AUGUSTA — The retail section of a new pharmacy nestled between the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care and MaineGeneral Medical Center recently opened to serve people who walk in or use the drive-thru to pick up prescriptions.

But a state-of the-art prescription-filling service for people across the state operates in the rear section of Kennebec Pharmacy & Home Care at 11 Medical Center Parkway, the new building just off Route 3 west of Interstate 95.

The two-story structure, which has a total of 9,300 square feet, was erected on land owned by the hospital, and the pharmacy partnered with the hospital in the venture, said Michael Nowak, a pharmacist who is president and owner of the company. A ribbon-cutting is set for 10 a.m. Monday.

In the back area, where the door is labeled “Kennebec Senior Care,” a computerized system dispenses various medication tablets and seals them in tiny silvery pouches, each marked with the patient’s name and dosage time. The chain of pouches is wound around a large wheel that serves as a take-up spool.

“We use a specialized, multidose packaging system,” Nowak said. “That’s what we use to serve the assisted-living, residential care facilities in Maine. We were the first in the state to do this in the assisted living long-term care market and will be the first to do it in the retail pharmacy for the public.”

Pharmacists and technicians work there as well, checking and rechecking items and adding by hand specialty medications that might not be included among the hundreds stored in a huge bank of drawers that resemble safety deposit boxes.


Then an “InspectRx” series machine equipped with a camera takes a photo of each pouch and highlights those tablets it cannot readily identify.

It can inspect 3,600 pouches an hour.

The medication pouches are destined for people living in long-term care facilities all across the state.

“Every week we deliver those,” said Steven Royer, vice president of Kennebec Pharmacy & Home Care. “The administration loves it.”

The service helps control costs and waste and decreases time spent sorting medications as well as medication errors, Nowak added.

The service began two years ago at Kennebec Pharmacy & Home Care’s Brunswick site and was moved to the new Augusta building earlier this year.


The pharmacy has its own delivery fleet, which ferries the medications to nursing facilities as well as local retail customers.

Nowak said one aim of the new pharmacy is to serve those being sent home from the MaineGeneral hospital next door in a “meds-to-beds” program.

“We’ll be able to fill the prescriptions for the patients and deliver it to their hospital bedroom before they leave the hospital,” he said.

He said that will help solve the problem of patients being discharged from the hospital and then failing to take their medication and having to be rehospitalized.

“A lot of people are overwhelmed, and they don’t take the time to get their scripts filled for one reason or another,” Nowak said.

A similar though smaller system doing multidose packaging for medication is in place in the retail section of the pharmacy as well.


The pouches are convenient for those on a regular medication regime.

“They can drop the pouch in a purse or a pocket to take to work,” he said. The pouches take the place of weekly and daily pill organizer boxes. That service will be offered to the public starting in October, Royer said.

The service synchronizes all the medications so they’re all refilled on the same date.

“It’s real convenient,” Nowak said, “and it improves patients’ health because they’re taking their medication when they’re supposed to. There’s more of an awareness of medication compliance and how it impacts the patient’s overall health.”

The pharmacy also offers medication therapy management, “to help patients get the best benefits from their medications by actively managing drug therapy and by identifying, preventing and resolving medication-related problems,” according to the American Pharmacists’ Association.

Kennebec Pharmacy & Home Care employs 130 people at its four sites, and Royer said the business currently has about a dozen open positions.


It added about 20 more people already because of the new location and overall growth.

The retail side of new pharmacy building, which cost about $2 million to erect, is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday. The parking lot, which has about 30 spaces, can be reached through both the cancer center driveway and the road to the hospital. It is the fourth location for Kennebec Pharmacy & Home Care, which already operates a pharmacy with home care, respiratory and compounding services as well as durable medical equipment at 43 Leighton Road in Augusta. There are two other locations: 839 Commercial St. in Rockport and 121 Medical Center Drive in Brunswick.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

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