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Lakeside Medicine Centre Pharmacy is celebrating 50 years of adapting to and taking care of the needs of the Kelowna community.
This locally owned and operated pharmacy is one of few in Kelowna, and it has a rich history.
Over the last 50 years Lakeside Medicine Centre Pharmacy has served familiar faces, offering pharmaceutical and nursing services with an exceptional level of care you won’t see elsewhere.
“Over the years we had many loyal customers. This was the most important part of our store. Patients came first,” says Wendy Waller when reflecting on the early years at Lakeside Pharmacy.
Ronald Waller opened Lakeside Pharmacy in 1973 with his business partner and friend Fred Behrner. Lakeside Pharmacy has always been a family business, so naturally Ron’s wife Wendy managed the books.
Named with its location in mind, the pharmacy was situated on Abbott St, steps away from the lake.
“The first few years required a lot of hard work by all of us… Our pharmacy was tiny but very busy, being in a medical clinic, and we were all like a family” says Wendy.
By the 90’s they had established trust in the community with their patient first philosophy, and in many ways the original owners were ready to move on.
Greg Andreen who had worked at Lakeside as a summer student and later as a pharmacist since 1990 was entrusted with continuing this vision, becoming a partner in 1992.
He worked with Ron and Fred as a partner for six years, at the Abbott St location they had operated at for 21 years.
In 1994, while Ron was on vacation, Fred and Greg received concerning news from the doctors who ran the clinic above them; the doctors, who had contributed to the flourishing of their business were planning to move. Choosing to move with them, they quickly secured what was then the final space available at the Guisachan Village Mall.
“When Ron and I got together we agreed we’d be equal partners, so we had made an agreement that when one of us was on vacation, the other would make the decisions,” says Fred when reflecting on this pivotal moment.
Ron and Wendy’s son, Chris Waller, began working at the pharmacy at age 16, eventually joining Greg as a pharmacist and owner.
“We learned a lot from the gradual nature of the ownership changes” says Greg, noting that Ron and Fred were “great mentors, and they had a practice that was unique.”
By the early 2000’s it became apparent that there were needs to be met in the community. Lakeside responded, swiftly becoming a specialist pharmacy caring for patients on dialysis, those who had a transplanted organ, or HIV.
Having the ability to make changes like this without the delay of reaching out to a corporate office was what made Lakeside stand out.
“We knew that if something came up, we could make a change instantly and do what we thought was right for everyone involved- that was always the most satisfying part of work for me,” says Greg.
Pam Mayor joined the team in 2006, as the first nurse at Lakeside, specializing in wound care and ostomy. The services she offered, some free of charge and eligible for self-referral, greatly increased healthcare accessibility in the community.
“Having worked with many health care specialists and surgeons in the community, it was quickly evident that these services were needed…I saw this as an opportunity to supplement the care” explains Pam.
In 2016, life-long Kelowna resident Graham Foster joined the Lakeside team as a partner, working to provide the best possible care, and uphold the “patient first" ideology Lakeside operates on to this day.
Today, Lakeside Medicine Centre Pharmacy offers accessible nursing services, with a focus on compression therapy, ostomy services, continence, and foot care, as well as unique pharmaceutical services such as compounding, compliance packaging, and wound care.
With the increasing demand for patient care in BC, they are proud to work closely with organizations like BC Provincial Renal Agency, BC Transplant and the Center of Excellence in HIV, to provide medication and a point of contact for patients.
“We view our services as collaborative partners with Interior Health and other health care providers” says Pam.
The team at Lakeside aims to make everyday medical services accessible so that patients don’t have to spend hours waiting at a walk-in clinic or days for an appointment with a family doctor.
And for those who are not able to receive those services in person, virtual aid is available with the Jane App for ostomy services, TELUS PharmaConnect™ for online prescription refill services, and even delivery!
“The corporate world of pharmacy runs on numbers,” says Chris.
With 2,800 square feet of retail space and 27 employees, the majority of which are full-timers, Lakeside focuses on people instead.
The small-format centre prides itself on providing patients with a familiar face and longevity in care, addressing many of their customers by name. Unlike big box pharmacy chains, they’re willing to put in extra effort to meet the needs of their customers.
And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, they’ll go above and beyond, contacting other pharmacies and wholesalers, Waller explains “It doesn’t take long to pick up the phone.”
The staff at Lakeside have always provided compounding services, which involve mixing and altering ingredients of medical drugs to service the needs of individual patients.
“Since the industrialization of prescription, there’s been a disappearance of this skill,” says Chris, but this specialized service improves the lives of patients- and their families, after all, “It’s hard to get a kid to take a blood pressure pill.”
The pharmacists at Lakeside firmly believe there are areas of healthcare that pharmacists can be involved in, outside of the corporate mold.
Chris and the team at Lakeside are looking forward to offering more comprehensive services to patients with the implementation of an initiative that allows pharmacists in BC to prescribe medications for minor ailments. Expected to be implemented by spring of 2023, this new initiative will improve access to treatment, and alleviate stress in the health system.
“By expanding access to healthcare and allowing other professionals to look after people, we are making a step in the right direction,” says Chris about the initiative.
Looking for exceptional patient-driven care?
Contact Lakeside Medicine Centre Pharmacy by phone at (250) 860-3100 or give them a visit at 2365 Gordon Dr #112, Kelowna, BC V1W 3C2.