By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
GREENVILLE — Building trust within a community is key to providing good health care services and Kelly’s Pharmacy has done that, according to state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-46.
Hinchey presented the pharmacy last Monday with the New York State Senate 2021 Empire Award, which recognizes excellence in business.
Kelly’s Pharmacy has two locations, in Greenville and Coxsackie, and opened its first store in 2011. Hinchey presented the award during a ceremony at the Greenville location on Route 81.
“Kelly’s Pharmacy is really the definition of a community-minded, people-first business, which is so profoundly important, but especially in our rural communities,” Hinchey said. “How do you build that trust in a community? If you need something and it’s after hours, no big pharmacy, no big business is going to open for you or cater to you, but in health care, especially pharmacies, they do that.”
The business was the first pharmacy in the state to work with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to administer a drug take-back program, giving individuals in the community a safe place to drop off old or unwanted medications so they are properly disposed of.
“That is amazing — they had the foresight to recognize and to understand and to see that prescription drugs can fall into the wrong hands and cause addiction and substance-use disorder,” Hinchey said. “The fact that they saw that and wanted to work to stop it before it became a crisis and were working with the state to make sure that they were a safe place where people could dispose of drugs and syringes early and safely, is huge.”
Preventing drug dependency became particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, when drug overdoses spiked, Hinchey said.
“They were doing this pre-COVID and we know that the pandemic has exponentially increased substance-use disorder and addiction in communities — and rural communities have been especially hard hit by that,” Hinchey said. To have a pharmacy that really cares about its people, who cares about the future of its community and will prioritize that in everything it does… is incredible.”
Kelly’s Pharmacy has also taken a leading role locally by making COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots easily accessible to local residents, and has done thousands so far.
“We have done 11,000 vaccines since last year at this time and we have done 6,700 in the last three months,” co-owner Marty Kelly said. “We have done a little over 6,300 [COVID] tests, but the vaccines are the more important part.”
A substantial portion of the vaccines and boosters administered by the pharmacy have been done in the last three months by making access to the shots as convenient as possible, Kelly said.
“We don’t do it by appointment, we do walk-ins, so where other places were requiring appointments and they would do 20, 30 or 40 a day, we were doing 120, 130 a day,” Kelly said. “Our goal was to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get their vaccine and it has worked out well.”
Vaccine and booster shot administration played a role in why Kelly’s Pharmacy was selected for the state award, Hinchey said.
“The amount of vaccines they have given out plays directly to the point that they are focused on serving their community, so it is not surprising that they have been so successful in getting people vaccinated and being a place where people want to go to get the vaccine because they trust them,” the state senator said. “They have built that community trust, so where there is a lot of misinformation about the vaccine flying around, if you have a place like Kelly’s saying ‘come in, we distribute the vaccine and the boosters and it is safe,’ and people trust them, that is going to bring in more people to be vaccinated and it will keep our community safer.”
Co-owner Quinn Kelly said the recognition from the state is gratifying.
“We just do this stuff day in and day out,” Quinn Kelly said. “To receive this award and know that someone is watching, validates what we do. We don’t do it for that, but to know that what we do is recognized is one of the best feelings ever. It feels phenomenal to be honored with this award.”