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New Vernon pharmacy drives care closer to seniors

The CareConnect IDA Pharmacy in the Landing Plaza opened doors Aug. 18

A new pharmacy in the Okanagan Landing area of Vernon aims to focus on spending more one-on-one time with patients.

Sri Chalagalla opened the CareConnect IDA Pharmacy on 25th Avenue in the Landing Plaza on Aug. 18. He previously owned a Shoppers Drug Mart in town, which he sold last year.

He decided to open the smaller independent pharmacy because there were too many other things going on in the Shoppers Drug Mart,

“I wanted to focus more on the pharmacy and the health care rather than do cosmetics, food, post office. It was just too much,” Chalagalla told The Morning Star.

Less than two weeks after opening, Chahagalla says 40 to 50 people have already signed up at the pharmacy.

“People are so happy,” Chalagalla said Tuesday, Aug. 29. “We didn’t even start advertising until yesterday when we put up the big open sign.”

A lot of thought went into the location, as he says there are enough pharmacies catering to people in the downtown and north end of Vernon, and a pharmacy was needed in the Okanagan Landing area.

“When we were looking around we were like, where is the need,” Chalagalla said. “There are so many seniors around here, and so many care homes, so I thought this is one of the best areas.

“We’re very excited to be here, and people are so happy that they don’t need to go all the way across town, because there are a lot of seniors and a lot of people who don’t have cars or who live in care homes, they can just easily walk.”

The building also has a drive-thru lane, and Chalagalla says it’s ready to go for patients to pick up prescriptions, although all consultations will happen inside.

Chalagalla got his pharmacist licence in 2006 before moving to Canada in 2010 and passing his exams. He’s been practicing as a full pharmacist for the last 13 years and this is his seventh year in Vernon.

Chalagalla says the CareConnect pharmacy will allow for more personalized, one-on-one care, and that his pharmacy is capable of doing custom compounding in its special compounding room.

The doctor shortage is changing the role pharmacists play in the broader health care system in B.C. Earlier this year, the B.C. government put in place new regulatory standards providing pharmacists with new prescribing powers. Pharmacists are now able to prescribe medications to clients for minor ailments and contraception.

Chalagalla welcomes this heightened role pharmacists are now playing in the health care system, saying pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals in the province.

“We are open every day, and for right now with our expanded scope of practice, we can do prescribing for minor ailments like minor skin conditions or any allergies,” he said. “A lot of times people are right now going and sitting in the emergency rooms.

“We can take the burden off the emergency rooms to make it easier for the whole health care system.”

Feedback on the pharmacy has been overwhelmingly positive, and they aren’t even finished setting up yet. He says a few people were knocking on the door Aug. 18, so they opened.

READ MORE: Vernon man achieves highest pharmacist licensing exam grade in Canada

READ MORE: Lindsay Dixon explains New extended prescribing powers for BC Pharmacists

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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