Winters Healthcare staff, City and County officials, and the community gathered for the grand opening celebration of the Winters Healthcare community pharmacy last Wednesday.
Winters Healthcare Foundation first announced it was planning to open a pharmacy last year. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors approved a $215,000 allocation on Feb. 9 to help Winters Healthcare construct the pharmacy inside its building.
Director of Operations Stacey McCall said when the new Winters Healthcare facility was constructed in 2019, they planned to expand services at some point and created a shell space inside the building. At the time, they weren’t set on what type that would be, and they didn’t want to be in competition with the long-time Winters pharmacy Eagle Drug.
“It was important to us to not compete or take away from Eagle Drug. We thought about a pharmacy, or optometry or some other kind of medical service,” McCall said. “We knew that when Eagle Drug closed we wanted to make the shell space into a pharmacy.”
When Eagle Drug closed after 32 years of business, Winters Healthcare began working with Yolo County to establish its own pharmacy.
The plans came to fruition this summer. Although McCall said they still have some ways to go to reach their full goals of serving the community.
The Winter Healthcare community pharmacy participates in the 340B program, which is a discount drug program run by federally-qualified health centers. The 340B program assists community members who are uninsured and/or who qualify in the low-income bracket so they can purchase much needed medications at a discounted price.
McCall said their team has been diligently working the past six months to navigate through the process of applications, credentialing and contracting in order to be able to take all the different types of insurances.
“This has been a journey for us into the pharmacy world. Right now we are only able to serve our current patients that are uninsured,” McCall said. “We will be phasing in Medi-cal, Medicare and private insurances — hopefully within the next month or so.”
Winters Healthcare’s ultimate goal is to serve the whole community.
“Winters Healthcare has always had a focus on serving the community. And, adding pharmacy services is just one more benefit that we are able to provide,” McCall said. “We are so grateful for the support of both our city and county in being able to bring this additional service to the community of Winters.”
At the grand opening event, the Winters Healthcare board and team members joined City and County officials, and the Winters District Chamber of Commerce to celebrate at the first in-person ribbon cutting ceremony since the pandemic.
Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor told attendees that after Eagle Drug closed, City of Winters and county officials became concerned that residents would have to travel out of town for medications and they knew they needed to have a pharmacy in Winters.
“It was going to hurt people’s health. Some people didn’t have transportation to those other locations,” Saylor said.
Saylor gave credit to Chief County Administrator Jill Perez for having the insight and coming up with the solution to have the County access intergovernmental transfer (IGT) funds for the purpose of constructing the pharmacy.
Mayor Pro Tempore Bill Biasi addressed attendees saying they went from zero pharmacies in town to welcoming two. Woodland-based Yolo Pharmacy opened a Winters location in April. He shared gratitude to the county and Winters Healthcare team and donors for having the vision to bring a pharmacy to reality.
“I’m just so very happy for our community. It’s going to work out really nice. Especially for our neighbors here in the apartments next door. People will be able to walk across the street to get their prescriptions and not have to drive anywhere,” said Biasi.
The Winters Healthcare community pharmacy hours are in line with its facility’s regular business hours. It is open on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More information can be found on the Pharmacy page online at wintershealth.org/pharmacy.