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Diamond Pharmacy sells retail operation

Linda Harkcom | for the Daily Courier
After serving the community for more than 35 years, Diamond Pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant closed its doors on its retail operation. The retail pharmacy was purchased by CVS Pharmacy of Woonsocket, R.I., and all customer records have been transferred to its Mt. Pleasant location.

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Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

For more than 35 years, Diamond Pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant helped to meet the pharmaceutical needs of those in the area.

The company announced last week it has sold its retail operation to CVS Pharmacy, and all customer prescriptions have been transferred to the CVS Pharmacy's Mt. Pleasant location.

“It was a privilege for us as well as the original owners of the store, Tom and Linda Degentesh, to serve the community for 35-plus years, and we are grateful for the community support and loyalty we have had for the 35-plus years,” owner Debbie Meshanski said.

Mt. Pleasant Borough Manager Jeff Landy said many residents were surprised to learn of the closing.

“It was the only retail pharmacy in the borough limits, and they were very popular,” Landy said. “It does leave us without a retail pharmacy in the borough limits, and I hope that can change in the future for the sake of the residents.”

Meshanski said she bought the pharmacy in 2005 from Tom and Linda Degentesh. She said the business has evolved during the past eight years, which has made it very difficult for independent pharmacies to compete.

“Small businesses have their share of challenges, and retail pharmacies have some very special challenges from the big corporations, such as $4 and free prescriptions and transfer programs, some of which are now up to $40 a prescription, and they have everyday marketing blitzes as well,” she said.

Meshanski said that while many of the pharmacy's older customers remained loyal and appreciated the personal customer service they offered, younger customers had different needs.

“But in today's world, service is not as important, and in a lot of ways convenience is more important, and the corporation can offer one-stop shopping and a wide variety of products,” she said.

In the past several years, Meshanski said, she has seen a decline in business to the point that a decision had to be made.

“It was a very difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make the change and focus our efforts on a more specialized type of pharmacy practice.”

When Meshanski purchased the business, it had some long-term care, nursing-home business that grew to the point in 2007 that it was split from the retail operations and run as an independent business. Diamond Pharmacy HCS is a closed-door pharmacy that will continue to operate and serve nursing homes, group homes, hospices and customers who receive medication compliance packaging. That business is still in operation, and customers who have those types of prescriptions or needs may call 724-547-2350.

Meshanski said soon she will open a very specialized retail pharmacy with a new name in the same space, which will serve customers who need custom, compounded medications.

“Many dentists, veterinarians, gynecologists, dermatologists, even hospice, any physician that has a need for a patient that cannot be filled by a commercially available product can usually be met through a compounding pharmacy,” she said. “This includes bioidential hormone replacement therapy, which can take the form of oral capsules to gels depending on how the doctor prescribes to what the patient prefers.”

Meshanski said CVS was chosen for several reasons, including its close proximity to town, willingness to serve delivery customers and, most importantly, willingness to interview employees who she said are like family.

Eight employees have been displaced by the closing. Meshanski said all are being interviewed by CVS, and several have received job offers from the company.

“We've operated our Mt. Pleasant pharmacy for over a dozen years, so we are pleased to expand our services to the Mt. Pleasant community through this transfer with Diamond Pharmacy,” CVS Pharmacy spokesperson Mike DeAngelis said.

He said all of the pharmacy's customer records have been transferred into their system.

“As of yesterday, any former Diamond Pharmacy customer could walk into our Mt. Pleasant location or any other CVS Pharmacy location and have their prescription filled,” he said.

DeAngelis said CVS will also continue to meet the needs of the retail customers who received delivery service from Diamond Pharmacy.

“If you were a delivery customer with Diamond, we will continue to deliver to you. There may be some changes in the schedule for delivery, but we will make the same deliveries,” he said.

Those with questions regarding the transfer or services can stop in to speak to a pharmacist at CVS or call 724-547-4563. The pharmacy is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The retail part of the store is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Paula Patterson of Hunker said she has been a customer of Diamond Pharmacy for three years. She said she will miss the friendly, personal service she received at Diamond Pharmacy.

“Seeing that CVS is just outside town, it won't have much effect on me, but I probably will change to another privately owned pharmacy like Norvelt Pharmacy or Hayden's in Youngwood,” Patterson said.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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