Serving Communities During A Crisis
Randy Harrington of Price Rite Drug is serving his community in a big way during the time of COVID-19. As the first pharmacy in the state to offer drive-through testing for the Coronavirus, Price Rite Drug is providing a much-needed community resource.
To offer this service to his community in Bozeman, Montana, Harrington had to apply and take an online test to show his store could comply with CDC guidelines. According to Harrington, getting things started was a kind of trial by fire.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I applied to become a testing site the first time around and didn’t hear anything,” Harrington said. “Then a HealthMart rep inquired if I would be interested in it so I filled out the application again and got accepted.”
Once he got started, he wanted everyone to know they could get tested at his store. He let the floodgates open by reaching out to everyone he could think of, including T.V. stations, radio stations and doctors. To prepare for an influx of visitors at his pharmacy he reallocated his Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) money to staff the testing site with two of his pharmacy technicians.
It took some work to get things off the ground and though signage was provided for the testing site, he did make some additional signage to help customers navigate.
“Our numbers are in the top as far as the number of people that we’re testing."
“We separated a drive-through area, which was a little awkward at first, but it’s like everything, once you get a system in place it works fine,” Harrington said.
The response has been significant for Price Rite, which serves a community of about 50,000 residents.
“Our numbers are in the top as far as the number of people that we’re testing,” Harrington said. “The other day we tested 73 patients in one day.”
Though there are some costs to offering this service to his community, Harrington has found it is both a good thing to do and doubles as an advertising campaign for his store.
For stores that might be considering joining the cause, Harrington said, “If you’re going to get into testing, make sure you get in it all the way. Prepare to sacrifice the man hours to do it. Be willing to spend money and look at it as advertising potential.”
Harrington said he is paid $6 for each test he completes. Every other cost is on him, including the labor, advertising and extra signage.
Price Rite is already experiencing the benefits of running the testing site as Harrington has seen people visiting the store who have never been there before.
“The word of mouth has been huge too, it’s been really big,” Harrington said. He added that even his landlord has been hearing from community members about it.
Harrington had considered cutting back on testing, but he recently heard that the tests are going to get better and that antibody tests are coming soon. If he continues offering the tests, he expects to get automatically approved to provide antibody tests.
“And that’s going to be the big one,” Harrington said.
Harrington isn’t new to offering great service for his community. He has volunteered in hospice and his pharmacy has served Bozeman for two generations now.
“I’ve had pharmacy in my blood since I was born,” Harrington said.
Harrington started working with his dad at Price Rite after graduating from pharmacy school in 1991. Before that he did a rotation at a chain store and said he hated it.
“I told my dad about my experience and he was like it’s different trust me, it’s just different when you own your own business,” Harrington said. “And he was right and when I started working with him it was fun.”
“New customers transferred to us because they had a friendly face here."
Harrington was able to learn a lot of lessons from his dad, who passed away four years ago. To this day he continues to hear stories about the $2 prescriptions delivered to far away patients and the time his dad cut someone’s hair while filling their prescription.
Harrington said most of his customers, “Are just people we’ve gone the extra mile for.”
Whether he’s helping people while volunteering at hospice or taking a look at their medications while he makes a home visit through his medical equipment business, he’s working to help the people in his community.
“New customers transferred to us because they had a friendly face here,” Harrington said.
He learned it all from his dad, who set the precedent of always treating the customer like you’d want to be treated. Harrington takes this philosophy so far that he regularly helps customers if they can’t afford a prescription, especially if compounding is required.
“Sometimes you need to take a loss to do the right thing, and win a customer,” Harrington said.
Harrington also involves himself in the community by sponsoring fun runs, a softball team and participating in other local events. He also made his deliveries more available at the beginning of the pandemic.
“I think our community service really shined during this COVID-19 issue,” Harrington said.