The Hope Wellness Pharmacy is leading the way as the future of small town pharmacies.

In March 2019, the pharmacy received approval from the State of Indiana via the state’s pharmacy board to operate as a telepharmacy, or remote dispensing facility, which is the technical term, pharmacy co-owner Lester Burris says.

What the new designation offers is essentially for Hope to serve as a model for other small communities throughout the state, Burris says.

“When we opened in 2017 we were watching legislation that indicated the telepharmacy was going to be an option,” Burris says. “There really just isn’t enough prescription volume to staff a full time pharmacist. But this hybrid model allows us to put a pharmacy in a place that needs one that doesn’t necessarily have the volume to support a full-fledged retail pharmacy.

Burris says he will be on site one day each week for a while to help facilitate administering immunizations. 

Leading the telepharmacy’s transition on site is long-time certified pharmacy technician Teresa Turner.

Turner, who has worked in the field for more than 40 years, says she has seen many changes in Hope over the years and says this latest evolution in pharmacy care is certainly needed, especially in smaller communities.

Many small communities are called pharmacy deserts, places where residents have poor or no access to prescription drug care. Unfortunately, pharmacy deserts have become more commonplace as small communities are unable to offer pharmacy access like larger areas. Prior to the Hope Wellness Pharmacy opening, Hope was in a similar situation as area residents had to travel to Columbus and other locations to get their prescription medications and supplies.

Since the pandemic began last year, Turner says there has certainly been an uptick in community need that the pharmacy has stepped up to meet.

Currently, the pharmacy offers free delivery for surrounding areas, including Hartsville, Flat Rock, Columbus, Taylorsville, and Edinburgh.

“We were the second pharmacy in the state to be licensed as a telepharmacy and it helps the smaller communities,” Turner says. “And with me being a nationally certified technician I can be here without a pharmacist, but I always have one on duty for people to talk to or do a video chat with if they have questions.”

The roll-out of the new tele-option is just one of several changes that have come and are anticipated at the pharmacy.

When COVID happened, the pharmacy stepped up to help some local artists by allowing them to display some of their work and wares, Turner says.

Today, in addition to the artists’ works of floral arrangements and such that greet visitors who stop in, original artwork from area artists associated with the Hope Arts Guild are also on display.

As Turner looks to the future of the pharmacy, she teases that there are additional changes coming to the front of the pharmacy’s physical structure in the spring.

“I am hoping the pharmacy and its services keeps growing and it keeps helping people,” Turner says. “The importance is to help the elderly and the community as a whole.”