ShareThis Page

'She's the most loyal person you could ever imagine'

| Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, 10:11 p.m.
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Ross Pharmacy clerk/pharmacy technician Denise Yarussi, left, gets a laugh out of 50-year customer Marlene Burkett of Vandergrift during a luncheon honoring Yarussi for her 30-year career at the Vandergrift pharmacy on Monday, January 14, 2013. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Ross Pharmacy clerk/pharmacy technician Denise Yarussi on Monday, January 14, 2013. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch

For Denise Yarussi, good customer service is good medicine.

Last week, the Allegheny Township resident celebrated 30 years as a pharmacy technician at Ross Pharmacy in Vandergrift. She makes it clear why she has always been inspired to go above and beyond.

“It's the customers,” she said. “I do it because of them.”

What she does exceeds the typical pharmacy tech expectations of counting pills and stocking shelves. Yarussi wears many hats and does whatever it takes to keep the pharmacy running smoothly, whether that means pricing items or taking out the trash.

She delivers prescriptions, makes phone calls until a problem with someone's insurance is solved and answers a lot of questions. And not just questions relating to how to take your medication — recent queries have come in from customers looking for the best fish sandwich and answers for a crossword puzzle, she said with a laugh.

She and customers love to share advice and recipes.

“Everybody that comes in that door, we treat them equally,” she said.

“I think that's why we have such good customers. We treat them like family.”

At a party held a week ago in honor of her 30th anniversary, those at the Grant Avenue pharmacy welcomed more than 60 customers throughout the afternoon to share an anniversary lunch, complete with cake.

While some people might have opted for a quiet dinner with coworkers to celebrate such a milestone, for Yarussi, there was no way to go other than the large, inviting luncheon.

“I thought, ‘what better way to do it?',” she said, “because without them, I wouldn't be here for 30 years.”

The appreciation clearly goes both ways.

“There aren't enough adjectives in the library to describe her. She's just a great person,” said Nancy Skrot.

Skrot said that she and her husband, Ed, both pharmacy customers, appreciate Yarussi's intelligence, wit and friendliness.

And they aren't the only ones.

Pharmacist David Greenlee, who has owned Ross Pharmacy since 1980, calls her his “right-hand person.”

“She's just the most loyal person you could ever imagine,” he said.

“Denise has been here through thick and thin, no matter what.”

That was no more apparent, perhaps, than last year when she suffered a brain aneurysm. She spent one month in Allegheny General Hospital and another five weeks going through rehabilitation.

During that time, customers showed their loyalty by visiting the hospital and sending their best wishes for a full recovery. She received nearly 500 get-well cards.

“It was just amazing,” Greenlee said. “She was able to pull through it with her inner strength. She was able to pull through it and get back to work.”

And what Yarussi returned to was perhaps demonstrated quite well as customers and friends packed the pharmacy for a party on a chilly afternoon, thirty years to the day that she began working there.

“The fact that all those people would turn out to wish her goodwill is just a testament in itself,” Greenlee said.

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.