By Anna Jauhola
Kittson Pharmacy is set to open in August inside the Kittson Healthcare Clinic on the south end of town.
The space occupies the former human resources office and will be a full service facility for in-house and outside prescriptions. The pharmacy will be a for-profit entity, meant to be a revenue source to support the nonprofit Kittson Healthcare facility, said Rebekah Coffield, public relations.
In the search for a pharmacist, Kittson Healthcare’s ad reached far and wide, eventually landing in front of Solomon Baah. Baah, who earned his doctor of pharmacy degree at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, is excited to open the pharmacy on Aug. 5.
The idea has been in the works for some time and before Kittson Healthcare could move forward with establishing the business, they needed to hire a pharmacist. So, with potential floor plans in hand they interviewed and hired Baah.
“I saw the challenge of having to be part of a team that is building a pharmacy, which is my main responsibility, and then manage it – that’s what drove me,” he said of accepting the position. “Then I looked at Hallock on the map and woah!”
At first, the low population and remote location stunned Baah, but as he looked at all aspects of moving to the area, the position was more appealing.
“Then on second thought, I like my patient interaction, getting close to my patients and getting to know them by name,” he said. “It’s the best opportunity that came my way.”
The trick was convincing his wife, Margaret, of the potential in taking the job. Baah said when she saw his excitement she agreed to his decision. Margaret is a nurse in an intensive care unit in the Twin Cities and is currently looking for a position in the Hallock area. When she finds a job, she and their son will move north.
“What really cemented the whole idea of coming here was the warmth I received from the people working here, especially Nicole (Johnson) and Jon (Blomquist),” Baah said. “I thought this is a place where I’d like to be.”
Baah and his wife emigrated from Ghana, West Africa, about 20 years to the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area. They moved to Minnesota when Baah wanted to get his PharmD. He has experience at Walgreens as an intern, and then managed pharmacies at Cub Foods and Kmart in the Cities.
He also has experience with customers not fully understanding his thick accent.
“I know I talk fast. I know I have an accent. But just be nice to me – nudge me – and say slow down!” Baah said with a laugh. “Just come in knowing that your needs and cares are mine as well.”
He understands that it’ll take a bit for the community to acclimate to him. He has experienced customers who haven’t wanted to accept him as a pharmacist or pharmacy manager.
“But in time, these people became some of my best patients,” he said. “Just be comfortable when you come in.”
Until the pharmacy opens in August, Baah is working hard to finish setting up furniture, cabinetry and the computer system so he is ready to receive his stock of medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter. He is also working to ensure the pharmacy is fully able to accept Medicare, Medicaid and as many insurance carriers as possible.
“We plan to be open by the last week in July to test our systems and make sure everything works well,” he said. “We want everything working seamlessly.”
Baah stressed that the pharmacy is a community facility. It is not just for those who visit the clinic or hospital.
“That’s the beauty of what we’re doing here now. That is one thing that pulled me in,” he said. “I can’t wait to get this place running. I’m just too passionate about it. My goal is to have this pharmacy be the best pharmacy you’ll want to get to.”
He said being a pharmacist has evolved tremendously over the last few decades and is far past being the person who counts pills.
“Pharmacists can help determine what the best medicines are for each patient in terms of improving outcomes, in terms of preventing diseases, in terms of reducing symptoms,” he said. “There’s so much more pharmacists are doing.”
Kittson Pharmacy will offer name brand and generic prescriptions and other drugs. Should they not have the brand a customer is looking for, Baah said he can order it in and have it the next day. Should it be a medication a customer needs immediately, he will find another facility that has it and send the prescription there.
As a part of standard procedure, when the clinic or hospital sends a prescription to him or someone calls in, Baah has a 15-minute timeframe in which to fill it.
The pharmacy’s slogan is “Your Health, Our Care” and Baah said that ties right into the fact this pharmacy is being established to serve the community and surrounding area.
He is working hard to make sure he can provide the best possible pricing and other conveniences to provide the best service.
“This is a dream that has come true,” he said. “It’s come at a time that the community should be excited about because we all want improvement in our health status. And your community pharmacist is someone you can trust to lay that road for you.”
The facility will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.