Neither cold nor sickness will stand in UT's way, at least not after the Student Health Center unveiled its new, fully operational pharmacy on Tuesday.
The pharmacy accepts all insurance plans and offers all of the medicines that a typical off-campus pharmacy would offer. It also accepts money from VolCard accounts.
UT partnered with Keystone Pharmacy Services to install the facility in spring of 2012. Christopher Jaffurs, Keystone's vice president of business development, explained that the pharmacy's purpose revolves around convenience.
"The reason the university wanted it here in the Student Health Center is that by having the pharmacy here, when students are sick they don't have to leave campus to go get their prescriptions filled," Jaffurs said. "That medication non-compliance, in other words people not taking their medicines or even getting them, is a huge health problem nationwide for all types of population."
The fear was that students who went off-campus to fill prescriptions often forgot or ignored the advice.
"Sometimes if they don't feel really bad, they won't get it at all. They just end up getting sicker and they wind up back here again," he said. "So by making this convenient, it's easy to get to, and it's the same prices they would pay at any pharmacy off-campus. It's a real incentive to come; not only is it easy, but most of the time you're going to pay the same price."
The pharmacy officially opened in November, but due to construction and other hold-ups, the grand opening was saved for Tuesday, Jaffurs said.
Inside the small shop, a few shelves hold basic amenities like toothpaste, condoms, deodorant and lotion. A pharmacist and certified pharmacy technician handle the customer interactions.
For Jim Boyle, the Student Health Center administrator, the presence of a pharmacist inside the Student Health Center is a dream come true.
"We haven't had a pharmacy in forever, so it's been one of my goals to get a pharmacy here," Boyle said. "It's a multiple benefit situation. It benefits the health center because we have a pharmacy and our doctors can talk to the pharmacist and back and forth. You give better care."
He echoed Jaffurs sentiment that some students may not have been filling their prescription in a timely manner, and said that the pharmacy's convenience would stop that problem.
"They'll be able to get the medicines they need more quickly, and hopefully if there's a problem, they can come in and talk to somebody about it," he said. "You shouldn't have the volume you have at regular pharmacies, you should actually be able to talk to the pharmacist pretty easily here."
The pharmacy is open to the public and holds the same licensing of any other pharmacy in the country, but Boyle said the primary customers are students.
"It should be extremely competitive," he said. "If you're on campus and it's easy to stop by, it should be a little more convenient. It's designed to be convenient to students, but if it's convenient for the faculty and staff as well, great."
Boyle also mentioned the educational possibilities of the Student Health Center's newest feature. UT has a competitive pre-pharmacy program.
"I'm sure there will be, but we haven't established it yet," he said. "At other schools I've worked at, that's been a big part of it, and we have enough room to do it. We have to get on our feet, but I know that's in our plans for the future."
The pharmacy opens at 8:30 a.m. every weekday except Wednesday when it opens at 9 a.m. It closes at 5:30 p.m. and is not open on weekends.