Just What The Doc Ordered
Pharmacist Says Focus On Patients The Right Rx
Posted: January 7, 2013
HARRISONBURG — Gene Layman’s something of an old-school kind of pharmacist.
You’d have to understand that in order to fully appreciate the joke he made in response to a woman asking him how he knows all of his customers’ names.
“I got an app on my iPhone. When someone pulls [into the parking lot] I can look at it and say, ‘Oh, Laura’s coming in. Hi, Laura,’” the 65-year-old Harrisonburg resident recalls with a laugh.
Truth is, knowing the names of the customers speaks to the philosophy he’s kept at Harrisonburg Pharmacy for the last 25 years.
“Treating someone like you want to be treated still works,” he said.
The relationships with his customers and employees make the sale of his store bittersweet, he said.
“Everybody treats everybody like family,” he said.
Layman sold his business on Reservoir Street near the intersection of University Boulevard to Medicap Pharmacy.
Harrisonburg Family Practice, a physicians group next door, will take over the Harrisonburg Pharmacy space, he said.
Layman, a native of Dayton, graduated from the former Medical College of Virginia in 1970.
He then worked for Rockingham Memorial Hospital’s pharmacy for 16 years as an administrator.
In the mid-1980s, the opportunity to run his own pharmacy came up when doctors decided to build Harrisonburg Family Practice out in, what was then, a rural area on the outskirts of Harrisonburg.
Layman’s store opened in 1987 as part of Brown’s Pharmacies. It became Harrisonburg Pharmacy in 1998.
Over the years, he’s mentored James Madison University students looking to go to pharmacy school or medical school, some of whom come back to thank him for his assistance.
Helping patients, though, is the most rewarding aspect of his job, he said, like the premature baby he’s seen grown into a healthy young woman who went on to become a cheerleader at Broadway High School.
Layman said his store sometimes feels like the hit sitcom “Seinfeld,” with customers stopping in and talking to employees about their lives much in the style of NBC’s former “show about nothing.”
“It’s a lot of vignettes,” he said.
But with so many changes coming to the industry in terms of technology and regulation, Layman said it’s time for him to retire — sort of.
He plans to continue to work as a pharmacist for Medicap a couple of days a week.
Layman said that Jathan Payne, owner of Medicap, seems to have a similar philosophy to his.
The reasons for selling his business are many, he said, including his age and the additional requirements being made by the federal and state governments.
Not to mention the traffic on Reservoir Street, which the city of Harrisonburg will be expanding in the future.
The pictures taken at the time his store was under construction demonstrate just how much development has taken place on Harrisonburg’s eastern side over the past 25 years.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I just don’t like the responsibilities that come with owning your own store.”
Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or email@example.com