UNSUNG HEROES 'I miss the handshakes:’ Pharmacist David McGee

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Top of the line staff at McGee's Prescription Shop on Union Street-Stacey Jones and David McGee-who've set the bar high as “Unsung Heroes.”
Submitted photo

In nearly 43 years of service as a local pharmacist, David McGee, owner of McGee’s Prescription Shop, says he’s never experienced anything in his profession which compares to the coronavirus. Aside of not getting to spend quality time with his family, one thing he’s missed most during the pandemic is not being able to shake people’s hands.

“Social interaction with our customers and friends inside our store has been greatly missed,” explains McGee, who says he feels honored to be considered one of the “unsung hero” of COVID-19 2020. “We celebrate the little things and the big accomplishments with our work family and we have missed so many wonderful celebrations with our friends, customers and work family!” 

McGee said his staff and pharmacists are taking great strides to keep everything healthy and normal during this pandemic. Still, the local flavor of the shop is kind of missing right now as customers must still access the drive-through for service.

McGee's Prescription shop on Union Street is the oldest independent pharmacy in Shelbyville, opening its doors in August of 1977 and growing strong ever since, according to McGee. Being “locally owned and independent,” means not being a part of a large corporation. Independent pharmacists, like himself, are usually individuals that live in the local community and according to McGee, typically, for that reason, tend to be more attuned to the needs of their community.

Although, he says he’s quite proud of how all pharmacists nation-wide, as well as all health care providers, who’ve come together to help during this pandemic.

“It has been a group effort of physical and emotional strength that we all have endured together. No, I haven't been through anything like this ever. The worst part is the fear of contracting the COVID19 virus and or avoiding the virus, also not being able to be with my grandchildren and family has been hard. The best part . . . seeing the community come together and work toward a common goal of controlling the spread of the COVID19 and the willingness of the people, locally and nationally, to adjust to a new normal of living.

McGee admits that the ‘new normal’ will be difficult for his generation. He believes a handshake is a “thankful gesture” and a way for him to show his “gratitude” to his customers. He’s still getting use to those advised elbow bumps and head nods, he says.

Like many local businesses, McGee’s decided to close its doors to the public on March 13 to all face-to-face contact and use the drive through window-something which this pharmacist considers right now a life-line for his business. All prescriptions, sundries and gift items are still available through call ahead service. In emergency situations, the pharmacy can make a delivery or two, but thankfully, customers have cooperated with patience and full understanding during this pandemic, he reveals.

“We are being encouraged and trying to keep positive that our economy will rebound and rise up to a new normal for everyone. We all must remain positive and believe that our community and nation will keep strong and continue to beat this coronavirus that has attacked our nation.” 

The pharmacy staff encourages customers waiting for a prescription to either remain in their vehicle or return later to pick up their items. The staff, in turn, wears masks to protect themselves and those around them as well as support social distancing. While staff has always sanitized and kept a tidy clean store, they’re now having to take cleaning protocols to a new level, he says.

“We will continue to encourage RX pick up and drop off at our drive through window, and by all means please if you are sick to not come inside and use the drive through window. Most of our customers who are sick have had a representative from their family come pick up their medicine, but understand that it is not always possible. We work closely with the doctor and nurses and our pharmacist technicians and staff are excellent in communicating to make sure we all are trying to get our medicine home safe and sound.”

The veteran pharmacist says that his store has been able to serve all the needs of his customers during this pandemic, except for continuing to give vaccinations. For the most part, his team hasn’t seen a shortage of essential medications.

“While some items like alcohol, masks, gloves, and vitamin C and Zinc has had a shortage, we have continued to research other vendors to seek the items needed. We hope to get masks and alcohol restocked soon. The stress we have endured was not being able to see our customers face-to-face. We are continuing to follow the [Centers for Disease Control] CDC guidelines to help our employees understand as well as what is suggested and mandated to do in the pharmacy, We have seen our customers rise up and take care of their neighbors and friends and help in all aspects of looking out for each other, including us. We are extremely grateful for our McGee's Prescription Shop staff and are loyal employees that have risked their lives to continue to serve our cooperating customers. We couldn't have survived without leaning on each other.”