By Eileen Persike
There’s a new pharmacy partnership in the Northwoods. It was forged as a way to keep a longtime business independent, and allow a longtime Rhinelander pharmacist to retire.
A few years ago pharmacist Corky Stoxen started looking for a way to ease into retirement, but he wanted someone to take over the business that had been in his family since 1970, and keep it independent. This is where Tabitha Bennish, 2015 University of Wisconsin Madison School of Pharmacy graduate, enters the picture.
“I had been working here eight or nine months when Corky brought [purchasing the pharmacy] up,” Bennish said, adding. “I think to his surprise I said yes.”
Stoxen had already explored the idea of partnering with Hometown Pharmacies, so when Bennish said yes, they moved ahead. Hometown Pharmacies, which is a group of independent pharmacies that banded together, was a good option, Bennish said, because it will provide among other things, business services and enhanced buying power.
“What was really great is they took care of the business aspect of the purchase,” Bennish, who grew up in the Gleason area said. “Other independents have done the same thing, but they are mainly in the southern part of Wisconsin. Hopefully we’ll be leading the way up north.”
Bennish started out in pre-pharmacy at UW-Madison, but after volunteering in the community thought she would perhaps go into nursing or social work. She received her Bachelor of Science in nutrition science, something she’d always been interested in. After graduation Bennis said she took a technician job which reinforced her love of pharmacy.
“I like getting to use what I learned in school, to help patients,” said Bennish of her career choice. “And it’s nice to interact with not just the patients but the providers, too.”
The pharmacy will soon begin offering immunizations and other injectible medicines that patients’ insurance might not cover but their drug coverage would. Bennish said eventually they will initiate delivery services down the road and perhaps make other changes.
“I’m really excited to be here and implement things that will benefit patients,” Bennish said.
Corky Stoxen will continue to work a couple of days a week, so he’s not going cold turkey into retirement. He said he has really enjoyed his 47-year career as a pharmacist; a career that allows patients to become friends.
“You enjoy your job, blink your eyes and you’re 69 years old,” Stoxen said. “And just wonder…how did that happen?”