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    Meeting the Pharmacy Needs of Tourists, Vacationers, and Travelers

    Tourists, vacationers, business travelers, and anyone who has wandered far from home have all experienced it: no matter how well planned a trip, one or more prescription medications or other medical need was left at home or was lost along the way. These unlucky itinerants then call in or go to the nearest pharmacy asking for help with their problem.

    While this scenario happens occasionally at every pharmacy, those pharmacies located in resorts or seaside destinations, or places that see a lot of business travelers encounter them every day-- and sometimes even more often.

    How do these pharmacies cope with problems that may take time, counseling, and a lot of phone calls to iron out?

    When it comes to dealing with the prescription needs of travelers, there may be no match for Turner Drugs in Celebration, FL. Located just outside Disney World in Orlando, the pharmacy has a division specifically set up to handle the needs of people who come to visit the Disney theme parks.

    “Disney came to us 30 something years ago and wanted someone to help their guests’ needs,” said Larry Turner, RPh, who owns the pharmacy with his brothers, Jack and Ken. “Disney bends over backwards in every way to please their guests,” he said. Disney had decided that it needed a pharmacy for the prescription and nonprescription needs of its guests and chose Turner Drugs.

    To keep theme park guests as worry free as possible, Turner Drugs Tourist Prescription Service pulls out all the stops, according to Turner. It is open 12 to 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, and carries almost every product a person needs, from baby needs to water and soft drinks. If someone staying at the Disney theme parks needs any nonprescription item that Turner does not carry, a Turner employee will go to another store to buy it. Everything is then delivered to the vacationer’s hotel for a fee. Disney employees (called “cast members”) either call Turner Drugs or tell the guests that they can do so.

    The division of Turner Drugs that works with Disney guests usually has four employees working the phones and contacting doctors and pharmacies all over the country, Larry Turner said. Another division of Turner Drugs is a community and compounding pharmacy for the people who live in the area.

    In contrast to the continual comings and goings of tourists in Orlando, Sunshine Family Pharmacy, located on the Outer Banks in Duck, NC, tends to see a weekly surge in vacationer needs. On the Outer Banks, there are a huge number of houses and condos that usually rent for a week or two, generally from Saturday to Saturday, creating a large influx of people each weekend.

    “The busiest time for us is Monday and Tuesday,” said Tom McGrady, PharmD, owner of Sunshine. “Vacationers often don’t realize that they don’t have their stuff with them until Monday.” Although the busiest time of year on the Outer Banks is from May through September, there are some tourists here all year long, he added.

    McGrady works with a staff of certified pharmacy technicians and pharmacy students. They are trained to understand that making calls to doctors to arrange for prescriptions is primary, he noted. “That is our bread and butter. That is what we do,” he said. “We’ve called everywhere from Alaska to Hawaii to the Florida Keys.” The staff also makes many phone calls to insurance companies to arrange for coverage for emergency refills, he added.

    Valerie DeBenedette
    Valerie DeBenedette is a medical news writer in Putnam County, N.Y.

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