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New pharmacy opens in Veneta, to the relief of locals

Earlier this year, we reported on how the departure of the Bi-Mart pharmacy in Veneta left residents in a lurch. But a new pharmacy is in town to fill the void…and prescriptions.

Inside Ray’s Food Place in Veneta, Brian Crook and staff at Caris Pharmacy greet customers. Open for a month now, most locals don’t hold back about how happy they are to have a pharmacy back in town.

“I appreciate you moving out this way,” said one elderly woman.

“Oh yeah, we don’t want to drive into town all the time!” said another, before leaving with her friend. Both thanked Crook as they took their prescriptions and left the counter. Shortly afterwards, another man came and excitedly announced he was transferring his prescription from a Eugene pharmacy to Caris, after months of criss-crossing between the larger city and this community of 4,700.

Crook says it’s a common sentiment.

“We’re making it a lot more convenient for people to stay local, get the medications on time. Veneta is really too large, to not have a pharmacy.”

In addition to prescriptions, Caris is also providing COVID shots and boosters.

Heather Crook, VP of Caris Pharmacy
Brian Bull
Heather Crook, VP of Caris Pharmacy

Crook’s wife, Heather, vice-president of Caris, says extended drives for rural patients’ medication are unsustainable, and for many who are elderly or suffer particularly chronic conditions, taxing and dangerous.

“Providing this opportunity for folks to have access within five minutes of their home is saving lives.”

Veneta resident Derek Humphry originally told KLCC back in January about Bi-Mart closing its pharmacy. When told about Caris Pharmacy opening in his town, Humphry was delightfully surprised, and said that this was “a step in the right direction.” The 92-year-old said otherwise, he’d have to do a 35-mile round trip into Eugene for his meds.

Another couple, Scott and Maria Davis, are working with the Crooks and plan to open a second Caris Pharmacy in Junction City later this year.

The Crooks said their pharmacy name is the combination of their children’s names, “Carly” and “Isaac,” which helped them come up with a unique brand.

Brian Crook recently served as Vice-President of Pharmacy for Bi-Mart for 15 years, which gave him foresight into the situation facing Veneta residents and others in more remote areas outside larger urban centers. He says the process began in February to get Caris Pharmacy established, to keep locals from having to travel great distances to access medication and other services.

Heather Crook says she wants to continue to implement a care-centered approach for other rural communities in need of pharmaceutical services.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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