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2010 Health Care Champion Honoree: James Weissler

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Thirty-eight years into a retail pharmacy career, James Weissler made a major move into a relatively new phenomenon in health care.

Weissler joined the Jordan Valley Community Health Center as its pharmacy director in June 2009.

The federally qualified health center pharmacy, known as a 340B pharmacy under the U.S. Public Health Service Act, makes vital medications available to patients challenged by income, insurance or health care literacy constraints.

“I wanted to do something different in my last 10 to 15 years of my career,” Weissler says. “To work there is beyond just being a pharmacist. We have team goals to help patients who normally wouldn’t be able to receive health care.”

Weissler and his staff of three pharmacists and four full-time technicians work with the medical, dental and behavioral health professionals at Jordan Valley Community Health Center to fill roughly 6,000 prescriptions each month.

“They wouldn’t be getting it otherwise. They do not have insurance,” he says of his patients. “This is their last resort, really.”

Under federal law, Jordan Valley Community Health Center pharmacists can only fill prescriptions written by staff doctors.

As an American Pharmacists Association-certified immunization pharmacist and instructor, Weissler has taught vaccine administration to more than 30 area pharmacists. He was Missouri
Pharmacy Association president 1995–96 and an officer of the association 1991–97, and he was named fellow of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists in 1994.

Weissler got his start behind the drug counter at a Walgreens in St. Louis while attending the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. He graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s in pharmacy, and shortly after moved to Springfield, working for PayRite/Super D Pharmacy on East Kearney Street.
Multiyear stints at Consumer’s, Dillon’s and Walgreens retail pharmacies ended last year with the switch to the community model.

Though he’s serving a different demographic, Weissler says his purpose hasn’t changed.

“My role has always had the same focus – the patient,” he says. “I’m just one pharmacist from thousands of pharmacists who do this. It takes a whole team to make it work.”

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