Jernegan’s Health Mart Pharmacy
New London, Wisconsin

4 - Jernegans Health Mart Pharmacy - PH

‘Caring for You and about You’ Is Jernegan’s Motto

Jernegan’s Health Mart is an independently owned and operated professional pharmacy. Their purpose is to collaborate with patients, and to achieve the maximum results from medication therapy. They give consistent, quality personal service at a reasonable price. The staff are engaged and genuinely concerned for their patients’ health. IPC recently spoke with pharmacy owners Jim and Cathy Jernegan. Read the full IPC pharmacy profile here:
IPC:

Can you tell me about the history of the pharmacy and how you got started?

Jim:

“I personally am the face of the business because I’m the pharmacist. Cathy manages all the stuff that isn’t as glamorous; the human resources, the financial end and keeping the business on the straight and narrow. Right out of pharmacy school in 1975 I knew that I wanted to be an independent pharmacist. I searched around to find the best fit. We moved temporarily to New London, Wisconsin to finish up an internship and worked for a large independent that had everything from beach balls to motor oil, candy, newspapers etc. After a while I realized that wasn’t for me because being a pharmacist is my main priority and I wanted to focus more on that aspect of the pharmacy business. At that time Cathy and I took the leap and invested in a privately held franchise based out of Des Moines, Iowa. It was owned and run by pharmacists and when we signed that contract we put in a 10 year obligation; it was about as independent as you can get. It was a professionally run pharmacy. We built a 800 square foot store in New London and from day one volume and business just took off.”

Cathy:

“Interestingly enough when Jim was done with school independent pharmacy was the abundant choice, there wasn’t a lot of big box stores aside from maybe Walgreens. Independent pharmacy was a natural decision and over the years things have changed quite a bit. Independents have dwindled but at the time in a small community that was the natural progression and an easy choice.”

IPC:

Are there a lot of other independents in the area?

Cathy:

“We’re unique to the Fox River Valley area, within probably a 60 mile radius there are only about two or three of us. Appleton and Green Bay have a lot of chains but not many independents. The numbers of independents have definitely dwindled.”

IPC:

What are some of the benefits of independent pharmacy ownership?

Cathy:

“The relationships with the customers and the one-on-one interaction are the main reasons we love being an independent pharmacy. When Jim and I chose to start looking for a buyer recently we knew that in order to continue to support our staff and our customers who have been so loyal to us, it was important to find someone with the same moral compass and the same business philosophy. We needed to find someone who wants to work as hard as we have over the past 30 years and we were lucky enough to find the right person. It truly is about those relationships that you develop over the years and the difference you make in people’s lives.”

Jim:

“We have actually turned down requests from chains at least every month and a half. People know we are older and looking to retire but we have resisted offers in order to keep the pharmacy independent. We don’t want to let down our customers and our community because the relationships we’ve created have been so valuable. People like IPC and McKesson have been really helpful in allowing us to do the right thing for our patients.”

Cathy:

“It’s not even a matter of a legacy; it’s more of a customer service issue. We want someone we can trust to take over our patients and treat them properly.”

IPC:

What are some of the challenges?

Jim:

“The biggest challenge is probably the regulatory issues that have been more abundant and stricter every year; the third party insurance issues.”

Cathy:

“It’s not a level playing field with the big boxes.”

Jim:

“The reimbursement issues…it’s like ‘sign this contract and if you don’t like it then don’t sign it’. Unfortunately it’s gotten to a point where the industry is driven by volume primarily as far as the product. We’re not here to push product, we’re here for healthcare. That’s where the relationship with your wholesaler and your buying group really come into play. They help us find some of those niches to pick up extra revenue by offering special services. They help us with the regulatory issues, which is an invaluable service. We couldn’t do that on our own in this day and age. I don’t know how anyone could open up an independent pharmacy without the help of an organization like IPC or some of the big wholesalers. The third party reimbursement issues, those are driven by the PBMs and as a single voice we don’t have any power at all. We can contact our legislators but they aren’t listening to individuals. When we can stand together as a group we can really make a difference. IPC is a leader in working on regulatory control and PBM regulation, we are seeing some states now come through and have success with some PBM regulation. That type of support from an organization like IPC is crucial.”

Cathy:

“One of our favorite portions of the conference events is being able to hear Mark Kinney (IPC SVP Government Relations) speak. He’s a hardworking, very polite man and we appreciate how politically involved he is. Mark always brings the most current information to the members, whether it is good or bad news and we are very appreciative of that.”

Jim:

“We are hoping to hear Mark present at the McKesson show this year since we won’t be able to make the Conference event in Hilton Head.”

IPC:

It’s great to hear how happy you’ve been with your relationship with IPC.

Jim:

“People think we’re small in stature but our volume is quite high. We can compete with some of the bigger chains because of things like our ATM, Jelly Belly’s, Gift Cards and Burt’s Bees…things we would have never thought of having if we hadn’t seen them at the IPC events. Those types of things give you a presence and make you seem at the same level as the big chains.”

IPC:

Is there anything else specific you’d like to highlight about your store?

Cathy:

“We have been fortunate enough to grow and reinvest back in our business. Our building fans out and is recognizable in the community. We have extraordinary staff of about 18 and they have really been wonderful. We’re a store that provides something different than the chains and we pride ourselves on that. We deliver in a 40 mile radius for free. Individuals can stay in their homes and not have to move to assisted living because of our compliance packaging. Whoever checks in on them can see they are being compliant and they can stay independent.”

Jim:

“One of the most gratifying things for me in this profession is that we do know we make a difference and that has to do with our compliance packaging. People can stay in their homes independently much longer than they normally would be able to and it’s sad when someone has to go to assisted living just because they can’t manage their medications. The compliance packaging saves them from that hazard. We package them weekly, deliver them to their house, stay in touch with their physicians and that’s so rewarding. That’s something you can’t get everywhere. We’re doing it right and we’re doing it for the right reasons.”

Cathy:

“People can get the product anywhere but they can’t get this level of service and commitment.”

Jim:

“As the profession evolves the volume will probably diminish because of mandatory mail order programs for employees. That being said…because we have so many compliance packaging patients we are able to get those plans overridden for those patients. They need the packaging and mail order pharmacies aren’t going to do that.”