Restructuring, new format fuse wellness, pharmacy at Weis
Weis Markets streamlined its internal connection between wellness and pharmacy earlier this year with an organizational restructuring that folded the Weis Lifestyle Initiatives department, led by registered dietitian Karen Buch, into the grocer’s pharmacy division. It is the first official move by a supermarket retailer to literally draw a direct line between food and pharmacy.
“We’re looking to more closely align some of the initiatives in pharmacy, which are becoming much more service oriented,” Jeff Maltese, Weis’ VP pharmacy, told Drug Store News. “There’s an opportunity for us to leverage both of those healthcare professionals — [the registered dietitian and pharmacist] — under one department.” There’s also significant opportunity to develop prevention-minded programs for those health-savvy consumers actively looking to avoid chronic illnesses, Maltese added.
The Lifestyle Initiatives team has directed such projects as Weis’ Healthy Bites publication, a free monthly magazine and social media directive touting health and better-for-you recipes. That directive now will contain a more clinical focus, he said. “We’re also going to leverage [Karen Buch’s] knowledge to educate pharmacists about how better to speak to [customers’] dietary consideration for their disease.”
Weis Markets last year overhauled its flagship format, featuring a redesigned pharmacy that makes the pharmacist more accessible. The new floor layout incorporates a dedicated pharmacy consultation room that doubles as a vaccination clinic. Medication therapy management training for all Weis pharmacists will be coming this fall.
Wegmans teaches pharmacists, consumers how to eat, live well
Wegmans Food Markets last summer introduced “Eat Well. Live Well.” stations located adjacent to its pharmacies that help showcase the links between health, wellness and a good diet.
“There’s so much good science showing that people lower their risk of many health problems when they make healthy food choices and include regular exercise in their routines,” stated Brian Pompo, coordinator of wellness and clinical services for pharmacy at Wegmans. “That’s why we’ve created our ‘Eat Well. Live Well.’ stations near the pharmacy.” The teaching areas have food displays with a health story to tell, and they change with the season.
In warm months, such freshly harvested foods as berries, melons and tomatoes may appear. In cold months, foods that help fight colds and flu, such as orange juice or soups, might be on display. In between seasons, displays might feature low-fat and fat-free dairy products or heart-healthy whole-grain breads and cereals.
Wegmans’ registered dietitians regularly meet with Pompo to review current scientific research about food, health and wellness, and to develop reference materials for pharmacists. “We look for well-established findings about the healthful properties of given foods or food groups,” Pompo said. “There may be a display featuring Wegmans products containing omega-3s. We provide pharmacists with the education piece.”
Healthy living initiatives are made ‘Simple’ for Safeway shoppers
Over the past seven years, Safeway has demonstrated a list of accomplishments aimed at healthier living, including launching its O Organics line of USDA certified-organic foods, removing added trans-fats from all of its private-label products and launching Eating Right for Kids, a line that contains no high fructose corn syrup. Today, the effort shows little signs of slowing as the chain kicked off 2011 with two new initiatives: SimpleNutrition and Open Nature.
SimpleNutrition, unveiled in mid-February, is an at-shelf program designed to simplify and personalize the grocery shopping experience as consumers increasingly are inundated with conflicting nutrition information. Under SimpleNutrition, green shelf tags highlight up to 2-of-22 different nutrition and ingredient benefits, such as gluten-free, organic, sodium-smart or made with whole grains. In January, the company introduced the Open Nature line, comprised of more than 100 products made with 100%-natural ingredients from natural sources.
However, the health-and-wellness initiatives don’t end in the food aisles for the $14-billion supermarket pharmacy powerhouse. Safeway also has been an early adopter of pharmacy-based vaccination programs. Last year, its pharmacies were quick to respond to the whooping cough outbreak that swept through California, making Adacel, a booster vaccine, available at all Safeway, Vons and Pavilions pharmacies on a walk-in basis.