Brabu Pharmacy looks out for Saipan’s total wellbeing

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Posted on Jun 20 2011

Brabu Pharmacy and Wellness Center, a relatively new and up-and-coming pharmacy on Saipan, is celebrating two years of ministering to the total wellbeing of island residents.

It was June 18, 2009, when owner and manager Theodore R. Parker, a registered pharmacist who was employed at another retail pharmacy, established his own company to promote the concept of total wellness.

Brabu’s mission involves enhancing individual health and a positive sense of self through programs that provide opportunities for personal growth, improved health and livelihoods, and living conditions while preserving and restoring the island’s green spaces and surrounding environment that sustains the sense of wellbeing.

What he enjoys most in his profession is that he is able to “build and create things that would benefit the community.”

“It’s something I enjoy doing,” Parker told Saipan Tribune in an interview at their location at Akari Building in Gualo Rai.

Parker graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Illinois in 1986. For the next three years, he honed his managerial and technical skills managing a large independent pharmacy in the Chicago area, with particular interest in modernization of the field through pharmacy computer systems.

In 1989, Parker moved to Saipan to work at the in-patient pharmacy of the Commonwealth Health Center, where he met his future wife, Kathy Yuknavage, then a medical technologist and now Brabu’s co-owner.

Both Parker and Yuknavage left in 1992 to pursue higher studies at the University of Washington, the former taking up masters in Public Health with emphasis on International Health and the latter studying for a masters in Environmental Health Technology.

Both returned to Saipan in 1996, the year when Parker started working at PHI Pharmacy where he served as general manager from 2002 to 2008.

“I really like the idea of competition, the idea of giving people a choice,” said Parker when asked why he decided to set up his own pharmacy. “With competition, services will be better and there is a tendency for things to be less expensive.”

“Another reason why I wanted to build a pharmacy here on Saipan is that my wife and I are committed to this community and we wanted to have something to call our own,” he added.

[B]Brabu as a way of life[/B]

When it was time to come up with a name for the pharmacy, Yuknavage had a brainstorming session with a friend.

“I wanted a Chamorro word that would best describe total wellbeing—physically, emotionally, mentally. I wanted a word that encompasses all these things,” she said.

Yuknavage’s friend came up with two words: brabu and hinemlo. “Brabu fit a little better than the other word,” said Yuknavage.

Brabu Pharmacy and Wellness Center, which started with only Parker, Yuknavage, and lead pharmacy technician Trina Ito as staff, has added several employees to its organization—including visiting pharmacy interns and student apprentices—who strive to build lasting relationships with their growing clientele base.

“You cannot get better staff than ours. Our team, which are all long-time residents in our community, makes sure that we connect and relate to our clients. There’s a certain feeling of comfort that people have when they visit Brabu,” said Parker.

As part of its total wellbeing principle, Brabu Pharmacy and Wellness Center also takes pride in carrying an array of organic and earth-friendly products—from supplements and skin care products to household cleaners and laundry materials—as well as locally made products like daok and coconut oils.

Brabu Pharmacy and Wellness Center also promotes a no-plastic policy, spearheaded by Yuknavage, by encouraging all staff and customers to use reusable bags instead of plastic bags. Brabu even carries handwoven bags made by the people who receive assistance at Guma Esperansa to help exhibit their talents and help them earn revenue.

Customers who are in need of certain products and items can also place an order at Brabu, which will work on getting them shipped to the island at no extra cost.

“The whole point of being ‘brabu’ is to focus on the well-being of people, to give an overall feeling of well-being in all aspects of one’s life,” said Yuknavage.

With their growing success, Parker disclosed that the community can look forward to better services as they plan to expand and make room for enhanced growth. “It’s not about making money but being able to meet and exceed expectation and helping the community in the process,” he added.

Visit Brabu Pharmacy and Wellness Center at 101 Akari Building in Gualo Rai, next to Carrier along Middle Road. They’re open Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm, and Saturday, from 9am to 1pm. All major credit cards and insurances accepted. A 10-percent discount applies to senior citizens (55 or older).

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