SPRING HILL — Rare is the independent pharmacy. Rarer still, one with a marketing director. Toss in that Spanish is spoken here, with French and Creole language assistance on call. Carepoint RX Pharmacy fills all those bills.
Pharmacist Stephen Yeboah said that as an independent, he can offer more individual attention to clients and provide pharmaceuticals less expensively to his Kass Circle neighborhood. He previously managed an independent pharmacy in Tampa after earning chemistry and pharmacy degrees from Florida A & M University.
Carepoint RX offers only prescription and over-the-counter medications — no beauty products or soft drinks like bigger chain stores.
"We call them pharmacist-provided health care service centers," said Michael Jackson, executive vice president and CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association. "They specialize in one aspect of health care. They concentrate on your health care needs."
That "care" is central to Yeboah’s undertaking.
As an autonomous supplier of medicines only, the 37-year-old Ghana native said he has more time to dispense care: to listen to people’s ills, consider with them particular medications, help reduce drug overlaps or combine multiple medications into fewer pills. Customers can talk confidentially with him in a private consulting room.
As for cheaper drugs than other stores, Yeboah said larger outlets need a higher profit to pay their greater overhead costs.
"When you own it," he said, "you eliminate a lot of costs." That enables Carepoint to discount some drugs, especially attractive to those without health insurance or others with high drug co-pays, he said.
Yet, price doesn’t figure into an pharmacy’s success so much as its ability to access health insurance plans, Jackson said. In Carepoint’s case, the shop accepts "all major insurance," as well as Medicaid and Medicare.
Such customer-friendly pluses count for naught if people don’t know about them. Thus, Yeboah hired a marketing manager, Tanya Felix, to help build a larger clientele.
Felix, who honed her skills in the corporate world, has enrolled Carepoint RX as a member of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. The organization celebrated the pharmacy’s one-year anniversary last month with a ribbon cutting.
"In this area, its unusual for a small business to thrive," Felix said.
She visits doctors’ offices to introduce the pharmacy and leave business brochures. At community centers and supermarkets, she posts pharmacy literature on bulletin boards. At seniors’ and neighborhood gatherings, she touts the pharmacy’s discounts, free vitamins and aspirin for registered clients, plus free bus passes and free delivery.
"In a small pharmacy, (Yeboah) will come in after hours," Felix said. "The phone is always on. When it’s voicemail, he’ll call them back. Big pharmacies, when they’re closed, they’re closed."
The marketing guru is bilingual in Spanish and translated the shop’s informational and promotional materials. As for conversing in French and Creole, the pharmacist’s wife, Nadege Yaboah, provides it. The Haitian native is the pharmacy’s owner and handles the financials part-time as she cares for the couple’s infant.
The pharmacy’s name — Carepoint RX?
"We came up with it together," Nadege Yaboah said, "showing that we care."
Carepoint is one of 36 registered independent pharmacies in Hernando County, Jackson said, but a good number of those are within institutions, such as hospitals.
Independents serving the public are "not many at all," he explained.
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]