Summit Community Care Clinic opens innovative in-office pharmacy

Kate Leopold, the pharmacist in charge at the Mountain Care Pharmacy, is pictured at work on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. The Mountain Care Pharmacy opened on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.
Eili Wright/Summit Daily News

Between a job, relationships, taking care of children or attending to daily responsibilities, it can be hard to carve out time for health, said Helen Royal, CEO of Summit Community Care Clinic. 

That’s why the clinic has opened a pharmacy within its office space. 

Last Monday, Sept. 12, the Summit Community Care Clinic opened their Mountain Care Pharmacy.

The clinic is located on the first floor of the Medical Office Building in Frisco and offers accessible medical, behavioral and dental care to Summit County residents.

After an appointment at the clinic and before a patient leaves the building, patients can receive a prescription and walk out of the door with their medication — all within the same timeframe. 

“If someone is experiencing severe depression, and they made it to their mental health appointment and maybe they got a prescription … the energy it might take for a depressed person to then coordinate going to wherever and standing and waiting for it to be filled, might just be too much,” Royal said. 

Kate Leopold, the pharmacist in charge at Mountain Care Pharmacy, said the pharmacy also offers her a unique chance to care for patients. 

Instead of running the pharmacy as a separate entity, the pharmacist works alongside the clinicians. Leopold said this allows her access to medical history, labs and conversation with those prescribing medicine. 

“It’s really neat to work side by side with them, to be on site with them and to be part of the team,” Leopold said. 

Royal added that Kate’s face-to-face interactions with people who get care at the office provides a unique benefit for both patients and providers. 

“Because we have Kate interfacing regularly with our providers, there’s great coordination of care around medication and how it’s working, side effects, helping people understand how to take it correctly,” Royal said. “That just has great benefits for patients in their health outcomes and how they receive care.”

While this pharmacy only serves Summit Community Care Clinic patients, Royal reported that the clinic serves up to 8,100 patients per year and has about 30,000 appointments, numbers that she said are growing every year. 

In addition to breaking down scheduling and distance barriers to medication, the clinic has also worked to lessen the cost of medications. 

The clinic has received access to a federal program called 340B, a drug pricing program, which gives hospitals discounts on wholesale medication. After enrollment in the program, “covered entities are entitled to receive discounts on all eligible covered outpatient drugs,” according to the 340B webpage. 

In short, Leopold explained that the program allows the office to use its savings to provide more affordable medication to patients. The clinic also welcomes those with health insurance, those without insurance and those on Medicaid or Medicare. 

“The simpler we can make our processes for our patients, the better,” Royal said. 

There is also an opportunity for both Front Range Clinic and Mile High Behavioral Health, two medical providers established across the hall, to collaborate with the pharmacy.

For example, while Mile High Behavioral Health does not provide primary care, if one of their patients needs primary care, Summit Community Care Clinic may be able to help.

“We are one of the spokes in that hub,” Royal said. 

For the time being, the pharmacy is only available for patients of the Summit Community Care Clinic.

“To be transparent, this is new for us,” Royal said. “We’re starting low and ramping up, and we want to make sure we do it really well.”

In all, the project to open a pharmacy cost around $500,000, Royal reported. The cost was funded through grants and donors, along with some additional operating funds. 

“I think it’s a really positive step that Summit County’s been able to make to meet the needs in the community,” Royal said. 

The Summit Community Care Clinic is located in Suite 100 at 360 Peak One Drive in Frisco, and it is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

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