For patients, staff, and visitors to the Outpatient Pavilion at UConn Health, the shiny new Arrow Pharmacy on the first floor is something of a treasure. Not only can people pick up prescriptions and consult with the pharmacist on staff, they can purchase over the counter meds, basic travel items, health and wellness products, and other medical and non-medical necessities.
Need a flu shot or an immunization before travel? That can happen, too. Arrow Pharmacy can give the CDC adult recommended vaccines such as hepatitis, zoster, and pneumonia, without a prescription.
Manager of the pharmacy, which opened this past May, is Jill St. Germain ’07 (PharmD) and the story of how she came to this position is a testament to her perseverance and the willingness of Angelo DeFazio ’85 (Pharm) to mentor an eager young student.
DeFazio is the president and CEO of Arrow Pharmacy & Nutrition Centers, the largest independent pharmacy chain in Greater Hartford. He also serves on the UConn Foundation’s Board of Directors and he has been a frequent champion of students in UConn’s School of Pharmacy.
He says, “I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career, and all of my success is based on earning my degree in pharmacy from UConn. Earning that degree and then getting my pharmacy license helped me forge a successful career path, so helping others, especially students who are seeking opportunities in pharmacy, seems natural. It is just the right thing to do.”
For someone who says she is inherently a shy person, it took a deep breath and a ton of initiative for St.Germain to approach DeFazio after he spoke at her white coat ceremony at the start of her first professional (P-1) year. As a fledgling pharmacy student, she was inspired by DeFazio’s charge to the incoming students and she took the opportunity to tell him that she had fallen in love with the profession when she began working at a local pharmacy in her hometown of Canterbury, Conn. when she was just 16 years old.
“I knew from the time I was little that I wanted to do something in the medical field, and when I started working at my local pharmacy it pretty quickly became my goal to own my own store some day,” she says. “And here I was listening to someone who seemed to be living my dream.”
For his part, DeFazio says that giving back to his alma mater is not an obligation, it’s a responsibility. “When Jill told me that she not only wanted to become a pharmacist, she also had the dream of owning her own pharmacy some day, I knew I wanted to help her achieve her goals,” he says.
And with that, the two began to work together to see that St. Germain would get everything she wanted out of her education.
DeFazio says, “Jill was my first student in an elective entrepreneur class I taught as an adjunct professor. Her questions, her willingness to devote extra time, and her intuition to be non-linear in her approach to problem solving set her apart from others. She has never been afraid to take a chance.”
During a month-long business entrepreneurial rotation at the Arrow Pharmacy at 500 Farmington Avenue in Hartford, St. Germain began learning the business aspects of running a pharmacy. She went on to earn her MBA from UConn in 2015, but she stresses the importance of this early ‘hands on’ training with DeFazio in helping to focus her goals.
After earning her PharmD, St. Germain began working full time at Arrow and when the company won the bid to establish the pharmacy at the Outpatient Pavilion at UConn Health she jumped at the chance to manage it when offered the opportunity by DeFazio.
“I was given the opportunity of a lifetime by Angelo,” St. Germain says, “and I worked with the architects, the builders, everyone involved. My goal was to make this a place where people would feel comfortable and get the best quality care. I wanted our image to coordinate with the rest of the building; it’s a beautiful place and I wanted to mirror the campus here at UConn.”
DeFazio says that St. Germain fits right in with Arrow’s well-established culture of caring. “At Arrow, we really do seek out the ‘right’ people. It’s even there in our jingle, ‘You’ll feel better because we care!” It’s in our DNA and it’s what sets us apart.”
The pharmacy is open from Monday through Friday, in keeping with the hours of the Outpatient Pavilion, and St. Germain stresses that it is a true community pharmacy. Though most of the foot traffic comes from patients, employees, family members, and medical staff, “We will take care of anyone who walks in the door. If people from the neighborhood want to use our services, we’re here for them, as well,” she says with a smile.