Care Clinic now part of the Headon Road Shoppers location, one of three in the province

By Pepper Parr

July 27th, 2023



In 1962 a man named Murray Koffler, a pharmacist opened up a drug store named Shoppers Drug Mart; he went on to create a national organization of pharmacies without sacrificing the personalized service of the local community pharmacist.

Murray Koffler with his. wife Marvelle

Koffler passed away in 2017 but the belief that personalized service was both important and possible took another step forward on Thursday when the Pharmacy Care Clinic  opened at the Headon Road location.

Shoppers has led the way in creating a a national organization; there are now more than 1300 locations in Canada.  They stopped selling tobacco products in 1921; they entered into a contract with Canada Post to set up postal stations inside many of the Shoppers locations.

They automated the delivery of pharmaceuticals and created a service that allowed doctors to send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy. When a prescription was ready for pick up Shoppers would send an email to the customer.

Pharmacists are taking on roles that doctors used to handle. It was more efficient and cost effective to have a pharmacy giving Covid19 vaccinations.

The provincial health Ministry now works closely with the senior Shoppers executive team to create services that can be done at the local level, almost on a walk-in basis.

The sign direct people and makes the point that this is a Clinic.

They use some pretty slick language – Check In is referred to as Customer Concierge; an effort to make the point that the customer is the focus.  The signage is good – this new service is right beside the pharmacy with comfortable seating space and people who are there to listen to you.

The Clinic can often resolve a problem or a concern, or if there is a serious situation be on to the doctor’s office immediately.

The Clinic was a place where an anxious child could be taken to for a vaccination.

Vaccinations will now be done at Pharmacy based Clinics.  There are a lot of parents who have gone through a trip to the doctors office with a child that is terrified of that needle.  Shoppers decided that problem could be resolved if the child could be distracted.  There is a television set with videos that cater to the interests of the child.  They went one step better.  To the left of the TV screen there is a small panel with six buttons, each a different colour.  The pharmacist will ask the child who is still looking at that needle if they would like to change the colour of the lights in the room.  The child presses one of the button and the light colour changes – to blue, to green, or to red.  The pharmacist now has a distracted child who stops crying and gets vaccinated.

In most pharmacists there is a Drop Off counter where you drop off the prescription you want to have filled and another that you Pick Up your prescription.  The Pharmacy Care Clinics will have just the one counter, a bigger one where tere are several people to serve you.  The counter is also quite a bit lower.  No more two line set ups.

Designed for better service delivery; lockers are being tried to see if they can save time.

Another interesting approach.  If you use the app that Shoppers created and have indicated you would like your medication put in a locker where you can pick them up you get an email giving you a code or when you get to the locker you use your cell phone to read the QR code and then enter the number you were given and a door opens and you take your prescription.  The billing is already done because they have the information they need on file.

The intention is to save time wherever possible.

Nitu Singh, Senior Director of Pharmacy and Operations, who is a pharmacist and at one time operated on the Shoppers pharmacy, explains that the two new Care Clinics, with one more to be opened, will be carefully monitored to learn what is working and what isn’t working.

The focus of the Care Clinic is to allow people to talk to a pharmacist about ailments and approaches to better health.

We now have an aging population who rely more on medications and fewer doctors.  Shoppers has a strong trusting relationship with the Health Ministry. On occasion Shoppers will take an idea to the Ministry or the Ministry will ask Shoppers to suggest some approaches that can take the load of the doctors offices.

The Covid19 vaccine booster are nor done at the pharmacy level; expect the same with flu shots.

The public now has a place they can turn to for advice from people who are well qualified and know when there is a problem that needs to be taken to a doctor.

Murray Koffler knew what he was doing when he formed the chain of pharmacies, he may have had no idea just how involved it would become with the customers but he would smile when he saw what was being done.  Koffler was made a member of the Order of Canada.

Shoppers is now owned by the Loblaws organization.




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2 comments to Care Clinic now part of the Headon Road Shoppers location, one of three in the province

  • Lynn Crosby

    I like to avoid Galen Weston’s stores as much as possible but oh yes, the Ford government has been kind to him and Shoppers. Reminder that other pharmacies can also give advice and shots, etc.

  • Far better than having a healthy child sitting around in a doctor’s office for hours as used to be the case when we had children going for their vaccinations, well done Shoppers Drug Mart.