April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Simpson building to find new use as pharmacy

By HSJ Online [email protected]

An architectural landmark on the northeast side of the Hope Town Square will find new life as a pharmacy.

Lester Burris, vice president of Panacea Pharmacy in Bloomington, announced at Thursday's State of the Town address that his company would be opening the Hope Wellness Pharmacy in the former bank and newspaper offices at 645 Harrison Street in February.

The building, designed by Harry Weese in 1958 and owned by Ken Patton, is the former Irwin Union and First Financial Bank branch building that was then taken over by the Hope Star-Journal. Since the closure of the newspaper, the building now houses the Hope satellite branch of the Columbus-Area Visitors Center, Heritage of Hope and a gallery by the Hope Art Guild. It was renamed in honor of Larry Simpson, the former owner of the Hope Star-Journal who died in 2014.

There is no word yet on where those organizations will move after the start of the year, but plans are in the works, said Michael Dean, CEO of Heritage of Hope.

Burris said that his company was convinced by Hope Town Manager J.T. Doane that the community needed a pharmacy.

"We are very grateful to the town of Hope for having us," Burris said. "We are excited to be putting a pharmacy in here. And a big thank you to J.T., he is the one who put this all together and walked us along and got us along to where we need to be to put a pharmacy here."

Burris said the small company has two other pharmacies, one in Bloomington and one in New Castle. They are owned by Burris and two partners.

"Our philosophy is kind of to decrease unnecessary drug use..." Burris said. "People are vastly over-medicated a lot of times and instead of just filling a script to make money for us, we want people to be as healthy as possible. That is kind of the whole arc of health care at this point."

He said they want to be a resource in the pharmacy and easily accessible to the community whether for prescription questions or other medical assistance.

He said that the pharmacy will offer general pharmacy services, an automatic refill program, convenience packaging as well as med synchronization, which attempts to get all of a customer's refills on the same monthly fill date.

"Some people don't like that, they love coming into the pharmacy every day and that is great, we love to see them," Burris said. "But for those who are busy and want to cut down your trips to the pharmacy, we can work with you on that."

Doane estimated that it has been as long as 30 to 35 years since Hope had a pharmacy. Doane said that negotiations have taken a while but officials have kept the details of the announcement under wraps since Sept. 29th.

"In our discussions, until we worked out all the details, went through all the process, we decided we needed to keep it quiet," Doane said.

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