Drastic change can mean better service for some

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I was shocked when I was first told by the employees at Joseph P. Hall Drug Co. that the venerable downtown business would close and that they would be joining the staff of another pharmacy.

However, when the news finally sunk in, I thought that it could only mean a big change for the worse for Joseph P. Hall customers, and a good thing for wherever the employees land.

I have been a customer of Joseph P. Hall Drug Co. ever since the 1970s when the store was located on Saratoga St. Because of limitations imposed by my prescription insurance carrier, I’ve also had to patronize the larger chain pharmacies for the past several years.

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The employees at Jos. P. Hall have always displayed a loving and caring attitude toward its customers, and to my knowledge prescriptions were always filled on time, and the store never ran out of medicine. This family atmosphere was always there even before Shirley Bumgardner and her present employees were employed at the store. I always received prompt responses from the store when I inquired about my prescription drugs.

Since I have been associated with the other store, I have also experienced this caring attitude with employees on the floor at the front cash registers, but sadly, it seems to be lacking in the pharmaceutical department. Comments I’ve received from other customers I know echo my sentiments.

Many who know me pleaded with me to write about the situation at the store.

I held off not knowing how to approach the subject, but now this move has solved that problem.

Some of my frustrations range from long waits to pick up prescriptions, and medicine not being ready as promised; nasty attitudes from pharmacists filling prescriptions, and not being able to build a relationship with the pharmacist because of constant turnover. I have often felt that the pharmacist was more of a stranger, as opposed to the family rapport I’ve found at Joseph P. Hall.

As a matter of fact, I couldn’t help but notice that the pharmacist there Sunday afternoon was not there on Monday morning.

One last major frustration for me is that the store on many occasions has run out of my medication.

As far as different pharmacists are concerned, I don’t know about you, but I would like to have that connection to the one filling my prescription as I would my doctor. After all, he is giving me something to put in my mouth that will end up affecting or helping my entire body.

Along with other Joseph P. Hall customers, I will miss the advantage of paying my utility bills there and having an account at the store. I will also miss purchasing certain items that other stores don’t stock.

I also took advantage of a shortcut through the store to the West Washington Street business district many times, and even then, employees always spoke to me and were very courteous.

Now I am thinking: I know there are some people who get off the bus in the Saratoga Street parking lot to take shortcuts through the store as I did. It would be good if the city buses would stop at other pharmacies so that the elderly or anyone else without transportation could continue accessing the services-without trying to cross a major busy highway.

This columnist is living proof that time can bring on drastic changes and that we must learn to accept the things that we cannot change while living life to the fullest. As we do, let us also remember that behind every cloud there is a silver lining. In this case the cloud is the closing of a long-time reputable business in downtown Suffolk and the silver lining is the possibility better customer service at the store lucky enough to snag the Jos. P. Hall staff.

Evelyn Wall is a retired News-Herald

reporter and regular columnist.