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Three continents for one old-style pharmacy

by Rich Lewis

@lewis4ink

Long lines, insurance hassles and anonymity across the counter. The creeping idea that you are nothing but a policy number rather than a real person seems to be the medical norm these days. At one new business in Greensboro, there’s a gentleman that has been a pharmacist on three continents and he’s got a new, but happily familiar, way of running his business.

“The business of pharmacy isn’t just about making money,” Adler Pharmacy’s Clement Ebhodaghe said. “You have to treat each patient one on one if you want to make a difference in their lives. It can’t be just profit, profit, profit.”

Ebhodaghe has seen the pharmacy practice around the world and worked in each of its styles, from clinical to retail to hospital. He started off his career in his native Nigeria, studying pharmacology at the country’s University of Benin in the state of Edo. After two years of internship and certification there, he decided to add European style pharmacology to his knowledge base.

“Nigeria’s pharmacy practice and the United States are very similar, they are interlocked,” he explained. “In Germany (where he went on to practice and study) herbal medications are very prominent and I fell in love with it.”

He said that herbal and homeopathic medications are used along with or instead of other medications there as a normal course of treatment. “You’ll go to a pharmacy and explain what you need and the pharmacist will mix the herbs, roots and powders you need, you take them home, steep them in hot water and drink the tea that comes out of it. The pharmacist uses a formulary book that tells him how much of each he needs to use and those formulas have been used and refined for centuries.”

“I intend to do that here later,” Ebhodaghe continued.

After becoming fully licensed in Germany, which included not just pharmacological work but also learning academic-level German, his work actually led him on to an association with the United States that would eventually bring him here to North Carolina. While working with a German pharmacy, he applied for a position working as a pharmacist with the US Army Clinic in Hohenfels, Germany. He got the position and worked with them from 2000 to 2005.

Because the position required working with American troops and their families, it required him to be able to be certified in the US as a pharmacist. As he said, luckily the Nigerian and US pharmacy systems are very similar. He once again had to learn a new language, English, at a level that would allow him to work at a very technical level. It was during this time that he really fell in love with the US as he traveled to the States each year for certification and additional training.

In 2005 Ebhodaghe immigrated to North Carolina and started a 1,500-hour internship at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem. After completion of that, plus testing for certification, he moved on to manage a Wal-Mart pharmacy in the city for eight years. It was that time that led to his opening of Adler Pharmacy in December of 2015.

“I saw the change in the business there,” he said. “I went from working with customers and filling prescriptions to managing a team, handling staffing, promotions and everything. We went from having a large staff to having 120 pharmacy hours to fill, but only being allowed 50 hours of staffing to work with.”

Eventually, he said, he realized he had to have a change. He wanted to put the emphasis back on the patient and taking care of them as individuals and having an independent pharmacy was the only way he could see as really taking care of his community.

“It takes that one on one approach to make a difference,” he said. “If you know your pharmacist and they know you, they can take better care of you. Here, I can monitor their medications and take care of their refills. When they run out, I can go ahead and contact their physicians right then, rather than wait for the patient to come in, stand in line and then find out we have to call their doctor.”

And it goes beyond that, too. Adler Pharmacy is offering home delivery, something that used to be standard practice for neighborhood drug stores, but has been lost to the big chain stores that dominate the market today.

“We’re out there to take care of you,” Ebhodaghe said with quiet confidence. Adler Pharmacy is located at 1320 Lees Chapel Rd. in Greensboro. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. You can give them a ring at 336-897-3812. !

RICH LEWIS is a father, husband, writer and cook who makes his home in Greensboro, NC.

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