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Filling the years

Jim Bjorklund was introduced to the pharmacy profession at a young age. His father, Howard Bjorklund, was a pharmaceutical sales representative for 42 years. "Sometimes he would take me around to the pharmacies. I would run around the aisles and ...

Jim Bjorklund

Jim Bjorklund was introduced to the pharmacy profession at a young age.

His father, Howard Bjorklund, was a pharmaceutical sales representative for 42 years.

"Sometimes he would take me around to the pharmacies. I would run around the aisles and just kind of have fun," said Jim. "It seemed like a good profession and I just followed up on it, I guess."

Bjorklund graduated from Fargo South High School in 1970.

Four years later, he graduated from Concordia College with a double major in biology and chemistry. He graduated from North Dakota State University in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in pharmacy.

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Then it was on to Jamestown, N.D., where he worked for White Drug from 1977 through 1982.

That was the year he and his wife, Pat, purchased Moorhead Drug in the Moorhead Center Mall. It was an independent, family-run drugstore dating to 1922.

Bjorklund bought the business from partners Ed Gudmundson and Joel Nelson.

"It's coming up on 25 years. It's hard to believe it's been that long," he said.

Q: What kind of changes have you seen?

A: It's been a change to more complete health care. When I got here we just basically filled prescriptions.

That's still a big part of our business. But we also service a nursing home and are a consultant for a nursing home.

We also have gotten quite big into working with home health-care agencies. There's some home health-care agencies that actually approached a few pharmacies in town to work with them to make their job easier.

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How do you do that?

It used to be that home health agencies had to set up meds (for their customers) and it was a nightmare because everybody had a different system.

Now they are all done uniformly with the same packaging. We keep drugs on site so nurses don't have to fool with anything.

We fill two weeks of meds and deliver them and we pick up empties every two weeks. It's a rotating basis, every two weeks.

In those situations, we can monitor meds a lot better, watch for interactions, look for cheaper alternatives.

How many pharmacists do you employ?

I have two full time and one part time in addition to myself. So four pharmacists.

When you are open as many hours a week as we are at the mall - it's 78½ hours - you have to have a pharmacist on duty at all times.

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Who are your customers?

We have customers that have been with us for 50 years.

We have a customer that's going into the nursing home. He's 96. It just so happens that he is going into the nursing home that we service.

His wife was so happy. She said, "We've been doing business for 55 years."

Do you deliver to customers?

We have free delivery and we have free mail-out of prescriptions.

It's something that gets spendier every year, but it's still something that sets us apart from some of the chain drugstores.

It's one of the reasons we are able to get nursing home business and able to do home health.

What are your service hours?

We're on call 24 hours a day for the nursing home. We get calls all hours of the night.

So do you have somebody on call around the clock?

Yes. The nursing home has all of our phone numbers. On weekends, we have a cell phone pager that the person who works that weekend is required to take home.

What is the total number of employees that work at Moorhead Drug?

I have 15 employees, full and part time.

In addition to pharmaceutical supplies what else does your drugstore offer?

We have the postal substation, which is certainly a convenience for people.

We have a full line of cards and gifts and cosmetics - the usual things you'd think of at a drugstore.

The majority of our business is certainly in the pharmacy, no question. But the rest of the store is just as important.

Has technology impacted the pharmacy business?

Yes. Technology is just amazing from what it was 25 years ago.

I mentioned my dad as a pharmaceutical rep. He used to have to go around and write sheets and sheets of orders. Each individual item he ordered had to be written down.

Now we have an individual order number that you punch into a machine, send it over the phone and have it by noon the next day from Minneapolis.

You can find out anything you want to online from wholesalers.

The biggest thing for us that has improved is that we now are directly on modem with almost every insurance company.

Now we send a claim through the modem. We can find out almost in 15 seconds if they are covered, what their co-pay is, and how much we are paid.

Is the demand growing for pharmacists?

It still is. The pharmacy business continues to grow and get stronger.

You would think it would plateau one of these days, but it hasn't in many, many years.

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