A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Wellness Rx

Ed Ullmann is a self-motivated man. As a teenager he put himself through pharmacy school, by 24 he had bought a house and was elected the youngest county legislator in Ulster. With a Masters in Healthcare and a fellowship at Georgetown Medical School added to his resume, Ullman went on to become chairman CEO of seven HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations). Now he is working to change the face of pharmacy in the 21st Century.

Ullmann returned to retail pharmacy seven years ago as a practitioner with fresh eyes. Frustrated that the vast majority of healthcare delivery in our country is controlled by a handful of regional networks, he hoped and believed that local pharmacy could be part of the solution of healthcare delivery. He says, “People want to be respected. They matter. Healthcare should be about the patient—we’ve lost that.” So he set out to create an alternative model for the hometown pharmacy.

The foundation of Ullman’s approach is the belief that if you look at individuals there is much more uniqueness than commonality. From mental health to genetic makeup to physical challenges, everyone deals with a different set of circumstances. He believes that we need to adapt the healthcare system to the uniqueness of the patients.

The key to shifting the model is a one-on-one approach to customer care. The first step, Ullman says, is to to build trust. “People feel comfortable when they sense you care about them. When they trust you, they will open up and share what is going on with them.”

With wellness services integrated into the traditional pharmacy model, customers at Wellness Rx get a more patient-centered experience designed to promote wellness, rather than continue the cycle of medicating.  Ullman advocates a holistic approach to healthcare. He believes the solution is never quite as simple as just filling an antibiotic prescription and sending the patient on their way. The holistic approach analyzes the circumstances that led to a person’s condition and considers potential preventative measures to stop future recurrences. All of this analysis and discovery takes time, time that a Rite Aid pharmacist probably isn’t going to give you.

With a wide variety of standard allopathic remedies as well as an ample selection of homeopathic, naturopathic, and other alternative medicines available, Wellness Rx truly has something for everyone.

In December 2014, the Wellness Rx team will open up a second shop in Tannersville, NY. In line with Ullman’s vision to give a new face to pharmacy, the Greene County location will be housed on the first floor of a Victorian mansion (complete with a wrap-around porch). Far from emptying the bank to secure this location, Ullman and his team were actually invited by the Tannersville community to occupy the space rent free for two years, after a chain drugstore pushed their local pharmacy out of business. All this bodes well for the Wellness Rx mission and future.

With huge windows, plants, a fishbowl (with a live fish), and mellow background music, Wellness Rx is decidedly different from its fluorescent-lighted, drab carpeted box store counterpart. Be sure to stop into the store on November 1 for their one-year anniversary, and see for yourself what the new face of pharmacy looks like.

–Marie Doyon