Wheaton resident Ray Kelly has seen his profession change radically in his nearly 40 years as a result of advances in technology and medicine. The career-long pharmacist at the Jewel-Osco on Main Street in Wheaton witnessed how his work eventually became more streamlined, and even more complex over the years.
"The changes in technology alone have been mind-boggling," Kelly said.
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This year, Osco Drug is marking its 75th anniversary of its pharmacy business while Kelly has been employed there for a majority of that time. He's also seen Osco become a part of the Jewel grocery stores and the changes that have come afterward.
Kelly joined Osco as an intern in 1967 and worked part time in various roles in the store and later in the pharmacy. After graduating with a pharmacy degree from Creighton University in 1971, he joined Osco full time as a pharmacist in Barrington for a year, and then transferred to a new store at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, where he worked for two years. That Woodfield store eventually closed. And by 1973, he moved to the Main Street Osco in Wheaton, where he has been ever since.
"I remember a St. Charles pharmacist who talked up the profession and that encouraged me to become a pharmacist," Kelly said.
When he started full-time, he did everything manually, from using a typewriter for labels on prescription bottles to record keeping. By the 1970s, they started a card system and kept a record of prescriptions. By the mid-1980s, they became computerized with everything in the pharmacy, such as labels, drug interactions, refill information among other data. That's when things changed very quickly, leading to faster service and faster production of filling prescriptions.
While patients initially paid for prescriptions and later got reimbursed from insurance companies, the opposite happened with computerization. Today, virtually every prescription is sent directly via a computer to insurance companies for reimbursement, Kelly said.
And over those years, more drugs came on the market for more diseases. More people came into the pharmacy. The volume kept growing, Kelly said.
"Diabetics had insulin back then, but now there's a ton of medications. We used to have maybe four or five antibiotics, and now there's a lot more," Kelly said.
While things were simpler and slower paced nearly 40 years ago, the rapid pace of new technology and medicine now provide more help for more people, he said.
"The new graduates today are using their educations and will be more hands on," Kelly said.
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