Jennie + Jerrod: Going Long For Long-Term Care
The Power of Listening
Listening to constructive feedback from customers can yield phenomenal results. That’s how Pharmacare Hawaii’s burgeoning Long-Term Care division got its start.
More than 12 years ago, one of our nutrition customers, the Ito Healthcare Group, which owns and operates Pearl City Nursing Home, Oahu Care Facility, and Kūlana Mālama, suggested that Pharmacare create a new division dedicated to serving long-term care facilities, according to Brandy Shima, Director of Community & Long-Term Care Pharmacy Services. Pharmacare took that advice to heart. After looking at Hawaii’s rapidly growing elder population, Pharmacare decided it was the right time to rise to this new, emerging challenge and launched the Long-Term Care Division in 2004.
Pharmacare’s current long-term care customers include many of the major skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, home hospice patients, residential care homes, adult foster homes, as well as a correctional facility, but the Long-Term Care Division team members would like to serve more customers. And they’re willing to work hard to earn the trust of more facilities and their business.
It Starts with Great Employees
When you walk into the Long-Term Care Division area, you’ll immediately feel the passionate energy of the team. There is intense activity in the Long-Term Care Division on week days and half a day on Saturdays. Like clockwork, medications and supplies are delivered twice a day.
The first set of deliveries are out the door and on their way to the various long-term care facilities by 1 pm, with a second delivery at 6 pm. Facilities are also able to reach Pharmacare 24/7 for after-hours emergency deliveries. Always ready to serve, the Long-Term Care Division will make deliveries of prescriptions, even it’s in the middle of the night.
Being the Best at What We Do
There is no substitute for hard work and efficient teamwork.
“We have good workers who are willing to put in 120%, so that’s what makes my job here enjoyable,” said Jennie Lee, the Long-Term Care Division Manager, who joined Pharmacare right after graduating from the University of the Pacific’s Pharmacy School in Stockton, California, as a floater in Outpatient before Brandy asked her to join the Long-Term Care Division in 2009. “It feels like family here. I’m not just a number. It’s a warm, welcoming community.”
Jerrod Nakachi, Pharmacy Technician Supervisor, who started at Pharmacare’s Aiea Medical Pharmacy in 2007 and moved over to the Long-Term Care Division in 2009, agrees.
“We have a great group of employees. I can’t see having a better team than what we have here. We’re on the right path with Pharmacare, always wanting to be the best and we make sure we take care of patients first and foremost.”
“My co-workers do the best they can at what they do. We get compliments on how pleasant we are on the phone. Everything we do here shows in our work,” he said. “We have a lot of passionate people who work here and our customer service is by far top notch…We take care of each other. It’s a work family. Work doesn’t feel like work.”
Exceeding Customer Expectations with Customization
Both Jennie and Jerrod have set the tone a positive, thriving culture of success. They hire those who are willing to serve and understand the importance of being attuned to customer needs. In fact, listening to the preferences and insights of our customers continues to be important to the Long-Term Care Division and is a major reason the division is flourishing.
“Something really special that we offer is customized services to each facility. Another competitor might be black and white and cut-and-dried about what they can and cannot do, but we listen to each facility and try to see what their needs are,” Jennie said, noting that a facility may have preferences for certain medications for their emergency kits, which Pharmacare will accommodate.
Keeping Pace with Business Growth
The Long-Term Care Division began with just five or six employees. Just within the past year and a half, the division had to expand to keep up with the growing demands of long-term care facilities. “We tripled our staff, tripled the number of nursing homes that we take care of, tripled our patients,” he said. “It’s a tribute to our staff.”
Jerrod attributes word of mouth among the facility directors as one of drivers of referrals to Pharmacare. “We receive more business and keep the business that we have. It’s a tribute to all that Pharmacare stands for and what we’re trying to work towards. The services speak for themselves and what we do,” he said.
Today, there are 16 employees in the Long-Term Care Division, including six pharmacists, six pharmacy technicians, three packers, and one responsible for billing. Jerrod noted that the Long-Term Care Division initially worked out of the Aiea Medical Building, but they outgrew that space. In February 2015, the Long-Term Care Division moved to a larger space of their own off the second floor parking area of our corporate headquarters on Koapaka Street, which offers more room to grow. Based on the current trajectory of the division, they may eventually outgrow this space – a good problem to have.
Going Beyond Deliveries
Pharmacare Hawaii’s Long-Term Care Division does much more than deliver prescriptions. Jennie said the team serves as a vital partner to help the facilities succeed by participating as a consultant in helping with the integration of electronic charting for better health outcomes.
Investing Back in the Business
The Long-Term Care Division recently invested in new, more robust software that offers more options, specifically designed to serve long-term care facilities. This new system allows for paperless integration and in developing more efficient workflow processes to set the tone for future growth.
She said the Long-Term Care Division is now experiencing “growing pains” as the team straddles both systems during this transition period. The Long-Term Care Division recently participated in training for the new system to be “better at this than anyone.” The team plans to completely cut over to the new software early next year.
Despite being a big growth area of Pharmacare, Jerrod humbly points out that the Long-Term Care Division is just a “small piece” of the Pharmacare family. The IV group and Enteral group, along with all the departments in the company, collectively contribute to the reliable care we provide to our patients.
“Together, we take care of our patients from head to toe,” he said. And that’s the Pharmacare approach to customer service.