I am posting the following on behalf of Bruce A. Heitkamp, the Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer of the City of Adrian.
The City of Adrian, MN had uninterrupted pharmaceutical services provided to its residents for nearly all of its 131 years of existence. In March of 2008, everything changed as the door to Adrian’s only pharmacy closed. The closing had an adverse affect on the entire community and left residents scrambling for a way to take care of their prescription drug needs. As the City considered a pharmacy vital to the community’s health and well-being, the City Council directed City staff to quickly find a replacement. That is when the idea of a tele-pharmacy using video and two-way interactive communication entered the picture as a viable option.
At that point, the City’s mission was to restore a vital service to the community by means of broadband technology. The goal was to have a tele-pharmacy operational in Adrian. Although this business model was a rather new approach to the delivery of pharmaceutical services, it seemed one of the few viable options to provide the services to small rural communities.
The State of Minnesota is projected to lose at least fifteen rural pharmacies in 2009 and those communities will most likely face the same situation Adrian faced in 2008. One of the problems is newly graduated pharmacists are in high demand. The opportunities for pharmacists are so great that owning and operating a fully-staffed small-town pharmacy has little or no attraction. And with margins being cut, the risk doesn’t outweigh the rewards. With that in mind, the concept of a tele-pharmacy made sense. Without a doubt, the tele-pharmacy worked into the City of Adrian vision.
A tele-pharmacy serves the public in the same capacity of other pharmacies. The only difference is the Pharmacist resides in a remote location. Customers can still consult with a Pharmacist in a tele-pharmacy. The consult is provided through video and broadband technology.
The City of Adrian decided to search a partner to provide tele-pharmacy services to its residents. Sterling Drug, from Worthington, MN, answered the City of Adrian’s call. A new dilemma soon arose though as Adrian and Sterling Drug started to investigate the process of implementing a tele-pharmacy. The video conferencing and supportive equipment cost in excess of one hundred thousand dollars. Upon that discovery, Sterling Drug requested financial assistance from the City of Adrian.
City staff started the search for assistance. After a few phone calls, staff discovered the Light Speed Grant Program, sponsored by the Blandin Foundation. It seemed to be a perfect fit for the City’s dilemma. City staff attended an application meeting and was soon off to enter their application. It wasn’t too long and the Blandin Foundation notified the City with their willingness to assist. The City of Adrian obtained a grant for $50,000.00. This was exactly the amount of money Sterling Drug felt they needed to get the tele-pharmacy running.
It’s been a few months since the award and Sterling Drug-Adrian is fully operational. Clients are joining the pharmacy on a daily basis. This project could prove to be a new standard for pharmacy services in small communities.
The City of Adrian would like to thank the Blandin Foundation for their willingness to assist with this project. We’d also like to thank Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors, for getting us started on this endeavor. The project could have been in peril without the Blandin Foundation and Bill Coleman’s assistance.
The City of Adrian recommends working with the Blandin Foundation and Bill Coleman on projects like this. I, Bruce A. Heitkamp, would offer to assist communities by sharing our story and our path to getting assistance. We at the City of Adrian wishes everyone well. If you’re stopping through Adrian and need pharmacy services, we’re proud to announce that Adrian is again offering these services.
Bruce A. Heitkamp
City of Adrian