Article from Lake Panorama Times, July Edition 2022
By Susan Thompson
Lake Panorama Times
Andrew Knorr has been the manager of the Medicap Pharmacy in Panora since May 2016. He confesses he didn’t grow up thinking he wanted to be a pharmacist. In fact, as a Dallas Center-Grimes senior, he didn’t have any idea what he wanted to pursue in college. Many of his friends were going to Iowa State University, so he applied there.
It was in a chemistry class in 2003 where the idea of becoming a pharmacist first came along. Walgreens had provided information about the pharmacy industry, which was shared in that class, and he thought this might be a career that would interest him. He had friends who were in the Drake University pharmacy program, so he applied there and was accepted into the two-year pre-pharmacy program.
That was followed by four years in Drake’s College of Pharmacy. He graduated in 2009 and was hired by GRX Holdings, which owns 22 Medicap pharmacies in central Iowa. He started at the Medicap in Grimes, before becoming a staff pharmacist at the Norwalk location for six years.
Knorr told his supervisor if the Panora store ever became available, he’d be interested. That’s because his grandmother, Leona Knorr, built one of the first cabins on Lake Panorama’s Horseshoe Cove in the early 1980s.
“I grew up on the lake, visiting her from the time I was a child until she sold the property right before I graduated from high school,” Knorr says. “As my friends graduated from college, most bought themselves a car. But when I graduated from pharmacy school in 2009, I bought a boat.”
That boat is the 2007 Mastercraft he and his family use today as they wakeboard, surf and ski on Lake Panorama. His wife, Jaimee, is an MRI technician for Iowa Radiology in Clive. They have two daughters, Kennedy, age 6, and Everly, age 4. Kennedy is already wakeboarding and skiing. For now, Everly prefers tubing. Jaimee enjoys surfing, and Andrew prefers to wakeboard.
The family lived in Waukee from 2008 until 2016, when they moved into a house they built on Lake Panorama’s west side. Jaimee’s parents, Kurt and Joyce Johnson, live nearby.
The Panora Medicap has seven employees, including Knorr. A pharmacist must be present when prescriptions are dispensed, so Knorr is joined by pharmacist Tricia Steffen on Mondays, which are busy days. She also works Wednesdays, and Knorr and she alternate Saturdays. Knorr and Steffen administer all shots. Other employees are pharmacy technicians, who handle new and refill prescription orders and other tasks in the store, plus one cashier and one delivery driver.
The Medicap motto is “We’ll always make time for you.” Knorr says while the COVID pandemic closed the doors of the pharmacy for a time, except for drive-thru pick-ups, it gave him the chance to focus more on patient care.
“Our business numbers didn’t change much, because people still needed their regular prescription medications,” he says. “But we became even more focused on being a true community pharmacy, not just a business that dispenses medications.
“We had always offered free delivery of prescriptions in Panora,” he says. “But COVID led us to expand to nearly all of Guthrie County. Now we offer free delivery to Guthrie Center, Yale, Bagley, Jamaica and Linden.
“We’re in the process of making some changes in our work flow, allowing technicians to refill and verify prescription medications more often,” Knorr says. “This gives me more time to talk with patients as they pick up their prescriptions, to ask how the medication is working, and if there are any side effects that concern them.”
Knorr says pharmacists generally see patients more often than their doctors do.
“That means we have the opportunity to help them make sure the medications doctors have prescribed are working as planned. For instance, patients on blood pressure medications can get regular blood pressure checks from us, and we can relay that information to their doctor,” he says.
Another impact the COVID pandemic had at Medicap occurred when vaccines first became available.
“It was a trying time in the beginning, getting people scheduled, excess work related to billing, making sure only people who were eligible at the time were getting the vaccine, and administering the shots,” Knorr says. “But it also was a rewarding time for us, because so many people thanked us for helping them get some protection from the virus.”
In the past, most vaccinations happened in a doctor’s office. The trend in recent years, even before COVID, was for shots to be given at pharmacies.
“This provides easier access to care for patients and, in some cases, better outcomes. For instance, the CDC recommends flu shots be given in late September into the middle of October. But if someone sees their doctor in August, they might get the flu shot then. The shot provides just three to four months of immunity, so getting it too early may not get them through the flu season,” Knorr says.
The most common shots now given at Medicap in Panora are for COVID, flu and shingles. But Knorr says they can get almost any vaccination a patient needs, including pneumonia, tetanus, hepatitis, meningitis and more.
As for the prescription meds kept on shelves in the store, Knorr says most common medicines generally are on hand when needed.
“We have about 1,000 different prescriptions and medications on our shelves. There are maybe five times each day when a prescription is requested that we don’t have on hand, but we can almost always get it the next day,” he says. “Our computer software allows us to do predictive ordering, which covers most refill requests we get.”
Besides dispensing prescription medications, there is a retail area that provides many over-the-counter items for allergies, pain, first aid, skin care and much more. Greeting and sympathy cards are available, as are rental equipment such as crutches, knee scooters and walkers.
A display of shoes for those with diabetes is in one corner.
“We don’t sell a lot of those, but it’s a nice service to have for people who are diabetic,” Knorr says. “Medicare covers a new pair of shoes each year for those with diabetes, plus three insoles, because these shoes and insoles have proven effective in keeping feet healthy.”
Panora is smaller than most of the towns where Medicap pharmacies are located.
“I like that we’re in a small community where we know the people who come in our doors and that they appreciate the services we can provide,” Knorr says. “Our goal is always to provide exemplary care to all of our patients and to find ways to better serve the people of Panora, Lake Panorama and surrounding communities.”