By Bill Mossman (MidWeek):(Top, from left) The Longs Drugs/CVS Hawai‘i leadership team includes Dr. Daniel Sabin, pharmacy manager at Longs Drugs in ‘Āina Haina; Jon Higa, assistant general manager; Fran Nakoa, district leader; and Dan Clarkson, district leader.
Ever dependable, Longs Drugs/CVS Hawai‘i continues to find ways to improve the overall health and wellness of its customers.
Nearly seven decades after opening its first location in Honolulu, Longs Drugs remains a model of dependability in an ever-changing world. Yet that same reliability has likely never been of greater worth than over the past 16 months when the coronavirus forced everyone to take their personal health more seriously.
Thankfully, and to the relief of many, the longtime retail outlet (along with its parent company, CVS Health) has been there every step of the way — providing not only the usual grocery staples and personal grooming items customers have come to know, love and depend on, but a growing number of health care products, programs and services as well.
“We never closed our doors during the pandemic,” says Jon Higa, assistant general manager for Longs Drugs/CVS Hawai‘i. “Instead, we cemented ourselves as a trusted resource for essential services, and health and wellness products.”Longs Drugs employees gather to celebrate the company’s donation to Queen’s Medical Center.
The company’s commitment to health care and, in particular, its efforts in helping to vaccinate the population, has been commendable. To date, CVS Health has administered approximately 23 million COVID-19 tests and nearly 24 million vaccine doses at its pharmacies and at long-term care facilities across the country. Despite these impressive numbers, company officials acknowledge that more must be done. To that end, they remain hopeful of getting more jabs in arms through the company’s incentives-heavy campaign called #OneStepCloser.
For its part in the campaign, CVS Health plans to award 125 $500 prizes and five $5,000 giveaways for family reunions. But it’s also counting on other companies to lend a hand, including Norwegian Cruise Line and Procter & Gamble — with the former handing out 100 seven-day cruises for two to destinations that include the Caribbean, Alaska and Europe, and the latter offering a VIP trip for two to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. (For a list of what other participating companies are offering, see page 20.)The hearts of employees are always a part of every charitable cause for Longs Drugs, but especially when it involves the American Heart Association and its “Go Red for Women” day.
Higa believes the campaign could be the shot in the arm needed to ease concerns and eliminate reticence among the millions of Americans who remain unvaccinated.
“According to the most recent CDC household pulse survey COVID-19 vaccination tracker, 17.6% of adults 18 years and over are hesitant about receiving a vaccine,” says Higa. “Through the #OneStepCloser sweepstakes, we are working to close gaps in hesitancy, provide a positive reminder of the activities that are possible for people once they are vaccinated, and thank our customers who chose CVS Health to receive this important vaccine.”
Aside from offering a number of vaccinations at its pharmacies — which include those for influenza, pneumonia, shingles, chicken pox and meningitis — Longs Drugs is also helping patients better manage their prescription regimens, all while saving them money and earning rewards.
For example, Higa notes the drugstore’s ScriptSync program aligns prescription refills for patients with various maintenance medications, allowing them to be picked up or delivered at the same time. Additionally, its ScriptPath prescription management system automatically reviews a patient’s current prescription information and prescribers’ instructions, and provides them with a schedule of the most effective times of day to take each medication.
“These programs help with medication adherence and make it more convenient for patients to access their prescriptions, even when spending more time at home,” he explains, adding that customers can also earn up to $50 in ExtraBucks Rewards through the ExtraCare Pharmacy & Health Rewards program, simply by “filling prescriptions, getting flu shots and more.”
To further improve the overall health of its customers during the global pandemic and beyond, the retail pharmacy chain opened three new HealthHUB locations in ‘Aiea, Kāne‘ohe and Wahiawā last December. Among the key features incorporated into these innovative in-store centers are an on-site Care Concierge focused on customer engagement, a greater selection of health and wellness products, and more personalized support at the pharmacy, including education and counseling for patients with chronic conditions.
Higa explains that Health-HUBs are designed “to help make chronic disease management and overall health and wellness more simple, convenient and affordable.”
“They continue to offer products specifically procured for the people of Hawai‘i,” he says, “as well as feature a broader range of connected health care services to help patients better manage chronic conditions, more products and services focused on overall health and wellness, and trusted advice and personalized care that can be accessed virtually and with the ease of walking into select Longs Drugs locations.”
All of which suggests that one of the best ways to live well during and after pandemics is to make Longs a part of your day.
One of the best evidences of Longs Drugs’ commitment to Hawai‘i and its people is in how much community work the company does.
“Each year, we support dozens of local charities and community groups through various initiatives,” says Jon Higa, assistant general manager for Longs Drugs/CVS Hawai‘i. “In 2020, for example, we provided a grant to The Salvation Army to support COVID-19 relief services specific to hunger and raised more than $113,000 to support Hawai‘i Food Bank.”
Beyond these noteworthy efforts, the company has also provided 22 annual scholarships to high school graduates statewide through its Longs Drugs Scholarship Program, as well as supported additional nursing/PA scholarships at University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa and Hawai‘i Pacific University.
Higa notes that the company’s efforts in community work would not be possible without the support of partnering organizations such as March of Dimes, The Salvation Army, Aloha United Way, American Red Cross, and Hilo Medical Center Foundation, Hawai‘i Chapter – National Hemophilia Foundation.
As pharmacy manager of Longs Drugs in ‘Āina Haina, Dr. Daniel Sabin is most proud of the interpersonal relationships he’s developed with customers over the past five years. Since day one on the job, he’s made himself available to just about every person who enters the store at 5156 Kalanianaole Hwy., willingly sharing quality health advice while taking the time to get to know people beyond their names.
As a result, customers have grown to view him as both friend and confidant.
“The connection that I’ve built with folks is so much deeper than just the professional level,” explains Sabin. “When you know somebody like that, it allows them to open up to you and to trust you.”
A native of the Beaver State, Sabin attended Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy, where he met and fell in love with a fellow student from the Aloha State.
“Once we finished school, she came back home and I followed,” he says.
That was in 2009, the same year that he joined Longs Drugs/CVS Hawai‘i as “a floating pharmacist” working at stores across the Hawaiian Island chain. The mobile job not only increased his appreciation of Longs Drugs and its far-reaching impact on customers statewide, but also placed him in the enviable position of being groomed by knowledgeable and experienced managers and co-workers.
“I really got to see what Longs had to offer, and I got to meet and network with a lot of great people and learn from them,” recalls Sabin of those days.Longs Drugs employee Jean Okimoto stocks shelves in the cold medicine aisle, located on the second floor of the ‘Āina Haina store.
Today, he leads a highly trained and attentive staff that not only specializes in prescription medications, health care products, beauty products and other remedies, but also consistently ranks within the top 5% in the company (there are more than 7,200 CVS Pharmacy locations throughout the country) based upon the number of immunizations it administers.
Sabin calls Longs Drugs’ ability to provide preventative medicine to Hawai‘i’s communities “unmatched.”
“The data is clear: People who come to our pharmacies have better outcomes,” says Sabin. “They’re better at staying on their medications because we have services to help keep them compliant. We’re also accessible because our reach is far and wide.Pharmacy manager Dr. Daniel Sabin leads a team of talented individuals at Longs Drugs in ‘Āina Haina. They include Dr. Sara Lum (far right) and pharmacy techs Toni-Lyn Park and Kris Nagayama.
“So, there are so many things that go into it that allow us to really be there for people.”
And being there for others is what the always-accessible pharmacist from Longs Drugs is all about.
CVS Health’s #OneStepCloser sweepstakes involves a number of partners beyond Norwegian Cruise Line and Procter & Gamble. Among the participating companies and the prizes being offered are: