Tag: community health

Introducing our Heritage Trail video series on pharmacy history

As part of the school’s Heritage Trail project documenting the history of pharmacy in Virginia and across the world, we have worked with Ost Haus, a creative agency and video production company in Richmond, and alumnus Al Schalow (B.S./Pharm ’61) to present a series of short videos.

Each of the four videos summarizes an aspect of pharmacy history. They are narrated by Schalow and feature illustrations created originally for National Geographic.

We are proud to share these educational videos. They’re a perfect way to introduce people to the profession’s long and illustrious history, and would be ideal for young students.

(Above) Part 1: Potions and Poisons
In part 1, Schalow travels to prehistoric times and ancient lands to explore the ways plant medicines and other remedies were discovered and refined.

Part 2: Ancient Pharmacy
In this video Schalow discusses ancient civilizations around the world that discovered and refined medications that still are familiar in pharmacy today.

Part 3: Frauds vs. Folk Wisdom
Schalow examines the wild days of U.S. pharmacy that brought us patent medicines and dangerous quacks — and how the nation responded.

Part 4: Helpful and Hazardous
In “Helpful and Hazardous,” Schalow focuses on the double-edged sword of drugs that can save and enrich lives — and also endanger individuals and society.

How to Be an Entrepreneur, Lesson 3: Go Where You are Needed

Woman stands in an empty office. She is framed in a window.
Pharmacist Shantelle Brown stands in the space where her in-construction pharmacy will soon open.
By Nicole Carter
Auxiliary Label Staff

Hope Pharmacy is a new independent pharmacy inside a new independent grocery store, The Market @25th, that is projected to open March 28 in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond.

Shantelle Brown, Pharm.D., is Hope’s owner and operator. The 2003 graduate of Howard University College of Pharmacy believes she will be the first African-American female to open an independent pharmacy in Richmond. Auxiliary Label had the opportunity to speak with her and tour her pharmacy while it was in the final stages of construction.

Auxiliary Label: How did you decide on the name Hope Pharmacy?

Shantelle Brown: Well, I didn’t want to do last name. I think hope is so pivotal. It’s something that we all have or hope to have. I think it’s just encouragement. [The pharmacy’s logo shows the word with a second P superimposed over the first.] This stands for “helping others physically prosper every day.”

The Hope Pharmacy counter under construction.
The Hope Pharmacy entrance under construction.

What’s your pharmacy’s mission?

I would definitely say education. I think that’s what’s missing with the disparities that happen with the East End. And my prayer is that I’ll be able to bridge the gap between the residents that have been here for years and the new residents that are now coming into Church Hill. I had the chance to go to a town hall meeting and the longstanding residents expressed their concern that they were being pushed out, that maybe all the change is not for them. So, hopefully, with working with the grocery store and their promotion of good, healthy foods with affordable fruits and vegetables, and me being a mouthpiece for African-Americans in this area, I can relay the message to the residents that you’re wanted in this community. We want everyone to come together.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far?

Financing has been my challenge. For me, it was important not only to do this as the first African-American female [pharmacy owner] in Richmond but to be able to do it with just myself and my family. I told my husband that we need to be able to do this on our own. Thankfully, I closed on my loan at the beginning of January with Virginia Community Capital. They saw the vision and they do a lot of work with the community. Right now, for banks to give money to startups is unheard of.

What are you going to use your startup loan for?

I did a term loan for the store buildout and a line of credit for my inventory*. With any pharmacy, you’re going to be responsible to pay that bill from the drug distributor at least once or twice a month. It’s quite often. But you don’t get reimbursed from the insurance company for 45-60 days so you need to have a line of credit in order to bridge that gap.

I have a term loan for my build out and a line of credit for my inventory.

How did you figure out what kind of drug inventory your store needs?

We haven’t pinpointed exactly what we are going to start off with yet, but I’ve spoken with the old district manager for Ukrop’s [Super Markets Inc., a longtime grocery chain in Richmond that closed in 2010] and I spoke to a couple of independent owners. I learned that there are quite a few brands that skyrocket your inventory numbers, but you don’t really need to start with all those brands. Most of the time I end up sending them back. So, of course, there are exceptions. For example, you have to pay brand for your insulins. Most people say the norm for starting inventory is $60,000, but you should be able to almost cut that in half by utilizing more generics.

What advice do you have for future pharmacist entrepreneurs?

Do your research. Get the feedback from the residents. You want to be in an area where you’re needed.

Auxiliary Label is a student-created blog examining pharmacy life, education and research at the VCU School of Pharmacy from a student perspective. It is overseen by Greg Weatherford, the school’s director of communications. Contact him here.

[*This sentence has been updated and clarified.]

Dr. Rx: Diet and exercise are keys to heart health

By Tabitha Robinson

Q: My family doctor told me that I was at an increased risk of having a heart attack because I have a family history of heart disease. What can I do to reduce my risk?

A: There are many lifestyle changes that can be made to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Diet and exercise will be your mainstays.

You want to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, grains, and the healthy fats called omega-3 in your diet. You can find omega-3 in wild salmon and herring fish, shellfish, walnuts, canola oil and flaxseed. Fish-oil supplements containing omega-3 are also available. It is best to avoid salts, most fats, sweets and red meat — if you can’t avoid these foods, try to reduce your intake. The more variety in your diet, the better.

Studies show that regular exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, boosts HDL (your good cholesterol), and can reduce blood clots, thus reducing heart disease.

Walking is a great way to get exercise. Yoga and meditation can also help you relax and keep stress levels down. Being overweight can increase your risk for heart disease; these lifestyle changes can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Getting enough sleep and good sleep hygiene is a component that is often neglected. Limited amount of sleep can raise your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, thus increasing your risk of heart disease. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Cigarette smoking can increase your risk by raising your blood pressure. If you are an avid smoker, the first step is to start thinking about quitting. Your doctor can set you up with a support group or medication that can help you quit. Limiting alcohol is also a benefit. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. Both raise your risk of heart disease.

If you already have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, cholesterol and/or diabetes, it is important that you monitor and keep these under control. Make sure to always take your medications and check your blood pressure and/or blood sugar regularly. Report any changes to your doctor. High cholesterol can clog your arteries and raise your risk of heart attack or stroke. Taking cholesterol lowering medication, if prescribed, and diet and exercise changes can help keep cholesterol levels controlled.

There are some factors — such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, and family history — that you cannot change but are good to be aware of. The risk of heart disease increases with age. Studies show that African Americans are more at risk than whites. East Asians have a lower risk while South Asians have a higher risk. Hispanics are among the least likely to have heart disease. Family history plays major role, especially if you have a family member who had it at an early age.


Tabitha Robinson is a P4 Pharm.D. candidate at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy. Robinson is from Charles City, Virginia, and is a 2013 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. She holds a B.S in biology and a minor in chemistry.

Dr. Rx is a monthly publication of the VCU School of Pharmacy. It can be read in Fifty Plus magazine, available at many outlets in the Richmond area and online via Beacon Newspapers. To submit a question or to request more information, contact us.

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