The next time Effie Chambers needs blood pressure medication, she won’t have to worry about hitching a ride from a friend.
Chambers (at right in photo) stopped in Tuesday afternoon at Fair Haven’s new Hancock Pharmacy VII, which held a grand opening party at 306 Grand Ave. The first-time customer became an instant convert.
Chambers got a new batch of medication from the store’s manager, pharmacist Lalith Pasupeleti (at right in photo above). She also got a promise:
the new pharmacy will pick up her prescriptions, and deliver the meds to her apartment, for free. And if she walks into the store, she’s guaranteed a wait time of less than 10 minutes.
“That’s a promise we make—and that’s a promise we will keep,” said Rajendra Appalaneni, who owns the Bridgeport-based Hancock Pharmacy group. Grand Avenue pharmacy the seventh store in the chain; all of them offer the free delivery in low-income areas where many people don’t have cars.
Chambers lives at the River Run apartment complex near the Quinnipiac River. Before Tuesday, she had to catch a ride with a friend to the nearest Rite Aid to pick up prescriptions. Next time, she can just pick up a phone.
“I love it to death,” Chambers said as she stood at the counter. “They deliver!”
Two full-time pharmacists and five part-time staff will work at the store, which is at the corner of Grand and Blatchley in the heart of Fair Haven’s Latino community. Pasupeleti said the chain chose the site because the majority of people don’t have their own transportation.
“This community needs a pharmacy,” he said.
The pharmacy will be bilingual to serve the many Spanish-speakers in the area. The spot is also just two blocks from the Fair Haven Health Clinic, which serves low-income patients in the neighborhood. Now, Pasupeleti said, patients’ doctors can call in their prescriptions from the clinic. By the time patients walk down to the pharmacy, he said, their meds will be ready to pick up.
The new store brings good news to the street. The spot where the pharmacy now stands was vacant for many years. When snow melted in the winter, it would form huge pools on the sidewalk, sending pedestrians across the street. Hancock put in “thousands of dollars” to renovate the first-floor, 5,000-square-foot retail spot, a company representative said.
Neighborhood leaders celebrated Tuesday with a block party, including hot dogs, wraps, and tropical-flavored ices from the Catch the Flava cart.
Fair Haven Alderwoman Migdalia Castro pronounced the day a “victory” for the neighborhood. (She’s pictured at center with fellow Alderman Joey Rodriguez in stripes.)
Mayor John DeStefano (pictured cutting the ribbon) said when he walks down Grand Avenue, it’s remarkable to see “every storefront filled.” It points to the strength of the community, he said.
People in Fair Haven stay in the neighborhood to shop, eat, go to school and worship, he said. The neighborhood has a strong merchant’s association (the Spanish American Merchant’s Association, whose local director, Frank Alvarado, at far left in photo, emceed the event), he added.
“More than any other neighborhood in the city,” DeStefano said, Fair Haven is rooted in, and contained within itself.
The mayor noted that the pharmacy has already found a way to build support within the neighborhood.
“This is going to be successful,” he predicted.
The pharmacy at 306 Grand Ave. is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hours will soon be extended, Pasupeleti said.