Carrabelle’s fervent wish for a pharmacy to serve the eastern half of the county could soon be granted.
In providing an annual report to county commissioner Dec. 14, Jim Coleman Jr., chief executive officer for Alliant Management Services, which serves as management consultant to Weems Memorial Hospital, said the hospital is considering putting one in at its Weems East clinic.
He said the idea came out of talks to create a drug discount program, which led to interest in looking at a pharmacy in Carrabelle. “When we dug into it, the location and geography, we thought this may really work,” Coleman said.
He said that given the geography of the county, and that the county’s two pharmacies, CVS and Buy-Rite, are both in Apalachicola, “there’s no access until you get over to the Walmart in Crawfordville.
Coleman estimated it would take at least $200,000, and perhaps as much as $300,000, for an initial investment, mostly to build up inventory. He said this investment could be recouped in two or three years, as the returns grow.
“In three-and-a-quarter years it would pay back all your investment,” Coleman said. “It may pay off sooner than (that) and produce more income. We’ve been conservative in our assessments.”
Weems CEO David Walker cautioned these are preliminary numbers, as the hospital investigates the costs, and that residents should not expect to see as robust and full-fledged a pharmacy as those of the chains,
“It’s a pharmacy desert, and we want to put something in that clinic,” he said. “If we do it, it will be a smaller facility in our Carrabelle facility. We want to see what we can put in there; we know there’s a need.
“You want to have the right model before you do anything,” Walker said. “We’re looking at what type of pharmacy landscape will work, what type of pharmacy retail models.”
Coleman told Commissioner Smokey Parrish the facility could either be a county-run pharmacy, or one handled by a third party.
“I’d like to see a third party,” said Parrish. “I don’t like the government competing with private enterprise. I don’t want to end up subsidizing a pharmacy. If it was advantageous to do it, it seems somebody would step up and do that.”
Duffie Harrison, chairman of Weems board of directors, said he expects the hospital board will review details this month and next. “I have confidence that the pro forma is good,” he said.
“Private entities want to make a huge amount of profit,” Walker told commissioners. “Our profit margin may not be as high but it can work if we can get a return on our investment.”
He said after the board has had a chance to review details, Weems could have a proposal for county commissioners by early March.