The Untold Stories of Melrose is a series of interviews by two senior interns from Melrose High School, Freddie Kelley and Connor Locke, who have been working in my office for the past few weeks.
Don Putney is the owner of Green Street Pharmacy.
I could have gone into medicine for free. There was a dentist here in town that told me “You have a gift of communicating with people, I will put you through medical school.” I did not want that, because there is a gap. And that gap is when the patient leaves the doctor’s office, confused and fearful of all the things they just heard, with all of the directions for what they’re supposed to do, they go to the pharmacy, and they go home. And they are now self-treating and self-medicating. Usually the last person they see before that is the pharmacist.
That’s not necessarily true in the pharmacy chains. You don’t get the consulting unless you ask for it. It’s available everywhere, I’m not knocking it, but because we know the patients well, we make sure they are counseled and they understand what to do before they leave the store. That’s why I gave up the opportunity to go free to medical school and paid to go to pharmacy school, because it was that important to me. I had the opportunity, working [in a pharmacy] as a teenager, seeing all sides of it, and seeing a need that wasn’t being met. And that’s why I went into pharmacy.
We will not make it if Pharmacy Benefit Management companies pay us only for the cost of goods. This is the big fear that we have. We are paid exclusively by prescriptions, and if they’re not paying us for anything beyond the cost of goods, that is a threat to us. That is what we’re dealing with right now.
The passion I have is for doing this kind of work. It would disturb me if somebody couldn’t help these people. If I were to be wiped out, I would have to find a way to find somebody to take care of these people. That’s just so important. To use simple terms, there is nothing in this life more important than people. If you don’t have people, you have nothing. So if you have the blessing to have the ability and the field to help people, that’s pretty special. I feel pretty blessed that I was given the opportunity to help people this way.