West End Pharmacy
Corning, CA

9 - West End - AF

West End Pharmacy in Corning, California takes pride in treating their patients as family members and giving them the extra services that are only available in independent pharmacy stores.

IPC recently spoke with pharmacy owner Felix Ihekwoeme about his love for pharmacy and running an independent store. Despite the struggles that independent owners face, he still takes pride in his one-on-one interaction with customers and is happy to take the extra step to serve their needs. 
IPC:

Can you tell me about your history with the pharmacy?

Felix:

“Growing up I was always interested in health in general. I thought about going into medicine as a doctor but I wasn’t that comfortable with blood etc. so I started looking into pharmacy.”

IPC:

What made you choose independent pharmacy specifically?

Felix:

“First of all, I have a lot of clinical background, I did rotations in Florida and it was fascinating to me how much pharmacies contribute to the overall well-being of the patient. When I started working for the chains (for 12-13 years) as a pharmacy manager, I discovered I wasn’t using as much of the clinical knowledge that I expected to not because I didn’t want to, but because of pressure of time. Over the years, every chance I had time to spend with the patient was so satisfying. Knowing I was helping them was great. I realized I would have more time to focus on the patients if I moved from a chain to an independent pharmacy. I spoke with other pharmacy colleagues and the independent owners were more relaxed and satisfied with their patient interactions. I decided I wanted to try to work for an independent and use my clinical learning to help patients.”

IPC:

What are some of the biggest challenges?

Felix:

“There are different challenges in different settings. Low reimbursement is a big issue. Chains are treating everything as a business which makes it a challenge for independents. People love coming to us because we help them with their medication management. But then the patients get calls telling them they need to switch pharmacies for one reason or another and they come to us confused.

It’s a situation where the insurance company is trying to tell the patient what to do whether the patient likes it or not. That’s a huge challenge. Just last week I had a patient call me that was getting told he should go with a certain pharmacy. I told him there wasn’t much I could do but he was very frustrated because he didn’t want to leave our pharmacy. This is a major challenge in independent pharmacy. Insurance companies are pushing customers to the chains, not independent pharmacies.”

IPC:

How has your relationship been with IPC?

Felix:

“We have been open for almost three years and we have been with IPC for about two years. IPC has been very helpful with their generic pricing. That was really a big help, IPC has been very helpful to me.”

IPC:

Are there any special offerings you’d like to highlight?

Felix:

“Another thing I enjoy about being independent is being part of the surrounding community. We’re a member of the Chamber of Commerce. This morning we have an event at the local senior center to give advice on supplements, advertise our programs and more. We are really trying to be a part of the community and let them get to know more about us and our services. The chains are more about the numbers but we want to know our customers by name and get to know their personal history.”