Heroes of Healthcare
Heroes of Healthcare

Episode · 1 year ago

When the Pharmacy Was Your Doctor


Making their own medications. Prescribing meds to customers right on the spot. Pharmacists were a different kind of healthcare hero back in the mid 20th century.

In this episode of Heroes of Healthcare, host Ted Weyn Jr. interviews his father, Ted Weyn Sr., a 91-year-old retired pharmacist.

The pair discusses…

  • The responsibilities of a pharmacist in the mid 20th century
  • Why the drugstore was so integral to the community
  • How pharmacies did more than just fill prescriptions

Heroes of Healthcare is hosted by Ted Weyn.

To hear this interview and more like it, subscribe to Heroes of Healthcare on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

You're listening to heroes of healthcare, the podcast that highlights bold, selfless professionals in the healthcare industry focused on transforming lives in their communities. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the first episode of the heroes of Healthcare podcast. My name is Ted Wayne and I'll be your host. We're excited to get this new series launched and we thought no better fitting way than to have my personal hero join us who is also involved with the healthcare industry, and that was my dad. So welcome to the show, Dad. Thank you, thank you for having me. So I'm Ted Junior. This is Ted Senior and we want to get into trying to understand. So tell me and tell the listeners, what year were you born? One Thousand Nine hundred and twenty nine. It was a pretty big event that year. I guess it was I was born that you were born that year. So that was a good first event. And what else happened that year? One Thousand Nine hundred and twenty nine? Well, I look depression started right. Yeah, was a year the stock market crash, right, right. So it's funny because we were talking last weekend about all the different things you've seen throughout your lifetime, being their young age of ninety one, that you got to see World War II, right, Korea, man on the Moon, and the moon twin too, was, unfortunately. Yeah, a pandemic now. So all of them. Yeah, and now at another another election you got to go through to now, right at the timing of the recording of this. Yeah, this was an exciting one. Yeah. So I know that your healthcare relationship is you spend many years being a pharmacist or working in a pharmacy. Yes, so when was your first job at a pharmacy and where was that and when was that? Well, not to be long. When died, I went with a friend of mine to pick up his mother's prescription at a pharmacy, I guess I'm can mentioned the name now, Rendoman's pharmacy, and while we were there, the pharmacists looked at me and said do you still want that job, which I had no clue over, but I said yes, whatever it was. So he said come in the back and the interview to me, and I got the job. I worked Monday, Wednesday and Friday from three to six and got thirty three cents an hour. Wow, and so that and that was the minimum wage was fifty cents, but they put me down as an apprentice so they could pay me less. Okay, so they paid me thirty three cents an hour and on Saturday at work nine to six and I got another three dollars. So I had six dollars a week salary. And you were how old then? Fourteen and a half. Six Bucks back then was pretty good. I to wish June sat agnes high school. I studied in high school right around the corner, so I could be at the drug store and minutes. So that's how I could work from three to six. Okay, and back then my senses and my view of that was that it always takes me back to it's a wonderful life with Jimmy Stewart and he was the young man working with old man gower in the pharmacy. Right. I was even more fortunate because we had a big back room in the pharmacy with two easy chairs where a lot of the professional people in town would congregate at times. So it was very interesting as a young boy to be with doctors and lawyers and insurance salesman and even the mailman and everybody. Just as a side we had a drug sign at the outside of the store. All it said was drugs and we had a laundry in town which Charlie stribe used to pick up your laundry and wash it and all and bring it...

...back to you. They can't do that today anymore. And if he saw the sign lit during the day as he passed by, he would come in and deliver the prescriptions for the pharmacy that were there. And so after three o'clock that became my job on a bicycle. Yeah, I was very intu wresting. We made a lot of extra temporaneous drugs. We made our own APC's, which was aspiring fantastic, and caffeine and fifteen and thirty milligrams of codeine. Cough medicines were always more or less compounded. They were not poured out of a bottle. was usually a narcotic like codeine or ammonium chloride and an antihistamine. I remembered chiding John Rendiman, the pharmacist, how he could only get ninety five cents for a four rounce mixture of this compound. I thought he was being very, very frugal that he should raise it to a dollar in a quarter right. That would have made. There was a big it would have made a big difference in the margins made. We made suppositories, vaginal and Rectel, and we worked in the refrigerator to actually we opened the refrigerator door goes. We were working with cocoa butter which would melt very quickly, so we had to work in the cold, cold atmosphere. What else? We made a lot of lotions emotions. We still compounded them. What else can I say? So very different than the current day where everything is prepackaged and premade and comes in a bottle. You guys had to they had they every had their special formulas. They had me do the cellar role. Of over, I built shelves in the cellar and they had lots of medications down there. In fact, I found a three quarters of a gallon turpen hydrate and heroine. HMM, that's an interesting combination. That's right, and it was used more before the one thousand nine hundred and sixteen narcotic act. I guess you would lay in there a long time. They also had a brick of heroin. I don't know how big it was, but they kept it in the safety deposit bank next door. They finally turned it into the feds narcotics after the war and the heroine and Turpin hyderate we dumped down the drain because they were never going to use it again. So the whole experience was great. Tell me, in your view, how does the pharmacy changed from kind of what it is today to what it was back then? You mentioned to me in the past how, especially during the depression, certain individuals maybe couldn't afford healthcare whatever. In the pharmacist really became the local you know, what we might call today, physician assistant or nurse practitioner or you know, but they became the community medical person who was helping out those who are less fortunate. You're absolutely right. Actually, I guess nurse Practitioner or is a is a good term. Yes, people didn't want to pay the fee for a doctor. This was coming right out of the depression years. And with simple things. There would come into the store constipation, upset stomach. I always remember constipation was treated with a shot of Cascaris a grata, like a whiskey shot in a tumbler of milk, a Magnesia. Now we didn't we didn't make that, but we sold the CASHCARRAS Agrada and, you know, gave the instructions. Yellow ox side of Mercury was first eyes. We sold that over the counter when they came in with eye problems. peptobismal over ice and drink had with a straw was the remedy for upset stomach. I can recall being a, you know, young man working in what was...

...later the pharmacy that you had and you owned, and customer would come in and ask if they could talk to the dock and I remember saying, you know who's the you know who's the dock, and they would point to you and then I would come back and tell you this gentleman or woman would like to talk to you and you move over to the side of the counter and you'd have a little impromptu consult right there with the people in the store. That's true. And we and our time was given freely. In other words, if it's a half hour, it didn't make any difference. You know, no one was under a rush or on the clock right felt, you know, we never, I don't. We always felt that we were doing a sort of a human being service, I guess, a friendly service, and so we gave them whatever knowledge we had or even said many times. You know, this is I think you should go to a doctor. HMM, this is beyond me. You know, I don't know what you have and I think that you know instead of treating yourself. So in that sense I guess we were directing people in the right path right well, and that's it was. We talked about with the heroes of healthcare that these are individuals and organizations that are really helping the community. He touched upon earlier. Let's go back to so you were working at Renneman's pharmacy and that was in Queens New York. I think we forgot to mention that earlier on. In College Point New York, and then you obviously thought well enough of this that you decided to pursue it in college. Yes, I went to Ford them a four year course. Actually I went to a Liberal Watch college before for a spuncher of years. So as a little late in going to pharmacy school, but by then the veterans were all coming home. One thousand nine hundred and forty five, the war was over and we had a pharmacist that was in the fought in the Pacific as a pharmacist mate. I guess and he was going to he was groomed to take over for one of the brothers in renomens. We got very close. He was a very smart gentleman. In fact he was my best man and when I got married he gave a lot to the store and his expertise because of the war and all who. Yes, I went to Fordham and after I graduated I work for renniments and I finally had an opportunity to help the fellow store owner who worked six years opened his own business and work six years without a vacation and seven days a week, and I was asked if I could cover for him with my license and a friend of mine who was working for him, so he could go to Cuba for his first vacation. And that's obviously that was before Cuba was closed. That wasn't for Cuba was closed. Yes, and in that Association for he asked me to come and work for him full time, I which I did, because I thought they had enough help now in rediments with the GI coming home, and so I went with him in it, which was a very fortuitous move. He was a bachelor, didn't need the money, lived at home with his mother and sister, so he could pay me a little more than I would usually get. And you remember what year was a well, that was in the I would say the top hair for the S. maybe one thousand nine hundred and fifty eight. Okay. I worked for him through then through the s. In the early seventy's he's sort of gave me an idea that his retirement and I didn't know whether I wanted to stay in retail or go on perhaps the institutional practice. So I got my manister's degree in institutional practice, heavy on pharmacology at St John's, just to have a backup in case I couldn't afford to buy him out. Well, when the time...

...came, in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine, I was able to buy him out through his generosity, but we came to good terms and I took over the store in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine, one thousand nine hundred and eighty, I computerized the store and from then on I worked with St John's. I got to know sister Jane who was in my institutional practice class, and she started an apprentice program at St John's which I took over the retail end of the apprentice program at St John's. So when you took over what I now remember salesman chemists, that's when I grew up. I remember that most vividly. Obviously that's when I was born and as a young man, came to the store from time to time. But when you think back to your days at Salzman chemists and that community, how is saltzman chemists a part of the community? How did you guys both to give back? We talked a little bit about kind of the sideline doc things, but how did you see salesman chemist really kind of being part of the community? Well, we were very close to the community. Across the way from us was what was called Parkway village or UN village. There were all the employees of the United Nations. When night nations got more settled, some of the upper echelon moved out to lake success, but the workers the end of the lawyers, engineers, scientists, all stayed in Parkway village and we became very close to the community. And fact, Roy Wilkins was ANAACP was over there. Yeah, big civil rights leader. Who Civil Rights leader at the time? You saw him with President Johnson and Martin Luther King and the newsreels. There was a morning I got to know Mr Wilkins very well and Matilda, his family, his wife, and I saw him waiting at the bus St up which was right on Mike, the corner of Salzman Kennis, and I went after say good morning and he never said a word, but he just handed me the magazine that he was reading and it was Time magazine with his face on the cover. Oh Wow. So there he was, leaning against the telephone pole waiting for a bus and he was a main photo on time to z on the cover of Time magazine and and still taking the bus, still taken the buzz into the city. Had got to know a little bit about some of the big I mean the interesting people at the UN and I participated in their activities. I contributed money, basically, and advertisement, you know, in our store and all for the things that they were interested in and doing. I also was able at that time there was a, well, there were still is an existence, but it was much bigger, creed more mental institution Onlong Island and they used to have an outpatient department where they gave out medications or even did injections for mental patients. Somewhere along the line the hospital realized that most of these people were on Medicaid and they decided that they would not pay for these medicines when Medicaid should be paying for them. So they stopped the process of giving them medications and gave them prescriptions instead. To the LEA stop. You that hey'll be understand the difference between what the medications were or the prescription. These were anti psychotic drugs, right, but they actually gave them, put the medicine in their hand and they administered. Sure, they took them. Case if it was an injection, they gave them an injection. But they felt that medicaide should pay for that rather than them giving that to them. And so when Medicaid said they were going to...

...stop paying for that, they decided k did take over the pain for that. Okay, what happened is they gave these patients prescriptions instead of giving them the medicine, so they had to go get conscription film pharmacy. I applied for the position to take care of the satellites, the outpatient departments because I had two friends who worked as pharmacists in creed Moore and they told me what was going on and they told said that I should apply to take care of the outpatient department. They did not give it to me because they thought it was a conflict of interests because these two people were friends of wine. Creed Moore. Did Not give it to me. Okay, but after a year I got a telephone call from creedmore and asked if I was still interested in doing that. Because of compliance. These people were taking the prescription sort of pharmacy and the pharmacy said they had to come back because some of them were very expensive and they didn't carry them, so they had order them. But nobody came. They forgot to come back and get their medicine. and was that because of a part of their challenges, of their their course, because their mental illness and condition right? Actually, so they creed more are found out that a lot of patients were coming back to their visits without their medications. Okay, which we certainly became a big problem. Now I passed creed more every morning and every night going back and forth to work and I said I would certainly be very happy to pick up the prescriptions of the morning and deliver them in the evening so they could have complete compliance. They could have the medicine in the outpatient department. M Well, that was very wise move because it turned into a very interesting because I had a little pharmacology background and I could sit in on some of the work sessions between doctors and attendance, you know it, you know, an offer whatever knowledge I had about the medications of different rescriptions. So that became another interesting part of my pharmacy career. Let's see what else? What are some of the when you think back to your you know, probably whichever the years. What are kind of a couple of funnier anecdotal stories that might come to mind of things that happened either in the store at renemens or your years at Salzman chemists? Well, in those days, going way back, people made their own eye solutions which out of boric acid. You could buy boric as and premade, but it should have bork as it should really have been used fresh. So we recommend it to people made their own fresh boric acid solution. And what is boric acid? How do you make that? Well, as you boil war, you bring border to a boil and pour a boric acid which adds solubility which was set and you could just let that set at that solution would make its own strength of boric acid. That was usable, okay, and then you could decant that off and have your fresh boric acid solution. But of course you needed a dropper to put the boric ass into your eyes or an eye cup. Most people ought opted for a dropper. So in those days they had droppers that had a curve, beviled edge, and they would come in and say I need a dropper and I would pick up a guy would say is it for the right or left eye? And they looked at me and said I didn't know there was different droppers. So I would pick up the bevil dropper and the bevil turned to the left and say this is for the left eye. Then I would bend over and pick up the same dropper and bettel...

...to the right and say this is for the right eye. Well, which was my little sense of humor, but I got a big kick out of that. And the days they never knew there was droppers for left or right eyes, but they learned some thing. Did they ever ask that they needed one for both them? Did you sell them both of them? Then I confess and said you really can use them. Oh, I'll go. Okay, that's good. What else. Well, it was fun working the fellow who came out from the South Pacific and there was a pharmacist and was going to take over from one of the brothers used to try and make me laugh all the time when I was seriously talking to a customer or a patient, and he used to stand in the stairway by going down the stairs in the store with an Enima bag on his head. When I looked up, what could I do but laughs right, right, which was a little embarrassing at times. But he brought a lot of a lot of sophistication to the the pharmacy, to the store. So these are amusing anecdotes. In salesman chemists, I had a lot of eyes. You can understand European and Asian customers. and One night I got a prescription for e vaginal cream, a vaginal Douche and they not an anima bag, but a Douchebag, you know, to do all this. And the instructions. I could read the prescriptions but there was a fourth instructions and it said please instruct patient on use. Not something you really wanted to do, and she didn't understand English. Oh even they've made a more challenging try that for a challenge. Yeah, and the funny thing is that I always found out that when they didn't understand me, I kept talking louder right thinking they would said they would understand me. Yeah, but yeah, there were already very many funny incidents. Well, thanks for sharing those stories with me. I remember recall again being your son and being at a young age and you bringing me into the store and it was either the grab a piece of candy was always a big highlight. I think I remember you didn't sell baseball cards. That was always a big disappointment because I always wanted baseball cards. You know, I remember my youth growing up in the pharmacy and it was a place where you learned a lot about not only human anatomy, but the birds in the bees and all sorts of different things that you were exposed to as a young man there. But it also taught me customer service skills and taking care of the customers as they came in. So I wanted to thank you for being part of this first initial show the heroes of healthcare. As we talked in our introductory episode, we're going to have lots of exciting guests on the show from all different walks and different areas within the healthcare but certainly pharmacists are part of that healthcare world and and as we're going to have on each episode, these are people who are doing heroic things in the healthcare world. I select ask you to be first one because you were my hero. I was very fortunate to have you and mom, and you guys said great examples for us, both with hard work, integrity, doing thing, doing the right things, and always with a dry wit, which I appreciate as well. But as I going to close each of these episodes with each of the other guests, my question to you is, who was your hero, either when you were growing up or now? Well, I had to heros, my my uncle, Herman. My mother and father were divorced and we went and lived with my grandparents and my mother's brother. I thought he was I guess I have a few people that I'm admire him for different reasons. I had a sanitation worker work for me who...

I relied on a great deal, who came with me and he worked with you in Sulven Times in case, yes, and I always thought that if I were President of the United States, I would have joe come with me. All the time and just know his opinion and it wasn't Joe Biden and it wasn't Joe Biden, Joe Karrossia, try Rossia, that's right. And I guess my best man, Ray, who was came home from the service. I felt very I thought he was a brilliant man to so yeah, I would say. You know, I didn't. I don't know if if they change my life or not, but they were three ordinary people who I thought perhaps could have done better or should have done better, and I always thought that. I say, we had a lot on the ball. That's great. So they three guys who made a difference in your life and other people's lives later. Life right kind as a well, my uncle was right from the beginning, but Joe and ray came later on after the war, and all great. Well, thanks for being part of this thanks for being part of my life and part of this show. Thank you all for listening and joining in. We're excited to see where the show is going to go. We've got some exciting guests already booked up and we're looking forward to having them continue to contribute to this podcast. If you want to get in touch with us, please reach out on our website. You can reach his head heroes of healthcare podcastcom. Feel free to connect with me on Linkedin at Ted we yn on Linkedin. And thanks for joining us and we look forward to coming back to you with the next show coming up soon. By now you've been listening the heroes of healthcare for more. Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visit us at heroes of healthcare podcastcom.

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