CRESWELL – Cassandra Stuckey believes that the pharmacy industry is out of touch.
She and her team are here to fix that, starting first with customer care.
On Tuesday, May 3, the Creswell Chamber of Commerce hosted its first ribbon cutting event since its revival, welcoming Emerald Valley Rx to the community at 176 Melton Road.
ERIN TIERNEY / THE CHRONICLE - The Creswell Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Emerald Valley RX on May 3. From left is Creswell Chamber secretary Daniel Merrill, RX staff member Lupita Bracamonte-Clark, Chamber engagement coordinator Ruth-Ann Seim, RX staffer Kayla Wimberly, pharmacist and owner Cassandra Stucky, Chamber ambassador Jessica Ruth Baker, RX staffers Arielle Courtney,and Stephanie Paul.
“A lot of people talk about opening up a new business, and it takes a lot of risk, courage, time and commitment to do that,’’ said Daniel Merrill, Chamber secretary. “But every time a new business opens in Creswell, it creates new opportunities for our local economy.”
Stuckey, Emerald Valley Rx owner and pharmacist, is a Missoula, Mont., native, and moved to the Willamette Valley in 2010. Since then, Stuckey has worked at area pharmacies in various capacities, including at Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Bi-Mart, and briefly helped out in a pinch at Creswell HealthMart after Walgreens bought out and closed down Bi-Mart pharmacies.
“The past 12 years, I’ve seen pharmacies take a really nasty turn. People have become numbers. Employees have become something to burn out and discard. Emerald Valley Rx gives me an opportunity to change that,” Stuckey said. “I want to put patients’ health care first more than anything else … That’s what me and my team are after.”
ERIN TIERNEY / THE CHRONICLE - Cassandra Stucky, center, is proud to open Emerald Valley Rx in Creswell.
Stuckey’s team includes familiar faces from the former Creswell Bi-Mart pharmacy, like Lupita Bracamonte-Clark and Kayla Wimberly, as well as Arielle Courtney, who has worked at Bi-Mart’s central office in Eugene, and Stephanie Paul, who worked with Stuckey at Fred Meyer.
With customer care the the core of Stuckey’s mission, she’s drawn from her professional experience to learn what works and what doesn’t for customers and staff.
At Fred Meyer, Stuckey established clinical programs in her district, which ranged from Salem to Medford. That role included medication therapy management – where a pharmacist pulls a patient aside and goes over a patient’s medical profile and medication history to ensure that all medications are synching up.
That model has changed over the years, Stuckey laments, noting that many pharmacies now simply give patients a quick medication overview at the pick-up window.
“The new method doesn’t allow time to pull a patient back and actually have quality interactions,” Stuckey said. “That was around the time (pharmacies) started really declining in their customer service.” Add on a sometimes 45-minute wait in a pick-up line, and the hassle of trying to get someone directly at the phone from some pharmacies, and the patient’s experience becomes diminished – not to mention the pharmacist’s ability to effectively do their job, she said.
The backslide in customer care has fueled Stuckey’s motivation to open an independent pharmacy.
“I’m tired of seeing patients and employees suffer because of big box stores looking for a higher profit,” Stuckey said.
In addition to medication therapy management, Emerald Valley Rx services include prescription services, vaccinations, travel consultations, curbside pick up, and can offer emergency services to patients in need of a vial of insulin or an inhaler, should the patient’s doctor be unavailable.
The gift shop section includes locally-sourced items like handmade soaps by the Feisty Wren in Pleasant Hill and honey from Beetanical Apiary in Creswell.
ERIN TIERNEY/ THE CHRONICLE - Community members and leaders mingle at the Ribbon Cutting event for Emerald Valley Rx.
While at the ribbon cutting event, Chamber ambassador Sandi O’Brien perused the metalwork displayed on the jewelry racks. A pair of dainty American flag earrings caught her eye.
“These would be perfect to wear for the Fourth of July Celebration,” she said.
There is also an assortment of bright, woven and beaded items from Guatemala, a country that is especially close to Stuckey’s heart.
“My pride and joy are the items from Guatemala,” she said, as is demonstrated by the photos of past missions in colorful frames displayed among the merchandise. “I have gone there every year … for seven years, on medical missions with the Cascade Medical Team,” where she coordinates medications, ordering and pharmacists for surgical and clinical care.
ERIN TIERNEY/ THE CHRONICLE - The gift shop portion of the pharmacy showcases some of the owner's medical mission travels to Guatemala, and also souvenirs from her trips.
The pharmacy also offers over-the-counter medications that have been hand-picked.
“I’ve really tailored the OTCs to what is ideal for people to take,” she said. Based on clinical trials and research, “if it’s not beneficial to the patient, I just completely eliminate them from my shelves.”
Stuckey and her team are eager to get to work.
Emerald Valley Rx is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
“Once the ribbon’s cut, we start our day, and we do what we do best: we take care of people,” Stuckey said.