Health on the National Mall highlights important role pharmacists play in providing care


Steve Lawrence

Senior Vice President
Independent Sales
Cardinal Health

How do you help the public understand that pharmacists are the most accessible health professional in the community? Try landing 10 tents staffed with pharmacists in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the nation and displaying that expertise for all to see, for free.

Cardinal Health and the National Community Pharmacists Association hosted the “Health on the National Mall” event on Wednesday, July 23, the day before the Retail Business Conference (RBC), one of the industry’s largest gatherings of retail independent pharmacists. More than a dozen pharmacists from around the country arrived early to offer health advice on a broad range of health topics, showcasing the range of pharmacists’ knowledge extends far beyond filling prescriptions.

“We purposely called it Health on the National Mall, not Healthcare on the National Mall,” says Ron Clerico, vice president of Marketing Strategy and Solutions at Cardinal Health. “The idea was to show the nation that pharmacists are community educators on all health issues.”

The idea worked. For three mid-day hours in the heart of the tourism season, policymakers and hundreds of visitors from around the country  flowed into ten tents staffed with RBC-bound pharmacists chosen for their expertise on health topics ranging from weight management to asthma.

Pharmacists loved it, too. “This was my first time visiting Washington, D.C., and it was great to get a chance to interact with and share information with tourists,” said Dana Sadowski, the pharmacist-in-charge at Doc’s Pharmacy in Beecher, Ill.

Sadowski has made asthma treatment one of her specialties and was thrilled to share her knowledge.  “With the humidity, asthma was a prime topic,” she said. “Counseling people in management and prevention is what I do at home. So doing it on the Mall was a great opportunity, especially in an environment full of energetic kids.”

Jeff Dalton, pharmacist at The Medicine Shoppe in Altavista, Va., got a chance to share his powerful life story to those stopping by the weight management tent. In addition to being a pharmacist, Dalton is a certified health coach for Take Shape for Life and has made promoting healthy living a core part of his business.

“I love to strike up conversations about health, whether it’s with patients or strangers, and getting people to think about weight management as more than just losing a few pounds,” Dalton says.

Dalton explained to visitors that having long-term, measurable goals beyond diet and for life is crucial to both looking and feeling good. A few years ago, Dalton was overweight, diabetic and suffering from high blood pressure. “A light bulb went off in my head. I had all the symptoms I was trying to prevent in others,” he explains when encouraging others.

Dalton put himself on the Take Shape for Life program. He lost 30 pounds, saw his blood pressure return to normal and his diabetes go away. He no longer takes medicine for those conditions.

Health on the National Mall let him share this knowledge with a new audience, in addition to the more than 250 patients he’s steered to the Take Shape for Life Program in his store’s successful weight management business.

“Hosting a tent at Health on the National Mall was fun and an honor,” he said. “We got out an important message: First, be proactive to prevent health problems and, second, your community pharmacy is a good place to start.”

In addition to asthma and weight management, Health on the National Mall had tents for children's health, diabetes management, general nutrition, the Generation Rx drug abuse prevention program, heart health, sports medicine and women's health.