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New pharmacy to focus on more human touch

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EDWARDS, Colorado – Opening a small shop takes a lot of work if you’re in the pharmacy business – the paperwork alone could fill a phone booth.

For the past nine months or so, Larry Nisonoff and Kent and Courtney Lambrecht have spent most of their waking hours working to open the new Vail Valley Pharmacy. Besides finding financing and working through the piles of paperwork required to sell controlled substances, the partners also have been on a mission to put as many local residents to work as possible.

That mission was a success. Nisonoff, the managing partner in the business, said more than 95 percent of the work done on the new pharmacy space – near the Gore Range Brewery – was performed by local companies and their employees.

A lot of those people are former pharmacy clients of Nisonoff and the Lambrechts. Nisonoff and Courtney Lambrecht are veterans of the City Market pharmacy in Vail, while Kent Lambrecht worked at the City Market pharmacy in Eagle. Thanks to those connections, the three knew just about everybody who walked through the doors.

With the pharmacy just about ready to open, the result of all that work is a combination of warm, dark wood and high technology. There are several TVs in the place, including a couple in the waiting room – which will also serve as a spot to hold health and wellness seminars. Another TV near the pharmacy lab will show advertising photos of local businesses.

The waiting room is more like a lounge, with a pair of loveseats and a handful of wooden armchairs. The idea, Kent Lambrecht said, is to make sure people are as comfortable as possible if they have to wait for a prescription to be filled.

But the lab is where Vail Valley Pharmacy hopes to carve out a niche with customers.

Unlike pharmacies in big stores, Nisonoff and the Lambrechts are able to custom-make medications for customers. Kids who have a hard time swallowing tablets can have the medication put onto flavored tablets that dissolve on the tongue. Suppositories can be turned into lineaments that are just rubbed on the skin. And there are formulas and flavorings to make easier-to-administer pet medications.

Parents can also find nausea-easing lollipops made from ginger to ease kids’ troubled tummies, the tip of a big inventory of custom-made and commercially produced homeopathic and organic remedies in the store.

“We can do just about anything with just about any dosage of medication,” Kent Lambrecht said.

That kind of advanced chemistry is something chain-store pharmacies just don’t have the time or staff to do. And getting back to doing pharmacy work on a more personal level is what drove Nisonoff and the Lambrechts to the new venture.

But it hasn’t been easy. Finding investors in this environment took countless hours of searching, phone calls and applications. To be sure the new pharmacy could handle the hundreds of different types of insurance required a separate application for each carrier, each of which was dozens of pages.

Then there were the government permits. Since a pharmacy, by definition, handles tightly controlled substances, there was a maze of federal and state permits to earn and regulations to meet.

“It’s like you have a list with a million things on it, and then you discover another list with a million things on it,” Nisonoff said.

And at the end of that almost-endless list is a patient, who can be sick or hurt or just confused about the myriad drugs sometimes required after surgery. That patient sometimes needs good advice, the kind a hometown drugstore can provide.

A patient also sometimes needs new crutch tips, a toilet riser or a waterproof sleeve for a cast. All of those things are in stock. And sometimes, a patient just needs a bottle of aspirin or a tube of sunscreen. Those items are there, too, for convenience. So is delivery service.

All those things can help someone recover just a little more quickly or be a bit more relaxed while waiting. Those are also the things the partners believe will help their new store succeed.

“When people find out they can get treated like this for the same money, then we think they’ll come in,” Lambrecht said.

“It’s time to get back to the basics of patient care,” Nisonoff said. And, he added, after nine months of work, “we’re really ready to be open.”


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