GHC Pharmacy; a pioneer in patient-centred care

GHC Pharmacy; a pioneer in patient-centred care

The Group Health Centre Pharmacy has been operating at the Group Health Centre (GHC) since it opened in September 1963. It has provided the community with easy access to credible pharmaceutical information since the beginning. 

The pharmacy has served the community for almost 60 years, and owners and staff have provided outstanding service to the Algoma Region.

The team’s focus has always stemmed from delivering professional, personalized service and high-quality personal patient-centred care.

The pharmacy that once started in a little nook in the corner of the lobby has grown to be a place to get all medical needs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications. 

In 1963, a local pharmacy group opened a dispensary to provide pharmacy services for the Group Health Center. Sandra Sartor became the face of the pharmacy and quickly built relationships with all healthcare providers in the building.

Ron Deluco, who graduated in 1967, was approached by Sandra and her partners to join the pharmacy team. He had worked with the group as a student and Sandra recognized his passion for the industry and hard work ethic. She was looking for someone to support the team as she had a young family on the way. 

Once Deluco took the helm of the GHC Pharmacy, he continued building relationships with nurses and physicians and quickly became a trusted source of pharmaceutical information. GHC’s nurses and physicians trusted him and his team to get things done, which allowed him to think outside the box and propose innovative ideas. 

For example, Deluco was approached by a nurse at GHC and wondered if the pharmacy had anything patients could put their medications in to help them remember to take it every day, which was the beginning of blister packs in the community. 

“Blister packs are a tool for patients to help them take their medications,” said Deluco. “It provides one card for the week, with four administration times for breakfast, lunch, supper and bedtime. The pharmacy will put the medications in each time slot, seal up the card, and label it. Instead of using medicine bottles and having to remember that they have taken their medications, the patient will know with confidence that they have taken their medication at the correct time and date.”

Not only did the GHC pharmacy help pioneer blister packs, but their early adoption has allowed the pharmacy group to become the primary blister packing operation for the district, utilizing a Vandenbrink Blister Packing Machine (VBM).

GHC’s pharmacy is able to produce blister packs for patients from it’s sister site Merrett’s Pharmacy. They are the leaders of medication packing technology in the community and are able to produce blister packs for other pharmacies as well as patients.  With this innovation, Deluco believes it sets the bar high for how patients receive care.

“We’re empowering caregivers to help take care of their elderly parents,” he said. “Whether it’s through the convenience of blister packing or if their elder parent calls the pharmacy at any time, there will be a friendly voice on the end that is happy to take the time to assist.”

The pharmacy industry has changed considerably in the almost 60 years that GHC pharmacy has been established. Deluco has very recently handed the reins to his daughters Carla Lappalainen and Marisa De Rubeis who are both pharmacists and co-owners of the GHC Pharmacy and Merrett’s Pharmacy.

“I love my profession. I love helping the patients. I loved practicing at Group Health Centre,” Deluco said. “There comes a time in everyone’s life that you need to step back, enjoy life, and let the young people carry on.”

The one thing that he has instilled in his daughters and how they practice is to continue the passion and unwavering commitment to patient-centred care and his belief that the patient’s well-being should be at the centre of every decision made.

The team at the GHC pharmacy has always gone above and beyond for the community, and almost 60 years later, it is still providing excellent customer service and quality care.

Find them at 240 McNabb St, or call 705-759-5578.  Find out more about the Group Health Centre online here.

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