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