Josh Baldwin

Ahead of the Pack

Josh Baldwin
Ahead of the Pack
By Julian Levine

The reasons for living and working in Southern West Virginia can be a tough thing to describe to those who aren’t already in the know. It’s been said that if you spend a day in Greenbrier County you won’t know why people live here, but if you spend a week you may never leave. Of course it’s beautiful, but many places are easy on the eyes. More than beauty there’s a sense of cooperation, an unstated understanding that while we can’t run off to Target for a kitschy dish set, we can get an amazing cup of coffee and fast internet from friendly faces. We can’t go to a big-box store on Black Friday, but we can buy local meats, herbs, vegetables, and flowers from the farmer’s market. The majority of things that we can’t  have at a moment’s notice involve shopping, movie selection,  and chain restaurants. Keep it a secret, but I don’t think most people here really mind. 

Therein lies the key to the area. The quiet truth isn’t how unlike the rest of the fast-paced world we are, it’s that we enjoy the cutting-edge aspects of the modern world without sacrificing the “small-town” soul that we cherish. Of course it’s vitally important to keep a modern pace with respect to medical care and it’s no secret that managing medicine and one’s health can be a confusing, time-consuming experience. Thanks to businesses like Greenbrier Medical Arts Pharmacy (GMAP), who diligently work to stay ahead of the pack, residents of the Greenbrier Valley don’t have to look far for top-notch pharmaceutical care. 

“As healthcare evolves and customers seek convenience, Greenbrier Medical Arts Pharmacy continues to foster and expand its commitment to total health and community wellness,” says Mary Page Nemcik, director of marketing for GMAP.  “Free blood pressure tests, glucometer training, diabetic shoe fittings, diabetes education services, immunizations, health screenings and medication therapy management are just a few of the services that we offer beyond basic prescription care,” she adds. 

As you can tell, GMAP focuses on the health and the wellness of their customers in a deeper way than being the go-between for doctors and patients to get their medications. Alongside the various tests and screenings they offer, they are the only local pharmacy to keep a full-time certified diabetes educator on-staff to help customers better understand and manage their diabetes. 

Why work to stay ahead of the curve? According to GMAP President and CEO Allen Carson the “emphasis on state-of-the-art technology helps facilitate the pharmacy’s continued tradition and emphasis on customer service.” In other words, it’s just good business. When a company is owned and staffed locally, everyone’s experience benefits. Aaron Gwinn, pharmacist and owner, summarized the idea: “Being a pharmacist in a rural area gives me an opportunity to provide so much more to my patients than that ‘big urban chain pharmacy.’” West Virginia is his home and working here provides him the pleasure to know customers by name and know they are also friends and neighbors.

Managing and organizing one’s own medical needs can quickly become an amazing drain on both time and energy. Everyone has had to spend time in the confusing, seemingly guideless world of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and medication. GMAP is intent on streamlining and improving the pharmacy process for the benefit of their customers.  Their goal is to take the worry and guesswork out of the process.  Customers of GMAP enjoy free delivery service by mail as well as weekday delivery service through their signature bright-yellow MedBug.  According to Dave Lilly, delivery coordinator and 10-year GMAP employee, the MedBug  “covers a wide territory from Alderson to White Sulphur Springs and Organ Cave to Frankford.” 

Their service exemplifies the dueling ideas of small-town life: they offer in-house charge accounts for those who want to sync up their pharmacy costs with the rest of their monthly bills (a la the bucolic “general store”) as well as a mobile app available on the iPhone and Android app-stores that allows customers to manage their prescription refills from their smartphones (very much the wave of the future). They also employ a state-of-the-art robotic packaging system to help their long-term care patients easily stay on top of their day-to-day medications.  GMAP explores every option in terms of pharmacy care. Were we living a couple hundred years ago, GMAP would be the first apothecary to offer horseback delivery and homing pigeon prescription service. 

Along with making the pharmacy process as simple as possible GMAP works to take the confusion out of understanding and managing medicine at home. They use innovative color-coded packaging materials (yellow for the morning sun, blue for the evening) as well as pill-boxes that, by individually packaging each pill in a compartment that corresponds to a day of the week, make it easy for patients to know whether they have taken a given day’s medication. When you walk into Greenbrier Medical Arts Pharmacy’s  north location (840 North Jefferson Street, Lewisburg) you’ll see a separate section of the store stocked with only medicine for children.  By separating the children’s medicine, parents can save time by not having to search shelves stocked with medicines for all ages—which may be helpful if the parent is pressed for time to get back to a sick child. 

With local employees and owners, GMAP is acutely aware of the environmental concerns of rural Appalachia. To do their part they’ve partnered with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition in working to keep medications out of the local water system and will accept any non-narcotic medication, inhaler, liquid bottles etc. to be recycled through an eco-friendly process where waste is safely combusted.

You won’t find chocolate, Gatorade, magazines or stocking stuffers at GMAP. As far as they’re concerned, that isn’t their business. Their business is making medicine as simple and easy as possible so their customers can be confident about their health. In 2014, GMAP will celebrate four decades of serving the Greenbrier Valley. When they first opened their doors, few would have guessed the technological leaps forward that would eventually become part-and-parcel of the pharmacy business.  They have embraced the quickly-evolving high-tech possibilities of the pharmaceutical world with a dedication toward improving the safety, confidence, and overall experience of customers.   Greenbrier Medical Arts Pharmacy stands as a wonderful example of how a local business can employ the benefits of new technology while continuing a tradition of fantastic local service.