Owensboro Family Pharmacy & Wellness, 720 W. Byers Ave., may well be the pharmacy of the future.
Sure, it fills prescriptions, has over-the-counter medication and a University of Kentucky gift shop.
But Jesica Thomason Mills, the pharmacist-owner, is also a doctor of naturopathy.
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians says they diagnose, prevent and treat acute and chronic illness “to restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person's inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness and develop personalized treatment plans to address them.”
“Your immune system is fantastic if you give it what it needs,” Mills said.
She also operates a clinic in the pharmacy.
“I can run a flu swab, diagnose the flu and dispense Tamiflu without you having to see a physician,” Mills said. “I can run tests for strep, diabetes and other things.”
That's because of recent changes in state law, allowing pharmacies to provide more health care.
Mills said she had to find a physician or nurse practitioner to sign for her to do those things.
“Twenty physicians in this town turned me down,” she said. “But I found a nurse practitioner in Louisville who signed for me. It's hard to be an independent pharmacy these days.”
Mills said, “90 percent of the flu and strep tests that have been positive here are from kids. There's a lot going around.”
She's also a major retailer of CBD oil — a non-intoxicating extract from hemp plants.
Few major studies have been done on its benefits, according to WebMD.com.
But proponents swear by it.
Mills' father, Don Thomason, has had several bouts with testicular cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare illness with a bleak prognosis.
“It came back in 2016,” she said. “He was told he had less than a year to live. I started researching alternative medicine including CBD oil. He's 82 now and still doing good.”
So Mills started stocking CBD oil in the pharmacy and teaches people how to use it as well as health supplements.
“It costs $50 to $80,” she said. “It's so expensive, I didn't expect to sell much. But we sold out in four or five days. Now, we're selling $16,000 worth a month.”
Mills grew up in a pharmacy.
Her parents, Don and Daisy Thomason, bought a Medicine Shoppe franchise and opened the pharmacy at 1213 Frederica St. in 1985.
Twenty years later, they decided to open an independent pharmacy, Don & Daisy's, on Byers Avenue.
Mills finished school and returned to the family pharmacy as a pharmacist in 2014.
Two years later, she and her husband, Danny, bought it from her parents and changed the name.
“I was in the pharmacy for the first time when I was 3 days old,” Mills said. “When I was 3, I was taking out the trash. I worked after school, did my homework and worked behind the counter. When a 9-year-old hands you your prescription, you might wonder about it.”
“It's been real fun,” she said.
There was a soda shop in the pharmacy when it first opened.
But Owensboro wasn't ready for that, Mills said.
So, it became a UK gift shop.
“My parents are big UK fans,” Mills said. “I was at Commonwealth — I refuse to call it Kroger Field — Stadium before I knew how to eat peanuts.”
She found that most people are buying their UK gifts online.
So, Mills is now selling her gifts on Amazon as well as in the store.
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These days, she also teaching e-courses online on such things as how to use supplements and doing an occasional lecture.
And, if that's not enough, Mills also has two children — ages 1 and 2.
“When my parents started, it was just them,” she said. “Now, we have 15 employees.”
Mills said she needs more parking among other things.
“We've thought about expanding,” she said. “But we want to maximize this location first.”
Last month, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce awarded Owensboro Family Pharmacy & Wellness its emerging business of the year award.
“It was a surprise,” Mills said. “I thought CYO Brewing would win it. How can you compete with a bar for votes?”
She said, “Our business has grown 35 times in two years. More than 1,480 people have transferred (their prescriptions) in. We're growing at a rate of 35 percent a year.”