After years of working in the corporate setting and being displaced by her former employer, Dr. Shantelle Brown decided that it was time to open her own pharmacy. She met with a local developer who shared information about a future grocery store that would be built in an area that was classified as a food desert. The vision of the developer and other community leaders aligned with values that were very dear to her heart, in the East End of Richmond. A year later, Hope Pharmacy and the Market @ 25th opened their doors in April of 2019.
The VCU Health Hub, a community partner, is located next door, to Hope Pharmacy. The Health Hub provides services at no cost to the residents within the community. Together the three businesses work to provide services, education, medication, fresh fruits, and vegetables to an underserved community.
Guidance at Hope Pharmacy
Dr. Brown has four other employees on her staff. Together they fulfill the pharmacy’s mission of “Helping Others Physically Prosper Every day.” Mostly this is expressed by answering questions about “what to do next” in care. “One customer may be out of medication, another may have a reaction, or someone may need help with their healing process,” says Dr. Brown. “We help them take the next step in their journey.”
The team often refers people to the VCU Health Hub when they need financial assistance or additional resources. They also deliver medications to everyone in the Church Hill community at no charge. And when Dr. Brown realized the high number of dog walkers and cat lovers in the area, she decided to offer Pet Meds to support what she affectionately calls the “dog and cat hill” community.
There are future plans for the pharmacy to expand in terms of continuity of care.
Insight from Your Local Pharmacist
Dr. Brown’s passion for educating others is what fuels her drive. She wants her customers to know all they can about their health; disease status, the medications they’re taking, as well as the importance of vaccinations.
She encourages them to speak to their situation for themselves and ask questions, so they aren’t just being told what to do or what to take when they visit the doctor’s office. “Very seldom do you find doctors now that are willing to sit down and take the time like they used to,” she says. “But if you have some knowledge and you are willing to ask questions, it can be a totally different experience.”
Similarly, when vaccinations came out for COVID, she became an ambassador. Some of her patrons had never been vaccinated before. She journaled her entire experience through all rounds of shots to give honest answers. ”It’s one thing to see someone on TV telling you to do something and another to see a person in your community that you can come up and talk to. That’s why I am here.”
Additionally, there are misconceptions about demographics and what people in her community want or need. On their behalf, she addresses these issues with the state and city officials as needed.
The response from the community:
As a result, her business is blossoming. “We get new customers every day moving their prescriptions over,” says Dr. Brown. “Both the old Church Hill and new Church Hill communities are so appreciative to have us here serving them. The response from the community has been great.”
Even on the side, she’s still advocating:
Dr. Brown serves as a Board Member for the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen. She’s a member of the East End Coalition for older adults and the East End Diabetes Collaborative.
Most recently, she joined the board for the Greater Virginia Make-A-Wish Foundation. She plans to participate in their events through the pharmacy. She will be an ambassador for her patients who can benefit from such an amazing foundation. “My biggest priority is making people aware of what they have access to,” says Dr. Brown.
As for the bank:
Hope Pharmacy is a new customer of Chesapeake Bank. Dr. Brown wishes that she’d moved her accounts sooner. While Chesapeake isn’t exactly in her neighborhood, she can’t remember the last time she stepped in a branch. “I do everything I need to do with the bank by mobile,” she says. “It’s been a great move.”