By Jerry Jennings
When Sherolyn Torres goes to work at Tucker's Pharmacy, she has a pretty good idea of what tasks she will doing in the course of her day - just not necessarily in what order.There's always plenty to do; running the registers, stocking and re-arranging product, general cleaning, advising customers about over-the-counter meds and medical supplies, dusting and rearranging shelves, making home deliveries, sanitizing rental equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.), restocking pop machines, sweeping, mopping floors and shoveling snow in bad weather, and many other tasks too numerous to list.
Sherolyn, a 2000 grad of Miller City High School, has been working at Tuckers for ten years next month. After getting a degree in Medical Assisting from the University of Northwest Ohio, she applied at Tuckers, starting at the front desk running the register. She has been at Tuckers ever since. "It's just a great place to work. Roy (owner Roy Klass) is a family man, understands family emergencies and if he possibly can, he works with us when we need time off. Because of that, we work extra hard for him."
Since starting at the pharmacy, she has progressed to primarily working behind the prescription counter, assisting the pharmacists. She shares that duty with three others, Deb Ackerman, Marilyn Metzger and Kathy Schnipke.
These ladies are the ones who most directly work with the customers. "When you're an independent business competing with the chains, customer relations are crucial," she noted. "All of us know that. We know our customers and their families. No one who comes in here is treated like just another number. Our customers come here because they need to get their meds and other supplies. We work hard to make sure they get them, and at a price they can afford."
When it comes to prescriptions, that's not always easy. One of the sometimes frustrating parts of the job is being the "middle man" between the customers and insurers, doctors offices, etc. This means Sherolyn and her colleagues need to be able to communicate clearly, concisely, and in a professional manner with customer's on a face-to-face basis and with customers' (some of them out-of-state) insurers and prescribers over the phone. The process also requires considerable skill in using the software dedicated to the prescription process.
Preparing the prescriptions themselves, of course, requires great care. Though all prescriptions are checked by a pharmacist before being given to the customer, the pharmacists rely on these ladies for much of the prep work - getting the right drugs from the shelves, counting the pills and capsules and/or mixing and measuring the liquid prescriptions, the pharmacist explains to the customer about how to use the meds, which is sometimes complicated information-as well as highlighting allergy warnings and possible side effects. And of course what is covered and what isn't, by insurers. "There's no room for error," Sherolyn noted.
Just as important and rigidly observed by Sherolyn and others who work at Tuckers, are the rules for confidentiality under HIPAA. "This is private information. We keep it that way."
Sherolyn is married to David Torres, who works at the Whirlpool plant in Ottawa. She has three children at home, one of David's, Mikayla Torres, 15; (Dave's daughter, Sherolyn's stepdaughter) and Caden, 7, and Payton, 5.
"I think the biggest thing I've learned from working here is how crucially important customer service is," she said. "Customers come here from all kinds of backgrounds. One bad experience can cost us a customer, and maybe others by word of mouth. We have to go the extra mile to meet their needs if we are to compete with the chains."
This has required a lot of flexibility on the part of Sherolyn and her colleagues. The business has changed with changes in Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, with more changes upcoming under the Affordable Care Act. Mail order, increasingly pushed by insurers, has been a big challenge as well.
However, with employees like Sherolyn and her colleagues, it's a good bet Tucker's Pharmacy will keep successfully meeting those challenges.