The one sure thing about the pharmacy industry is that nothing is for sure. The last two years are a testament to this: an ongoing pandemic that’s changed the global norm and another crisis in the monkeypox scare.
It’s hard enough for an independent pharmacist to open their practice and keep their head above water. But to deal with a global health crisis and open a small business?
Enter Chris Schaffner’s journey to owning and operating an independent pharmacy.
In April 2018, Chris opened Schaffner Pharmacy, a certified healthcare destination focused on delivering exceptional patient care.
Based in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, Schaffner Pharmacy has accumulated a large following in the Skagit County community through its Facebook and Instagram pages — and it’s only growing.
Chris takes special pride in creating meaningful relationships with his patients, such that they genuinely look forward to picking up their prescriptions.
“My favorite thing is the interaction with patients,” Chris says. “I love making that personal connection with patients, helping them solve problems with their insurance or medications. I think often we serve as patient liaisons or navigators, helping guide them through this industry.”
Above the stellar patient care, what makes Schaffner stand out from the independent pact is its very own coffee shop, Apothecary Coffee. Just like its parent pharmacy, Apothecary strives to provide top-notch caffeine-laden delights.
“Coffee culture in the Pacific Northwest is pretty insane.” Chris adds, “Spending time with patients and making them feel comfortable is a big part of what we do in independent pharmacy that allows us to be so effective at improving healthcare delivery.”
“Coffee was therefore a natural addition to our pharmacy. Plus the smells, sounds, and overall excitement it brings really help to bring the building to life.”
Apothecary Coffee’s website states that the shop uses “precision tools for exceptional flavors” to consistently produce quality products. The same can be said for Schaffner Pharmacy — perhaps sans the flavor part.
Apothecary Coffee offers tasty delights ranging from the expected cold brews and cappuccinos to seasonal favorites such as pumpkin spice lattes and even Rx Oatmeal. They even offer a drive-thru, a godsend for both pharmacy and coffee shops.
It’s no secret that the best healthcare providers thrive in times of challenge or uncertainty, to make the most out of any situation no matter how precarious.
For Chris, opening his independent pharmacy was nothing compared to another seemingly insurmountable obstacle: his health. Two months after opening Schaffner on April 2018, Chris was diagnosed with Stage 3B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“Not only was [the pharmacy] trying to make it and survive, but I was literally fighting for my life.”
Now in remission, Chris says juggling a new business with his health problems was easily the biggest challenge of his career.
A few months after finishing chemotherapy, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, turning the industry — and the world — on its head.
“There’s never been a time where we’re in ‘just filling prescriptions, business as usual’ mode. There’s always something going on.”
Through all the challenges, Schaffner Pharmacy kept helping its patients, weathering any storm that came its way with diligence and grace.
Just because you clocked out for the day doesn’t mean you can’t innovate or do what you love.
Chris motivates his employees to take on new challenges and explore new territory, knowing that it will ultimately benefit them. He prioritizes innovation and — quoting the well-known Lexus slogan — the pursuit of perfection.
“Constantly trying to make the pharmacy better is a challenge that I enjoy. Every day represents an opportunity to learn something new.”
It is those very challenges that ignite Chris’ dedication to patient care. Each challenge breeds innovation and provides room for growth. Chris thrives in the unknown, making him tailor-made for the pharmacy industry.
Schaffner Pharmacy and Apothecary Coffee epitomize the importance of independent pharmacy: offering exceptional clinical services and never neglecting the needs of the individual.
Chris sees a bright future ahead for Schaffner Pharmacy and the pharmacy industry as a whole.
“I’d like to see our pharmacy continue innovating provider-based billing and clinical services. We’re exploring medical billing models and even integrating a nurse practitioner into our practice so we can provide primary care services that are usually outside the scope of a pharmacy.”
At the end of the day, it is the human element that pushes Chris to innovate. Always open to collaboration and learning new methods of achieving success, he sees the unknown for what it can offer.
“There are so many creative people in the industry. It’s truly humbling to get to play in their world and be a part of a community where there’s great support for independent owners.”