If the shoe fits...she's happy

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kathy Hester owns Plaza Drug along with her pharmacist husband. The community pharmacy, in London, Ky., provides therapeutic shoes and inserts, selling an average of two dozen pairs each month--not bad in a rural area where new shoes can be as much a luxury as a necessity. In the six years since the pharmacy opened, it has been voted best in the county six times.
HME News: You offer diabetes supplies but what made you get into shoes, as well?
Kathy Hester: Shortly after we opened, my husband's grandma, who was near 90 and had diabetes, developed a sore on her foot and didn't tell anybody until it was black. We had always tried to get her to get therapeutic shoes but she just loved her little house slippers. She ended up losing her leg and eventually her life. I didn't want this to happen to other people's grandparents.
HME: How do you promote the shoe business?
Hester: We have a "tell two friends" program with our diabetic shoes. Every patient who walks out of here after getting shoes gets a couple of extra preprinted prescriptions that they can give to other people to take to their doctors. So, when somebody at church or in the family or at Wal-Mart says, "Wow, where did you get your new pair of shoes?" they'll hear about us. Hopefully, they'll come to us but whether they do or go somewhere else, they can get these custom shoes that fit and avoid the problems Nana had.
HME: Why should people buy shoes from you?
Hester: I believe in patients having choice. We have about 25 different styles. When I go shopping for shoes, I want a choice of styles and colors. We offer that and work with a number of vendors for everything from sport shoes to boots to dress to casual.
HME: How can the independent pharmacy augment the care of the diabetes patient?
Hester: We can keep an eye on their diabetes, as well as their other medical conditions. We can watch changes in their medications and keep tabs on changes in their feet. We keep charts so year to year we can do comparisons.
HME: How do most people pay for the shoes?
Hester: It's the one area where Medicare and Medicaid help in preventative medicine. Patients need to learn about it and take advantage of it. We're in a rural area where cost is a big factor. I had one lady who I fitted--it was the first time she ever had a brand-new pair of shoes. She'd always gone to yard sales and Goodwill. We were both in tears.