As a high school junior, Mary Boggess took her first chemistry class and loved it. Around that same time, people started asking her what she wanted to study in college. Her mom was a pharmacy technician, and at the time there was a shortage of women pharmacists in the field so she began to consider it as a career. While in college, she got a pharmacy technician job at Kroger, and the experience solidified her decision.
Boggess grew up in Murray, Kentucky, a town that had an independent pharmacy since the 1970s. After working at Kroger, she took a position as a technician at this independent pharmacy.
“Having worked at both places, I had a good comparison of the two types of atmospheres and I really appreciated the independent pharmacy feel,” says Boggess, a critical thinker who likes to develop her own ideas and form her own solutions. She moved to Louisville in 2013 with her husband Brandon so she could attend pharmacy school. Upon graduation, she landed a job at a large pharmacy company but dreamed of someday opening her own small-town pharmacy.
“Corporate higher-ups create all these metrics, stats and percentages that you have to keep up with,” Boggess says. “The phone couldn’t ring a certain number of times. They tracked from the moment a person came in with a prescription and measured how quickly the pharmacist could get them out with their prescription. That doesn’t leave you any time to have conversations with anyone. I care about my patients, but it’s hard to show that when you have to focus on how many patients you can get in and out in X amount of time.”
Boggess desperately wanted to provide personalized service to her patients. She craved human connection that is so important in pharmacy work. After all, pharmacists can answer a lot of the same questions doctors can. If, say, a new parent is unsure of how to dose a baby’s over-the-counter medicine, they can call their local pharmacist. If a customer wonders if two medicines can mix, a pharmacist can help. At a chain pharmacy, however, they may be as inaccessible as a physician might be. For four and a half years, Boggess worked at one of the busiest retail pharmacies in Louisville.
“We had a ton of patients with a ton of problems – insurance problems, medicine problems,” she says. “Doctors would write things wrong and we were constantly trying to problem solve on top of waiting on patients walking in nonstop, answering the phone and filling prescriptions. It was exhausting.”
Boggess still tried to make time to counsel her patients and would go out into the store to answer questions for over-the-counter patients.
“I tried to squeeze in time with them, but then as soon as I got back to the pharmacy, I was so behind on things,” Boggess says.
When the load gets to be too much, pharmacists can burn out. Boggess didn’t want to risk that happening to her, so when the opportunity presented itself to follow her dream, she went for it. A colleague from pharmacy school introduced her to a friend who had a small buying group that helped to open independent pharmacies. They take care of tasks like contracting, insurance, accounting and bookkeeping, and Boggess realized this would allow her to concentrate on her passion – tending to her patients.
“This opened the door to allowing me to execute ideas my husband and I had had for so long,” Boggess says. In March of 2021, the pair opened Middletown Pharmacy & Wellness, serving Middletown and surrounding areas.
Boggess was eager to bring back old-school pharmacy care including services that have died off with chains, such as free delivery and bubble packaging with medications for patients who take multiple medications. To help prevent patients from accidentally missing doses or taking too many pills, Boggess loads their medications into blister packs (similar to plastic weekly pill boxes). Both delivery and bubble packing are a huge convenience for patients, especially the elderly population. Many people in assisted living and senior living home communities are thrilled to see Middletown Pharmacy open.
“Their families have been super grateful we are here because we’ve essentially taken over their medication routines,” Boggess says. “We want to help make our patients’ lives easier.”
Middletown Pharmacy opened in the middle of the pandemic and received a shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine the first week they were open, which brought in a ton of people right from the start.
Boggess also sells over-the-counter products, local gift items and premium vitamin supplements. By chatting with patients, Boggess has gotten to know about their jobs, hobbies, favorite foods and, of course, health. They know all about her too, including the fact that she and Brandon have two daughters, Mila, 4 and Olivia, 1. Many also know that Brandon does collision work at Boggess Body and Paint, another local operation.
Despite being small, Boggess still has to balance a lot at her pharmacy. For instance, she has to make sure she keeps her patients’ prescriptions filled so she sees what’s coming up on the horizon. If a patient is out of refills, she proactively faxes their doctor to get a refill so they are not out of medication at any point. She also makes sure she’s got drugs in stock for her patients, although as an independent owner she can’t keep a ton of inventory on her shelves. RxOneShop is your one stop shop for over the counter drugs and products, visit website for more details.
“I like being my own boss and developing my own ideas, solutions and ways of doing things,” Boggess says. “I’m a critical thinker and like to come up with solutions myself.”
Some of her patients see several doctors, which can become problematic if they struggle to keep their medications straight. Therefore, Boggess steps in if she sees that someone is perhaps on overlapping medications and could serve to consolidate them.
“As a pharmacist you want to do as much as you can to keep up with your patients,” Boggess says. “Just putting in a little extra effort goes a long way.”
Middletown Pharmacy & Wellness is located at 11601 Shelbyville Road, Suite A in Louisville. For more information, call 502-690-2410 or visit middletownpharmacyandwellness.com.