Bay Clinic launches pharmacy

  • WALLACE
  • BELLS

The Bay Clinic opened a “one-stop shop” pharmacy in Keaau today, offering medication at highly discounted prices.

Bay Clinic patients can now meet with primary care physicians and fill prescriptions in one trip thanks to the organization’s first in-house pharmacy at the Keaau Family Health and Dental Center.

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The pharmacy is operated under the 340B drug discount program, a federal program that requires drug manufacturers to offer medications at discounted prices through providers that serve vulnerable patient populations.

“It’s designed to make medicine affordable for underprivileged people,” explained Youlsau Bells, Bay Clinic chief operating officer.

The upshot of that program is that drugs will be far cheaper at the Bay Clinic pharmacy in Keaau than through other providers — up to 70 percent cheaper in some cases, said Bay Clinic CEO Harold Wallace.

While Bay Clinic patients have been and will still be able to fill prescriptions at Walgreens pharmacies at the same discount, the new Keaau pharmacy will save patients a drive to Hilo. However, only Bay Clinic patients — from any of the clinic’s eight sites around the island — can fill prescriptions at the new pharmacy.

Patients also will be able to order medications from the new pharmacy that can be delivered to other Bay Clinic locations on the island. Bells said deliveries should be completed within a day of ordering.

Wallace said opening the pharmacy is a good sign for the fortunes of Bay Clinic, which recently purchased the building that houses the Keaau Family Health and Dental Center.

“Within the tenure of our current administration, the clinic has bought new buildings — like the one in Keaau and (the Hilo Family Health Center) — established a mobile health unit and was designated a level 3 patient-centered medical home,” he said.

The clinic also increased its patient base from 18,314 in 2012 to 21,196, and boosted its annual operating revenue by $5 million. This is a significant improvement from when Wallace became CEO in 2012, when some of the clinic’s finances were in arrears, he said.

Wallace will step down as CEO on May 1, with Bells replacing him as interim CEO. After 12 years working among the Pacific Islands, Wallace said he wants to return to the mainland to be closer to family.

Bells said she thinks Bay Clinic is in “a good place” for the foreseeable future, and hopes to expand and diversify the clinic’s existing services.

Some of those expansions will include introducing new specialty care programs such as wound care and increasing the number of school-based services offered by the clinic.

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“We’re both on the same wavelength,” Bells said, referring to herself and Wallace. “We’re going to keep growing the way we have been.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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