it includes chemotherapy for cancer patients. We have provided these services since we opened, but now include prescription drugs and home medical equipment and supplies.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business? When you have an impact on someone’s health, it’s a great experience for everyone — the patient feels better and we get a reward by feeling that we’ve contributed in something beyond just working for a salary. Also, I get to work with really great people. We have a great staff. Just being able to work with people who come with the same passion for this work, I feel lucky to have that. We work hard but none of us feels like it’s a job.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? At this time it’s getting reimbursed appropriately for the medicines and services we provide. There is a mentality that if someone will do it for $5, we’ll do it for $4, and I call that the race to the bottom. Turning what we do into a commodity has had a real negative effect on pharmacies. What we provide has incredible value.
What makes you get up every day and go to work? I like the activity of it — showing up and looking to catch things. I also like counseling patients about medications; I love the interaction of the science, medicine and the humanity of it.
What are some of your future plans for this business? I’m in the process of opening a pharmacy in Kona on Hawaii island.