Join Our Team!

Springing into fall has been quite the adventure so far.

Increased demand for rx and vaccine services — both the new booster and flu shots — has stretched the capacity of our team.

This isn’t a unique happening.  More than three-quarters of community pharmacists say they are having a tough time filling open positions.

If you or someone you know wants be part of a dynamic team working hard to serve their community, apply today (either below or at https://islanddrug.com/apply ). We have openings for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy assistants, and an administrative assistant. Full or part time.

This video is a preview of the team you are joining:

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TRICARE APOCALYPSE

Well, that’s the way we see it.

UPDATE 10/25/22

Below is the back story — TRICARE moved to shrink its network disproportionately removing the ability for beneficiaries to choose local independent pharmacies.

Clinton and La Conner cannot process rx claims.

Our Oak Harbor location still has a contract that is processing claims though.

So, we will continue servicing vaccines and medications for TRICARE.

We will deliver Rx’s for Clinton and La Conner for pickup from Oak Harbor (this may take an extra day or so to arrive at the remote store).

VACCINES: we will still administer vaccines for TRICARE beneficiaries at all three locations.

Many parties are still trying to rectify this atrocious move by DHA. Here is an update on all the action from National Community Pharmacy Association:

NCPA October 24, 2022

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is the latest to raise concerns with the Department of Defense over the new Tricare pharmacy contract that excludes most independent pharmacies. In a letter to Seileen Mullen, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Kelly requested immediate action so that Tricare beneficiaries retain access to retail and community pharmacies. Kelly’s letter follows bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill demanding answers from DOD and action to ensure beneficiary access, including letters from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a letter signed by 100 members of Congress that was led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and a letter from House Armed Services Committee Member Mike Johnson (R-La.).

We will post updates here as they become available.

Original Post:

Many TRICARE beneficiaries have received letters like this.

Local Impact

How does this impact our region? A picture is worth a thousand words…

These are all the TRICARE addresses we proudly served since Jan ’21.

It is also an understatement as many of the vaccine only patients present Medicare cards, so those aren’t in this data set.

Why Did TRICARE Make These Changes?

Recently, the Department of Defense awarded a $4 billion contract to Express Scripts (to manage the prescription benefit) and at the same time reduced the size of the retail pharmacy network.

The Federal government has demanded a 33% reduction in its pharmacy network. Department of Defense leadership instructed Express Scripts to eliminate over 15,000 pharmacies from its current network.

Pharmacies directly contracted with Express Scripts were purposely not offered participation in this network for 2023. It is beyond unconscionable for the federal government to target community pharmacies in this severe restriction of provider access. This is a gross misuse of federal tax dollars paid by the very businesses being excluded.

This action will take pharmacy choice away from you, and from millions of other active and retired military and their families.

What are we doing

We are actively engaged with Senator Murray and Congressman Larsen’s office. They are working to gather information and see what can be done.

Senator Cantwell’s office has not replied (unfortunately).

UPDATE, here is a letter Congressman Larsen signed on to, waiting for Murray/Cantwell

What Can You Do?

  • Submit a complaint about your pharmacy of choice being excluded from the TRICARE network by calling 1-877-363-1303 or sending an email to DOD.customer.relations@express-scripts.com. Also mail a hardcopy of your complaint directly to:
    Defense Health Agency
    Pharmaceutical Operations Directorate
    7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101
    Falls Church, VA 22042-5101
  • Contact your U.S. senators and representative. Look up their contact information here:

https://bit.ly/fight4rx-legislators

  • Share your story on social media, tagging @MilitaryHealth, @TRICARE, and @ExpressScripts in your posts.
  • Submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Current Action

Please do not take any action on these notices at this time. As we are actively trying to achieve a resolution.

To be safe, if you are looking to get a COVID shot or any other vaccine, and only have TRICARE insurance, please come in before Oct 24 just in case there is a brief interruption.

We will have an update before the Oct 24 date. We have a backup plan in place to keep offering TRICARE beneficiaries the same access to generic medications here if there is an interruption.

Additional Thoughts

Our company has been serving those who serve for decades. In fact, this achievement was so noteworthy to our former owner, it was in his obituary:

“In 1986, Bill bought Island Drug in Oak Harbor, Wash. He added a number of innovative services, including a drive-up window, prescription delivery, nursing home consulting, compounding and homemade fudge. His was the first pharmacy on Whidbey Island to accept Champus Military Insurance, which was greatly appreciated by the families of the military personnel stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. https://whidbeyweekly.com/obituaries/william-richard-bulpin/

Express Scripts is contracted by DHA (Defense Health Agency). We are a sub-contractor of Express Scripts as they process electronic prescription claims, but they also compete against us by offering mail order services. But on a different playing field as the pricing to beneficiaries is vastly skewed in favor of mail. The playing field is set by the DHA contract.

Our message to DHA is two fold:

  1. Our role in the community is established after decades, and most recently in the vaccine rollout. Can you imagine if everyone but TRICARE beneficiaries were allowed to get vaccinated with us, the most accessible COVID vaccine site north of Seattle? This is a pic of just one week of vaccines provided during Spring 2021
  2. DHA should follow the message on the official @POTUS twitter account and NOT exploit community pharmacies. Rather, allow true competition and don’t force beneficiaries out of the local community and into certain national companies.

    TRICARE beneficiaries should hold the decision making authority on where they choose to access prescription benefits — on an even playing field.

Here is a video recap of the role we play locally.

“Thanks for Being Here” — Reflection & A Request

Being here may not be an option if the government separates us from our customers.

Inflammation Antidote

Well, that’s not a FDA-approved term, but an easy way to think about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).

Breathing 95% O2 in a pressurized chamber transforms oxygen from gas to liquid in the blood and allows for greater distribution.

Inflammation thrives in low oxygen environments1.

Can you see where this is going?

From arthritis to brain fog, increased oxygenation can be beneficial.

Inflammation and associated conditions runs with aging. They even crafted a term “Inflammaging” 2 which describes how inflammation and aging go hand in hand.

So, if HBOT is the inflammation antidote, how does it work on aging?

Turns out a new study concludes it reverses key aging markers 34.

So, who might benefit from HBOT? Anyone who has a few aches and pains plus an increasing number of birthdays under their belt.

We have specific protocols and experiences with arthritis, post concussion/strokes, cancer, Autism, and many more scenarios.

Please see our HBOT page for more details on how to get started.

  1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00324/full
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25921609/
  3. https://www.aging-us.com/article/202188/text
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213231722001240

2022-23 Flu Shots are here!

All locations will accept walk-ins, no appointment required (best times between 10a-5p), but please have the form filled out…see below.

We are also eliminating paper forms!

Please use the button below to fill out your vaccine intake PRIOR to arrival, so our team can process in advance:

Here is a preview of the flu season based on what Australia is seeing…

“Thanks for Being Here” — Reflection & A Request

We were humbled to hear these words every day during the vaccination effort.

But, Being Here isn’t a given.

That was crystalized during the COVID-19 era, especially locally owned businesses.

To continue Being Here we hope to see many of you return as pharmacy customers — Rx’s can be transferred here.

Please see this video for the full story.

Thanks for supporting us being here!

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GreaterRx: Dramatic Rx Discounts

Better than good, you might say.

We value our insurance partners, they provide a needed service.

Many though, seek alternatives to some constraints included. Monthly or quarterly fills. Mandated mail order. You get the picture.

Numerous generic drugs are cheap. Cheap enough to provide a convenient alternative. This, and our teams desire to provide a valuable service, drove us to create another new offering.

GreaterRx now offers deep discounts on bulk supplies of generic drugs.

Select a 6-12 month supply of any medication on the list and get an instant price. You can even use the included calculator to see if it makes sense for you based your copay rates.

The generic drug market fluctuates, so get your quote today!

Permanent page for future reference is https://islanddrug.com/GreaterRx, but you can get your quote here as well:

cashRx
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Please type your normal copay here, it is repopulated with an average number we see across all generics.
Please type your normal copay here, it is repopulated with an average number we see across all generics.

Based on average across all generic drugs above $0 copay

Based on average across all generic drugs above $0 copay

To lock in this price, please continue. Quote/price not valid unless form is submitted, a confirmation email will follow.

Complete the email and pickup /mail fields.

Please also check the box below acknowledging there are no insurance options with this special 6 month - 1 year pricing. This includes receiving no credit towards deductible or any other insurance spend metric.

Quote is good for 5 business days, unless our wholesaler is out of stock.

We need a valid Rx sent to us that has enough quantity to fill the quoted number of tablets above. Rx's can be faxed, sent via electronic prescription to your preferred location, or you can fill out a transfer request here.

One more thing, if you haven't filled with us previously, please complete this patient intake form as well.

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Now Serving Camano Island!

Service Excellence, Delivered Locally.

Our tag line applies once again with this latest service offering.

Camano Island lost their only pharmacy in early 2019. A story repeated all too often across the country —  2003 to 2018, 1,231 of the nation’s 7,624 independent rural pharmacies closed.

A recent JAMA article concludes “pharmacy closures are associated with persistent, clinically significant declines in adherence to cardiovascular medications among older adults in the United States”.

Back to Camano.

We just hired a pharmacist at our La Conner location. She happens to live in Camano, not too far from the old pharmacy there. Robin asked if she could help deliver our services locally.

Starting Saturday, Feb 26th, Robin will personally deliver prescriptions filled from our La Conner location to a mutual pickup point at the IGA store in Camano Plaza (directions/map here). We are starting with twice a week, two hour windows, Tuesdays and alternating Friday/Saturday. As demand increases, we will work to expand days and hours.

To participate in our new Camano Service, a simple two step is all it takes:

  1. Fill out our intake form
  2. Complete a transfer request OR ask your doctor to issue new prescriptions to La Conner Drug

For those not in Camano but in our other service areas, please consider supporting local pharmacies by transferring Rx’s our way. Thank you

Calendar is below and this page can always be found at https://islanddrug.com/camano or https://laconnerdrug.com/camano

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A Sweet Addition

Andy, our Director of Operations, added a sweet operation recently when he bought the iconic Popsie’s in Downtown Oak Harbor.

Popsie’s has long been known for its handmade popcorns, most famously its Carmel Corn. Other flavors include cheddar (white or yellow) and cinnamon.

Now, you can pick up these popcorn offerings at all of our locations!

We will also add some other specialty chocolates and popular items in store. You’ll have to check these out next visit.

For more info on Popsie’s here are the links:

Stop by and sweeten your day today!

Streamlining Rx Pickup

We are transforming your prescription pickup.

Excited?

One of the COVID-19 experiences we have deployed — both with vaccines and testing — is keyword texting. Basically, a way to queue and prioritize from the convenience of your phone.

Now, we roll out the feature to schedule your trip to the pharmacy for prescriptions.

Texting PickupRx and the details of what and when you are picking up to our public phone numbers — or using a web form — kicks off the process.

This allows our staff to ensure all your items are ready BEFORE you arrive as expected.

Then once you are here, all that is left is a card swipe and signature. No, looking, checking, finishing up etc.

In. Out.

That simple.

Here is a visual:

Why is this necessary and beneficial?

Well technically it is not necessary.

But, many scenarios exist driving us to offer this enhanced service level.

As prescriptions come into us, we don’t know who is coming in today or next week.

So, if you leave your doc expecting a prescription, use PickupRx so our staff can process your new Rx ahead of next-week guy. Want to pick it up after work? Use the example above!

Sometimes we have to special order a medication. Others we have to discuss prescriptions with insurance companies before the prescription leaves. Many other scenarios abound, but you get the point.

So, its beneficial because we can align our workflow to match your schedule.

Our staff are excited to roll this out

With the fluidity accompanying this pandemic, process changes elicit an expected response from our staff.

With PickupRx though, our team is excited to improve your experience.

Streamlined visits are more enjoyable from our side of the counter as well.

Start Today

This feature is live at all three stores now.

Our public phone numbers all accept text messages:

  • Oak Harbor 360.675.6688
  • Clinton 360.341.3885
  • La Conner 360.466.3124

Remember to include the PickupRx keyword (watch your autocorrect…it likes to throw in spaces)

So, try it today!

No phone or texting? No problem. The web interface is available here: https://islanddrug.com/PickupRx

Prescriptions not yet moved to us? That’s an easy fix to, simply transfer your prescriptions via this link. Then engage the PickupRx service.

Better Communication & Pharmacy Access — Our New Years Resolutions

COVID-19 brought many things.

For us, an opportunity to be part of a community response. Our team of dedicated staff and volunteers have performed exquisitely making vaccines available and now FREE testing.

As our company approaches 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered, we are moving to re-establish customer communication and pharmacy access.

Every time there is a change in COVID vaccine and testing guidelines — yes, it happens from time to time — our phones get overrun. More calls come in than staff on shift — by about 10x or more at times.

We are diverting some COVID-19 duties away from pharmacy staff to ensure their accessibility to pharmacy customers.

Phones / Communication

For all COVID-19 vaccine and testing calls, the staff at option 2 (for Gift Department) are set up and trained to handle inquiries. This includes assistance with appointment and the like.

While we can’t say there still won’t be times where more people call than are working, we can say the new system is working well so far.

Please do NOT ring the pharmacy staff (option 1) for COVID questions.

We also have a dedicated digital communications supervisor covering inbound email and text messages (you can text our landline numbers!) to ensure responses are issued.

Pharmacy Access

We are also separating COVID-19 testing from pharmacy customer lines.

This means when you visit the drive thru or pharmacy counter, you won’t be behind those looking to get tested!

Our testing queue will remain in their cars and only come in (for just long enough to swab) and be serviced at areas separate from the pharmacy pickup. We are managing testing via our custom texting platform, please don’t forget your phone! Instructions are provided upon registration.

This strategy will serve well to keep symptomatic people away from the general pharmacy and vaccine public as well bring back priority access to our pharmacy team for our valued prescription-filling customers.

Thank You!

We appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we worked thru COVID — especially our pharmacy customers.

As you visit for testing and vaccines, please consider transferring your prescriptions here. Our pharmacy team values the opportunity!