While she seeks assistance herself, Dr. Shantelle Brown, owner-operator of Hope Pharmacy in Church Hill, is doing her part to help others in the community impacted by the pandemic.
Last year, VCC helped get Dr. Brown’s business established with a Small Business Administration-backed loan to build out the pharmacy and purchase equipment and furniture. Our team also helped her acquire an additional SBA line of credit for working capital, payroll, and inventory. Due largely to its location within The Market at 25th in Church Hill, Hope serves the needs of low- and no-income residents of the East End, while also catering to middle- and higher-income families from the area.
As part of the pharmacy’s response to COVID-19, Dr. Brown began producing hand sanitizer, which she is providing free to first responders and $2.50 per bottle for shoppers. Producing the hand sanitizer, she told the Richmond Free Press, is part of the essence of the pharmacy: “helping others physically prosper every day.”
How do you plan to use your PPP funds?
To keep my five employees. Although we are still up and operating, some days are slower than normal. As many elective medical procedures are cancelled or delayed as a result of the pandemic, we do not have the demand for medications to help ease associated pain or prevent infections. Many people are also heeding warnings to stay away from medical facilities unless there is an emergency, and choosing not to be seen by their physician or urgent care clinic for minor aches and pains that they would normally be seen for.
Besides creating hand sanitizer, how is Hope adapting to the pandemic?
We have adjusted very well to the coronavirus restrictions. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy has put in place General Reminders for Pharmacy Personnel to Mitigate Risk of Exposure:
- Use calming and reassuring language when patients ask for information.
- Encourage people to buy cold medicine and refill prescriptions now, if possible, so they do not have to go out if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.
- Establish a process for reducing or eliminating the amount of time older adults, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions wait in line to pick up medications.
- Implement infection control procedures, especially for waiting areas. This includes staff maintaining a distance of six feet from patients and other staff members, as well as regularly cleaning counters, waiting areas, and other spaces where public interaction occurs with disinfectant. It is recommended to clean at least every hour or after every 10 patients, whichever is more frequent. We actually wipe the payment machine and the attached pen down after every customer.
We have also placed alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol next to the checkout area so people can sanitize their hands after using common items like pens. And as nothing beats washing hands with soap and water, and we frequently do so for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching our face.
The Market @ 25th has also graciously installed sneeze guards at our drop off and pick up locations.
How was the application process with VCC?
Very straightforward. Thankfully, I had already filed my 2019 taxes so my paperwork was already in order. And as always, my loan officer, Matthew Ho, was available to answer all of my questions. My loan processor, Corbin Anderson, was very responsive and on top of things as well.