Brabu Pharmacy is celebrating 10 years of being a partner of the community this month and one constant throughout those years is Ted and Kathy Parker’s philosophy of prioritizing patients and their needs.
“We do not overlook what is important and that is our patients. …Our basic philosophy is we put our patients first above anything else,” said owner and pharmacist Ted Parker.
That includes doing their best to help patients with insurance and the elderly population in helping them sign up and understand what Medicare part D is all about.
“Thinking of our patients and building relationships with them was a way of getting energy behind our project and the response actually has been very good because we are now on our tenth year,” Parker added.
The biggest change in the foreseeable future is the opening of a Brabu Pharmacy in Kagman, according to Parker. “It’s not fully functional yet but we have the front open, so people can drop things off and pick up them up the next day.”
He is steadily working to get the pharmacy’s credentials done so it can start functioning as a full pharmacy to serve the Kagman community.
But Brabu Pharmacy is not just about medicines. It also keeps a watchful eye on its environmental footprint. One aspect of that is they encourage their patients to bring in their empty medicine bottles for refills.
“My wife is in the environmental sciences and we are very environmentally conscious. …We have products that are safe for the ocean, water system and we carry things like chlorine-free bleach and natural make-up. …We now took all of our sunscreens and sent it back so we can only get sunscreen that is safe for the coral reefs and this is what sets us apart,” Parker added.
Like their patients, Brabu Pharmacy staff are also part of the family. “We currently have a staff of 12 people and we try to encourage them to improve themselves and so you can’t be stagnant and work here for the rest of your life. …We encourage them to go to school or get online classes.”
That has resulted in some notable personal milestones. Brabu Pharmacy has some staff that have completed pharmacy school and a couple of students from the Northern Marianas College they’ve mentored who have gotten their certified pharmacy technician certificates, a nationally-recognized board exam so they can go and be employed anywhere in the United States.
One example of that is Gregoria Trina T. Ito, who has been a Brabu Pharmacy employee since 2009 and started out as a cashier. Ten years later, she is now a lead certified pharmacy technician.
“Ted and Kathy are very supportive. They put me through online classes and sent me to Guam to get my written exam. …I learned a lot from Mr. Parker and he did not only teach me to be a good worker but also to be a good person.
“In the morning when I got to work, it feels like I’m leaving home to come to another home,” she said.
At this point, Ito is, in turn, now mentoring others.
After Super Typhoon Yutu hit the CNMI in 2018, Brabu Pharmacy stepped up to the plate to provide continuous service to the community. The pharmacy had a lot of hard-won lessons from Typhoon Soudelor in 2015, so it had all kinds of back-ups.
“On the second day after the typhoon, we were open but had limited hours, but one of the things that we did [is that], since our staff live in different locations, we were able to deliver [medicines] to patients,” Parker said.
That means Brabu Pharmacy staff went to Kagman, San Vicente, Dandan, Koblerville, Capital Hill and Navy Hill, and Papago. “So when people needed something, whenever our staff would go home, they would just stop by and deliver. We had stocks of personal hygiene products and took them out to the shelters. …By the fourth day after the typhoon, we were fully operational,” he added.
Brabu Pharmacy is facing the next years with providing what is good for the community and, at the same time, reinventing for the better, Parker said.
“We are constantly challenging ourselves to be better because, the minute you become complacent, you become lazy, then your patients start to suffer.”