'Pharmacy has been recognized as being part of the solution'
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Hannaford Bros. director of pharmacy operations Wendy Boynton launched the in-person National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ 2022 Regional Chain Conference on Monday by calling out all that has been accomplished over the past two years by the industry and within the profession.
“Pharmacy has been recognized as being part of the solution,” Boynton, the conference chair, said. “We continued to change and evolve to get where we are today and we will continue to be quick to adapt to get where we want to go in the future.”
Boynton also detailed the ways in which retailers and suppliers innovated boldly throughout the COVID pandemic to continue to meet the critical needs of patients and consumers:
“We provided alternative solutions for patients to obtain their prescriptions – offering drive thru, curbside pickup and home delivery. We set up mass clinics – getting vaccines to arms. We leveraged great partnerships with our suppliers, and we should all be really proud of all the things that we have done up to this point: representing our profession and sewing our communities.”
Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health and NACDS chair, echoed Boynton’s thoughts, recognizing the expertise, innovation and commitment of the NACDS regional chain members, and noting the importance of continued retailer-supplier engagement:
“I want to express appreciation for NACDS suppliers – who changed operations and helped retailers deliver for patients and consumers. Together, we were a solution for our country.”
Their remarks came as the conference, with the theme “Over and Above,” has brought together industry leaders from across the nation to meet in person and connect, collaborate and discuss the future of the industry, according to the association, which said the event centers on the resiliency and adaptability of NACDS chain and supplier members; their ongoing and vital contributions to the fight against the COVID pandemic; and the imminent health and wellness revolution that will define the future of NACDS, its members and a united industry.
NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson emphasized the “power of association,” noting that the relationships built at NACDS meetings and conferences through the years have figured significantly in navigating the pandemic and in serving Americans (a point that is reflected in Chain Drug Review’s naming of NACDS as “Retailer of the Year”):
“Think[ing] back to the weeks immediately following the 2020 Regional Chain Conference, and all the uncertainty and all the developments, one thing stands out in my mind: NACDS kept focused as an organization,” Anderson said. “NACDS is the membership – the collective and collaborative will of our members. And by uniting the industry, we can accomplish so much together. So, when COVID reached our shores in the U.S., and when it became more apparent what we were dealing with, the NACDS Board put together a plan with these objectives: contributing to the health and well-being of the public, of members’ staff, and of NACDS staff; delivering value to NACDS members; living up to the industry’s reputation for professionalism, trust and accessibility; and continuing to advance NACDS’ mission vigorously.”
Lindholz also described pharmacies’ successes on behalf of the American people, and the “push” that must continue to empower NACDS members’ COVID response and to protect patient health, patients’ access to pharmacies, and pharmacies’ viability — beyond the pandemic:
“What if in a year or two the stat ‘there’s a pharmacy within five miles of 90 percent of Americans’ were no longer the case? What if in two years, the government were to roll back preparedness and pharmacy teams were to lose opportunities to vaccinate and test to the degree they’ve been able to during the pandemic?”
In an NACDS leadership panel discussion, Brian Nightengale, president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy and NACDS vice chair, joined Lindholz and Anderson to talk about these pressing issues that remain crucial for pharmacy value and viability — including DIR fee reform, broader reimbursement issues, opioid-abuse prevention and the need to make permanent and expand the scope of practice and other preparedness measures achieved on a temporary basis during COVID — and the intense focus that NACDS will continue to place on these issues.
The panel discussion also centered on lessons learned throughout the COVID pandemic; bold innovations to meet changing consumer demands and mindsets; and the acceleration of self-care, telehealth, multidisciplinary health and wellness, ominchannel and more.
Lindholz and Anderson underscored not only the passion and purpose that the NACDS membership — united through the “glue” that is NACDS — continues to bring to the COVID crisis, but they also focused on the vibrant future in store for an evolving industry.
“NACDS has always been the glue that’s keeping this industry together,” Anderson said. “I think that summarizes everything you’ve done and continue to do. We’ve done it here, and we’ll do it at the NACDS Annual Meeting in April and at the NACDS Total Store Expo in August.”
The time is right for change, Lindholz contended. “We’re in the community and we’re where people are,” she said. “They know us. They trust us. Now is the time to revolutionize the industry – to move quickly, to innovate boldly, and to provide total health and wellness solutions that empower consumers.”