I recently had the chance to sit down with Tom Kelly, owner of Medicine to Go in Forked River.
Good Afternoon Tom, How did you and your wife get introduced to the Pharmaceutical business?
My wife Samantha and I are third generation pharmacists. Samantha’s grandfather, Joseph Damiano, established Damiano’s Pharmacy in 1933 in the middle of the Great Depression. His pharmacy is still thriving in Clifton, NJ under the leadership of his son (our uncle) John Damiano and granddaughter Dr. Sara Damiano. Samantha worked at Damiano’s Pharmacy while attending Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, which ultimately provided the inspiration for us to open our first store. A family history living on.
When did you open Medicine to Go?
We opened Medicine To Go Pharmacies in 1997 as a Medicine Shoppe franchise store. By mutual agreement we left the franchise in 2005 and changed our name to Medicine To Go Pharmacies. While I worked in Lacey, Samantha worked at Kapler’s Pharmacy of Beach Haven in order to support our family. She fell in love with Kapler’s and subsequently purchased the store from friend and partner David DeCarlo in 2003.
Do you have any other pharmacies in Ocean County?
In 2005 we heard of a pharmacy closing in Lakewood and contacted David DeCarlo and David Healy. We formed a partnership and promptly signed the lease and opened Medicine To Go Pharmacies of Lakewood.
How were you able to help after the fire in 2007?
In May of 2007 during the Warren Grove Gunnery Range fire, which blackened 14,000 acres and displaced 6,000 residents Tom Kelly provided emergency prescription medication at no charge to evacuees at the Southern Regional High School.
How were you able to assist during Super Storm Sandy?
2012 brought a particularly challenging year. Ocean County took a direct hit from Super Storm Sandy. Kapler’s Pharmacy sustained catastrophic damage. In spite of the storm, Kapler’s never stopped servicing fellow storm victims. Once again the Kelly’s provided much needed medications to the victims and the first responders at no charge. No one went without their medicine. A fact that the Kelly’s are very proud of. We temporarily relocated Kapler’s Pharmacy to a second floor apartment above Kapler’s, then to Medicine To Go of Lacey, then to the Regenerate Store in Beach Haven before finally moving back to the original location in May 2013.
I see that part of Kapler’s move to Manahawkin, what specialties does this pharmacy offer?
During the Aftermath of Sandy we relocated the Compounding Division of Kapler’s Medicine Solutions to Manahawkin to help ensure that the patients who had to relocate did not have to find a new pharmacy to trust with their needs. The Compounding Division services all of our locations and is just another way we can ensure our patients get the medications they need in the best manner for them.
Tell me a little bit about Hot or Not Yoga Studio.
Samantha Kelly opened Hot or Not Yoda Studio in May of 2012 with the intention of assisting her patients get healthier and reducing their need for medications. Additionally the yoga studio served as an emergency shower and laundry site for Long Beach Island’s first responders, and a collection site for needed food and clothing for the victims of the storm. The studio gives back to the community by providing classes at no charge where students can donate funds or goods to many various local non-profit organizations.
How is it that in spite of the intense competition due to nine other pharmacies opening in our marketing area Medicine To Go not only survives but thrives and continues to grow?
Fundamentally our success starts during at hiring. We hire staff that understands our patient philosophy, who demonstrate dedication to the idea of being true neighbors to our patients, and who are patient advocates.
Does the pharmacy make you wait more that 15-20 minutes when you or a loved one is feeling ill or uncomfortable?
Absolutely not, we completely understand when you have a loved one who is feeling ill or uncomfortable. Working to fill your medication quickly so you can get home to rest, relax and feel better is very important to us.
Do you get a sense that the staff genuinely care about you and your health?
Family is the core how we work, it’s how we came about, and what makes us continue to thrive. We treat our staff like family. We treat our patients like family. We focus on retaining staff whose prime objectives above all else is caring for patients. Our team embraces each patient interaction as if they represent the patient, not the pharmacy. They take ownership of each patient’s challenge and work toward a successful outcomes. Not representing Medicine to Go, but the patient as if they were the patient’s son, brother, sister or mother.
Thank you Tom for taking the time for this interview.
Medicine to Go
528 W. Lacey Road
Forked River, NJ 08731