“I noticed there was a need because I had a lot of immigrants and other diverse people referred to me,” Afua Nutor, CEO, Hope Pharmacist told TheNewAmericans.
While working at a chain pharmacy, Afua Nutor, who emigrated to the United States of America from Ghana, West Africa always had immigrants and other diverse people referred to her. This challenge ignited the need to have her own Pharmacy – Hope Pharmacy – in order to serve this unique need without restriction.
Afua who did most of her schooling in Ghana immigrated to the United States in 2000. “I went to the University of Science and Technology where I took my Pharmacy degree and was licensed as well.”
Haven arrived in the United States, Afua did her equivalency to get licensed with the Pharmacy Professional body. According to her, “It took me about two years to be able to integrate into the system and have my professional license to practice as a pharmacist.”
I started working with a chain pharmacy because there was a required internship period. That was a time I got myself familiar with the system and the pharmacy terrain here in the United States. It was not a difficult transition.
Once I practiced at the retail for a big chain for a while, I noticed there was a need because I had a lot of immigrants and other diverse people being referred to me. I found that there were some unique needs that they had. I did realize that I will be in a good position to help them without any restriction if I have my own pharmacy.
We opened our doors in April 2014. It has been a gradual steady growth. That has been good for us because we’ve also grown into doing the work well. We have a passion for thoroughness and excellence in the job that we do. We’ve grown not too fast but at good pace that we can connect with our patients to meet their needs very well.
People are in denial that they have a chronic disease. They don’t want to be told that they have diabetics or high blood pressure.
The key thing is to educate the people. I always start with educating them on what is available and how the system is different here. I collaborate a lot with other health care professionals so that I can send people for physician visits and other health care specialties if they are needed. We really personalize the interactions.
In the same vein we educate them about the insurance that are available to them and that they already may have acquired from their jobs or things that they are eligible for that they don’t know about. Also we help with application processes if it is needed. Sometimes the paper work may be a lot and intimidating. If there are coupons we could help them to apply for, we do that too. It has brought a lot of people to us because of this.
Most of our patients tell their doctors to send their prescriptions here. Sometimes, after a previous interaction with them, they come back. The good thing has been that when they come and they need a doctor’s referrer and we do the referrer, they always come back with the doctor’s prescriptions. It’s a win-win. We give them back and they come back. Because we’ve built a personal relationship with them, they come back.
We typically will give free vitamins to our first time prescription patients. We also offer free diabetics counseling. We specialize in diabetics as a pharmacist because it is becoming one of the predominant and of big concern. Now diabetics is affecting the juveniles as well, even type 2. We do a lot of counseling, we have a counseling area, we do flu shots, basically immunization, and that has really opened doors.
I am hoping that Hope Pharmacy will be a destination to any health care needs that anybody might think of. If they think of their health, preventative health or maintaining their health, people will think about us, that we will be the first point of call.
I am passionate about stressing preventative health and chronic disease management. These are areas that a lot of people fall short. There is a lot of medication and advancement in medicine that we are not taking advantage of. People are losing their lives or not having optimal health because they are not maximizing the opportunities that are available.
We come to be the gap and advocate because a pharmacist is the most accessible health care professional. You can walk into a pharmacy any time and be able to talk to pharmacists and they can direct you to where you should be able to go. We want to be visible and to be available to help out our patients.
People are in denial that they have a chronic disease. They don’t want to be told that they have diabetics or high blood pressure. They think once they take the medicine for a month that they are good. We have to educate them to let them know. If you want to have good quality of life you have to control these chronic disease such that you have a longer healthier life and not have kidney disease in the end or any complications. A lot of people are maintaining and managing their diseases well because they are complying with their medications. They are seeing their doctors for checks. Science is so well advance that it hurts to see people hurting when there is help. The education piece will help people come on board, take good care of themselves because it is less costly in the long run to take care of it while it is in the initial stage before you have any complication. If you can do that the total cost of health care will go down. /TNA
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