Nidhal’s Pharmacy
Farmington Hills, MI

7 - Nidhals Pharmacy - AF

Committed to Personal Health and Wellness

Pharmacy owner Nidhal Garmo has a very unique background; she grew up in a family of eight in Baghdad, Iraq until she immigrated to the United States in 1980. Upon arriving, she began working as a cashier in a grocery store and attended college at Wayne State University. The security and opportunities she found in America were unlike those of any other country. She was able to create a life for herself and her family that she could not have experienced elsewhere. When Nidhal graduated from college, she earned a position working as a pharmacist for Perry Drugs, which is now Rite Aid. After five years, she decided to establish her first pharmacy, Nidhal’s Pharmacy, as part of the Sav-Mor franchise in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her business grew rapidly and was a success.

Nidhal spent her entire childhood in Iraq, which instilled her love for her home country, as she never forgot the suffering of her people. She was determined to help after seeing firsthand how so many individuals struggle on a daily basis. In 2003, she began sending medicine, money and other donations to a few families. She immediately realized that wasn’t enough and her passion ignited and grew. She volunteered at a non-profit organization called World Medical Relief, which she considers one of her biggest blessings. After several years of working with this organization, she became their Ambassador of Health for Iraq and Jordan in 2010. With the generosity of world medical relief Nidhal sponsored and delivered herself ten medical containers to Iraq and Kurdistan in addition to another five large containers of clothes and dry food to help Iraqi and Syrian Refugees displaced by Isis.

Nidhal Garmo is Founder and President of One World Medical Mission since 2008. One World Medical Mission provides medical assistance, food and clothing to underprivileged, at risk refugees and IDPs in conflict areas such as Kurdistan, Mosul Iraq, Jordan and Honduras. IPC recently had the chance to speak with her directly about her pharmacy, read the full pharmacy profile interview below.

IPC:

Please tell us about your history as a pharmacist and how you got into independent pharmacy.

Nidhal:

“I came from Iraq in 1980 and in Iraq you don’t get to choose your schooling; they choose a college for you. In Iraq they chose for me to be an engineer and I don’t have an interest in that. I wanted to be either a doctor or a pharmacist so my dream was fulfilled when I came to the USA. If you have good grades you can choose your college. I originally was looking into pre-med when I came to the USA but the amount of time it takes to get a degree was really going to conflict with my desires to have a family and get a business going. I am so relieved that I decided to get into pharmacy. It’s a more flexible career path, especially now that I have my own business. The flexibility allows me to fulfill my other dream of doing charity work, especially after what has happened to my country. In Iraq they are suffering and they need a lot of help. I was working a lot of hours in the beginning of my career to save money for charity; I had three pharmacies at one time to try to make as much money as possible.

There are many members in the local community that come from Iraq. We translate prescription labels into Arabic so the seniors who read Arabic (90 percent of our clients) are able to read the instructions and details on the medication. In 2004 when Iraq started getting hit hard with major problems, I was traveling so much and paying so much attention to the charities I decided to sell one of my pharmacies and use the money to donate to the charity. I kept all my patients from the pharmacy that I closed; they all came from one side of town to the other and we do home delivery to help keep them as patients. From the first day I opened I’ve been doing delivery, and now we have 10-12 cities that we do home deliveries for. I started to be able to do more charity work and more missions. Life is about giving back to the community; that is what we are well known for at our pharmacy. Every day it gets better and it’s very rewarding. Working here brings me happiness and people are so grateful for everything we do. I have such long lasting relationships with our customers; it’s more like a family. People give us an enormous amount of positive feedback all the time.

I can’t imagine being in a chain, things are so different in this environment. I might even open another pharmacy on the other side of town because so many people need our help and assistance.”

IPC:

How did you pick Michigan, WI as the location for your pharmacy?

Nidhal:

“My uncles immigrated here in the 1970’s and brought my mother and siblings, and then they brought their children. Michigan is the number one state for Iraqi Christian community. When you walk around town, everything is in Arabic, including restaurants, stores, and markets. There’s a big Muslim community as well. Much like California has a large Hispanic population; Michigan has a large Arabic population.”

IPC:

Are there a lot of other pharmacies/competition in the area?

Nidhal:

“There are many pharmacies on the East side of town, but people are loyal to us because we deliver and we have a strong relationship with all our customers. One the West side there isn’t much competition; I am the one that is most well-known.”

IPC:

What are some of the struggles of being an independent pharmacist?

Nidhal:

“I’d have to say there aren’t too many struggles because it’s so rewarding to be able to help people overall. Sometimes people expect too much or sometimes there are over the counter medications that aren’t covered by insurance and they don’t understand that. The customers don’t want to pay some of the Medicaid/Medicare copays. We collect as much as they can give us.

It can be a struggle that my life has become so busy. I have made such close relationships with my customers; it can be difficult to keep up with all of their personal lives and the many people that I have become close to. That’s not a bad problem necessarily but it leaves me very little time to relax.

Another struggle involves the third party, which used to pay us so much more. Now the pharmacy doesn’t make as much of a profit as we used to. I wish we could solve that problem on a legislative level. Insurance has changed and the claims are way underpaid. We try to call the doctor sometimes, but overall reimbursement and third party is the biggest obstacle to overcome.”

IPC:

What are the biggest rewards of being an independent pharmacist?

Nidhal:

“I can’t imagine working anywhere else. I have the best team here; we love each other like a family. I have one employee that I brought on when she was only 16 years old and was working as a cashier when we just opened. I saw the way she worked and how she was with people and I told her I want her to be a manager. She was nervous at the beginning and I trained her. She is one of the best workers ever and I taught her the entire way. Since then she finished her MBA and is still with us and I take very good care of her.

I travel and I have the best team to rely on when I am gone. It’s difficult to cover all the pharmacists and pay for the place to stay up and running while I am traveling and doing charity work but it is worth it. I delivered over 19 containers (medical supplies, food, surgical supplies, walkers, clothes, etc.) and I have done so without any grants. I had to sell a lot of my properties, and my Mercedes to do that and to keep the pharmacy. I had to choose between being very rich and saving thousands of lives and I chose to save lives which makes me extremely happy. I am so blessed, and grateful for my team that supports me through all this.”

IPC:

How has your relationship been with IPC?

Nidhal:

“Very, very good, I love IPC. I learned a lot about star ratings at a recent IPC seminar. We are star rated very high because we follow everything we learn from IPC. Our management is very good of course and we don’t have any issues when we get audited; we are up to all the legal requirements, that is very refreshing.”