New pharmacy owners are settled in

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Jennifer and Chris Clayton
Jennifer and Chris Clayton own three Northeast Iowa pharmacies, including Clayton Drug in Elkader, formerly Moser Pharmacy.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

Long before Jay and Kay Moser retired last spring, companies interested in purchasing the pharmacy they’d owned and operated in Elkader for nearly 30 years approached them. But they turned down each offer preferring to wait for the right time and the right owners.

Their patience was rewarded when Chris and Jennifer Clayton made an inquiry. The young Manchester couple was familiar with the needs and expectations of a family-owned pharmacy: They’ve been in the business for several years, and already owned two stores. Convinced that the Claytons would be a good fit for the community, Jay and Kay sold their business. Clayton Drug, formerly Moser Pharmacy, opened its doors in early May.
Though working in Elkader is new for the couple, they’re hardly newcomers to Northeast Iowa. They own pharmacies in Strawberry Point and Sumner, each close to the town of Manchester where Jennifer grew up.
Jennifer and Chris both earned Doctorates in Pharmacy from the University of Iowa. Chris also earned a master’s in business administration there. Jennifer is president and owner of Clayton Pharmacy Services, which includes their three stores, and also owner of Clayton Pharmacy Consulting Services. The latter provides services to three long-term care centers in Northeast Iowa. Jennifer, who oversees the day-to-day and clinical operations of the drugstores and consulting business, is board certified in geriatric pharmacy.

A Mitchell, Iowa, native, Chris is Executive Director of Pharmacy for UnityPoint and also manages the financial operations of Clayton Pharmacy Services. He is co-owner and treasurer/secretary of the business.
They couple have five sons: Carter, Cameron, Sawyer, Max and Hawken.

Strong interests in math and science couple with the desire to positively impact people’s lives led Jennifer and Chris to their chosen career.
“I considered medical school,” Chris said, “but pharmacy fit better with my life goals.”
The Register recently had a chance to visit with Jennifer about changes in her field and the couple’s plans for their newest business. Here are our questions and her answers.
How has the field changed since you entered it?

Pharmacy is still about helping people to understand their choices when it comes to their medications and clinical needs. I believe that a good relationship between a pharmacist and patient can help to improve patient outcomes, and that has not changed. We now have more options regarding communication in our digital world.  We need to continue working together and rolling with the changes in healthcare reimbursement and regulations to stay current, allowing us to provide optimal care for our patients. Communication is key. Quality of care is key.  The cost of operating a pharmacy continues to rise as reimbursement declines, so we must continue to push forward and stay on top of the changes to sustain rural pharmacy operations.

When/why/where did you purchase your first pharmacy?
I was working as the pharmacy manager in Strawberry when the opportunity to purchase that location and the Sumner location presented itself. As my love for the community was already planted, it seemed an easy decision. The ability to maintain pharmacy services in rural communities has and always will be my primary focus. Chris’ background in business and management has been very helpful and instrumental to our success.
How did you come to purchase the Elkader Pharmacy?

I knew that Jay shared the same love for small town pharmacy. I also knew that when the time came, I would be very interested in growing our pharmacy family. It has been a natural fit. We are so blessed to be a part of the Elkader community.
What are the challenges/rewards of being a small-town pharmacy?

Small town pharmacy is challenging, as bigger pharmacy corporations try to squeeze out our services by cutting independents from certain networks and pushing for mail order pharmacy. We have found that the amount of patient interaction we are able to achieve in a rural pharmacy, has allowed our pharmacy team to form relationships with our patients that lends itself to optimal pharmacy care.
In what ways, if any, will your Elkader pharmacy differ from your Strawberry Point pharmacy?

Services in both locations will be very similar. Both locations offer free delivery and immunization services. Pharmacist consultation services are available by appointment. Our Strawberry location also offers diabetic shoe fittings as well as long-term care services. Both locations offer adherence packaging and reminder services to aid in medication compliance.
What changes have you implemented in Elkader and what’s on the horizon?

We now offer text alerts when your medication is available for pick up. Our app, Rx 2 Go, is easily found through your app store and works on both Apple and android devices. Through the app you will be able to look at your medication profile, order refills, and run reports such as co-pay amounts for the year and insurance payment information.

Our new pharmacy manager will be able to give immunizations without a prescription! Walk-ins will be welcomed for immunizations such as Shingrix, Tdap, pneumonia, flu and many more!
Clayton Drug will be open with a pharmacist on duty during the entire day from 9-5:30 Monday through Friday, and 9-noon on Saturdays.
We are so happy to be able to maintain the same friendly pharmacy support and certified technician staff you have grown to know at the Elkader location. Our new pharmacist Suzannah Hekel, will be starting mid-July. She has recently graduated with her Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Iowa and is looking forward to making Elkader her hometown. 
Anything else?

In healthcare there are challenges when an ownership change takes place.  Medicare requires us to go through a whole new process to provide items such as diabetic test strips and insurance companies require all new agreements. We have worked through many of these requirements but some take more time than others. We have been very thankful of people being understanding of these situations that occur during this transition.  


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