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|Member Profile - Jim Coast|
Senior Care Pharmacy Profile
Putting the Care in Senior Care Pharmacy Practice
This is one in an occasional series of member profiles. All pharmacists were asked to provide answers to several questions. This was originally published in the January, 2008 issue of The Consultant Pharmacist.
If you happened to run into Jim Coast, RPh, CGP, in one of the small Kansas towns where he practices pharmacy, you might never guess that this low-key “average Joe” not only is a pharmacist who will make you smile, but also is a leader in geriatric pharmacy. Just talk to some of his coworkers, customers, and patients, and you’d quickly learn that Coast’s outstanding work in providing care to seniors has earned him the 2007 Senior Care Pharmacist Award from the American Society of Consultant Care Pharmacists (ASCP).
Jim Coast has spent nearly his entire career as a pharmacist in southwest Kansas and has been passionately involved with the senior community. Coast, a 1972 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, recalls that a high school guidance counselor picked up on Jim’s interest in science and steered him toward a career in pharmacy. “I had told my high school counselor I was going to be a lab tech because I liked science,” recalls Coast. The counselor suggested that pharmacists are paid better and that Coast could someday own his own pharmacy. “After this conversation, I never really thought about doing anything else. The more I found out about pharmacy the more I liked it.”
Starting with Clark Pharmacy in the small town of Cimarron, Kansas, Coast now owns and operates three retail pharmacies in rural, southwest Kansas, which provide consulting services for 17 nursing faclities and intermediate-care facilities in a 150- mile radius. He also is a compounding pharmacist.
Coast explains that adding geriatric consulting to his retail pharmacy practice was a gradual one. “In the early 1980s, thanks to federal regulations that required review of drug therapy in long-term care, we started getting calls to do medication reviews in nursing facilities. I thought it might be interesting and a good chance to put some clinical skills to use, so I volunteered. I went to an ASCP convention and have been hooked [on geriatric pharmacy] ever since.” He has been a member of the Society for 23 years.
Getting to Know Your Patients
One of the biggest advantages to working in small towns, Coast says, is the ability to really get to understand patients. “We know our patients on a personal basis,” he explains. “Sometimes, they have been patients at our retail pharmacy first, then go to the nursing home, and it’s great to be able to have an on - going relationship with them there.” Coast says that the largest facility his pharmacies serve is approximately 60 beds.
“When you go to facilities that are small, everyone knows you and they look forward to you being there. I have known many of the patients all my life, so they really are sort of like family.”
According to his family and his fellow pharmacists, it’s this level of commitment to his patients that sets Coast apart. “He really cares,” says Coast’s youngest son Tony, who worked at one of his father’s pharmacies throughout high school and now is assistant pharmacy manager in a long-term care pharmacy in Seattle, Washington. “Dad speaks to patients with genuine interest and compassion.”
Coast spends time fostering relationships with facility nurses and administrators, as well. “Jim has been able to forge strong partnerships with administrators in all of his long-term care facilities, and he understands the regulatory pressures they are under,” says Jan Husband- Granados, PharmD, pharmacy manager of Minneola Pharmacy in Minneola, Kansas, one of several pharmacists who supported Coast for the award. “Not only does he see the medical consequences of new regulations, but he also understands the impact on the facility and the ramifications on the welfare of his patients,” she said.
For his part, Coast says, “It’s rewarding to be able to get to know the facility administrators and nurses. I often become their sounding board, and I would like to think that I help them think outside of the box. Ad - min i strators and nurses are under so much pressure these days because of all the regulatory issues. I try to help them look at the regulations not as an obstacle, but as a path toward enhancing patient care.”
Believing in Education
Jonalan Smith, PharmD, FASCP, pharmacy manager, Genoa Health - care of Missouri, says, “I’ve had many discussions with Jim about rural pharmacy because my father also owns a pharmacy in a small western Kansas town,” he says. “Jim is always present at any Kansas Pharmacy Association event and attends many national meetings, despite the difficulty of getting away from his pharmacies,” Smith says.
Indeed, much of Coast’s ability to turn his rural, retail pharmacy practice into one of the area’s leading long-term care consulting organizations stems from a continual quest for education for himself and others. “Jim ensures that we are all up to date on the current changes in the long-term care survey process, and he regularly encourages us to attend meetings and continuing education sessions,” says Husband-Granados. “Jim has spared no expense to prepare and educate his pharmacists to provide the highest quality of care,” adds Linda Koehn, PharmD, of Clark Pharmacy in Cimmaron, Kansas. “I have never had an employer make sure that I am well prepared and educated for every aspect of my job like Jim has. The continuing theme with Jim is always ‘What’s in the best interest of this patient?’”
Over the past several years, Coast has played a key role in shaping rural pharmacy by serving on the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy and in leadership positions within the Kansas Pharmacists Association and the Kansas Independent Pharmacy Service Corporation (a role that has been continued by his eldest son, Michael Coast, RPh, CGP, who is current president of the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy). Jim Coast also meets with legislators on a regular basis to keep them abreast of current pharmacy-related issues.
But his ultimate goal is to remain well grounded and patient-focused. “In the busyness of our profession, we sometime tend to forget about the patient,” Coast says. “We get so involved that we don’t stop and listen to what our patients are telling us. I have always tried to make sure I could offer them all that I could, to be the best that I could—honest, fair, respectful, and empathetic,” he says. “The best rewards from my job come from seeing patients or their family members and knowing that I personally have been able to help them.”
2007 Senior Care Pharmacist of the Year