Patients see their primary care doctor once, maybe twice, a year. But they see their pharmacist every month when they pick up their prescriptions.
Terrel Chapman, DPh, considers that a big opportunity –for building relationships, educating patients and improving health in the underserved Memphis neighborhood to which he’s devoted his career. Chapman oversees Regional One Health’s new pharmacy in the Cash Saver grocery store at 1977 S. Third Street, in the same shopping center as our South Third Primary Care clinic.
Chapman is a familiar face, having spent over a decade at the location managing a pharmacy he owned and then sold to the Kroger Co. Even more importantly, he’ll be a trusted ally in helping residents obtain and utilize the medications they need to improve their quality of life.
“When I interact with a patient, the first thing I do is call them by their name, and then I try to develop a bond with them,” he said. “When people come to me, they’re already sick, and they don’t want to talk about being sick. I engage them in conversation about everyday things, and I ask the question, ‘How can I help you today?’
“It gives them the chance to open up, and then I create a dialog.”
Chapman’s belief that a pharmacist should do much more than call out a name and hand over an order – combined with a steady, gentle demeanor that immediately puts people at ease – makes him the perfect fit at the South Third Pharmacy.
After growing up in the Mississippi Delta, Chapman taught biology at the high school where he graduated. But four years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps awakened a new passion: patient care, specifically in the pharmacy field. “I saw how they were helping people and talking with people and interacting with people. When I was discharged, I decided to go to pharmacy school.”
He chose the University of Tennessee because it was close to where his now-wife was attending graduate school, and his fascination grew.
Upon graduation, Chapman started his career managing a mental health pharmacy, his first foray into the South Memphis area where he is now a fixture. He then moved to a large chain, which was fortuitous for two reasons – it let him stay in the same community, and it introduced him to Dr. Charles Champion, a Memphis institution who spent decades serving the neighborhood. “I jumped in his back pocket and I stayed there. I followed him everywhere, and learned how he walked and how he talked. He was my mentor,” Chapman said.
The two men shared a passion for the kind of customer service that today feels like a throwback: Getting to know people by name. Asking after their kids and grandkids. Taking time to ask them what’s wrong if they look rundown.
Chapman carried that philosophy with him when he realized his dream of opening his own drugstore, which brought him to the South Third Street location. “All of my professional career has been in that area,” he noted. “I feel like part of the community, without a doubt.”
Matt Wilson, PharmD, Regional One Health Outpatient Pharmacy Manager, said Regional One Health is proud to have Chapman onboard. “We are excited to bring him back home. His heart is in this community and we look forward to the positive impact he will make with patients’ pharmaceutical needs as well as overall healthcare needs,” Wilson said. “Terrel practiced and had a successful pharmacy in this neighborhood for decades. He is a healthcare professional that the patients respect and trust, and is a pillar in the community.”
And he knows the community well. Chapman realizes many of his patients are elderly and on fixed incomes, and that some of the common conditions he’ll help treat include diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure. They can all be well managed if patients take their medicine as directed, but Chapman also realizes that, due to limited resources, his patients may skip doses or go off their medication because they’re forced to choose food or shelter over prescriptions.
He said Regional One Health is well-positioned to address those hurdles to good health: its commitment to making medication affordable is crucial, and having the pharmacy in walking distance, in a grocery store where patients already shop and in the same plaza as the South Third Primary Care clinic removes some huge barriers.
“It’s a win-win,” Chapman said. “They can walk from home to the clinic, then just walk right up the sidewalk to the grocery store and to the pharmacy.”
There, they’ll find a friendly, familiar face waiting with not only their medications, but with helpful guidance.
“I can offer counseling on a day-to-day basis and be involved in everything from nutrition to how to achieve the outcomes from the medication,” Chapman said.
“Once people know you’re sincere about wanting to help them, they open up about personal things, because they trust you. Then, you can get them on the path where they’re trying to go. I’m really excited about going back there and creating a situation where I can meet their needs.”
The South Third Pharmacy offers discounted prices on many generic medications and has a private area for pharmacist consultations. Most insurance plans are accepted.