NACDS’ in-person conference kicks off with a focus on pharmacies’ role during COVID-19 pandemic

During the first of the three-day 2022 Regional Chain Conference, speakers highlighted the resiliency and adaptability of the organization’s chain and supplier members.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ 2022 Regional Chain Conference returned to an in-person format and starting with the first day of the conference on Jan. 24, the energy and enthusiasm were on full display.

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said, “The NACDS membership brought their usual high energy and strong engagement to the 2022 NACDS Regional Chain Conference – and it was magnified by the true appreciation of being back together again, in-person. The conversations, introductions and idea-sharing that can be seen in the hallways and meeting rooms remind us of the unique value of meeting in person as an industry. The engagement of NACDS members is truly appreciated and we look forward to the entire 2022 calendar of NACDS events.”

Dubbed “Over and Above,” the event is bringing together industry leaders nationwide to connect, collaborate and discuss the future of the industry.

Taking place from Jan. 23 to 25, the conference centers on the resiliency and adaptability of the organization’s chain and supplier members; their ongoing and vital contributions to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic; and the imminent health and wellness revolution that will define the future of NACDS, its members and a united industry.

[Read more: NACDS receives ASAE's 2021 Power of A Gold award]

Wendy Boynton, director of pharmacy operations for Hannaford Bros. and the 2022 Regional Chain Conference chair
Wendy Boynton, director of pharmacy operations for Hannaford and the 2022 Regional Chain Conference chair

In opening remarks, Wendy Boynton, director of pharmacy operations for Hannaford and the 2022 Regional Chain Conference chair, discussed accomplishments over the last two years within the industry and profession. 

“Pharmacy has been recognized as being part of the solution. We continued to change and evolve to get where we are today and we will continue to be quick to adapt to get where we want to go in the future,” Boynton said. 

She also detailed various ways that retailers and suppliers boldly innovated during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the critical needs of both patients and consumers were met. 

“We provided alternative solutions for patients to obtain their prescriptions — offering drive thru, curbside pickup and home delivery. We set up mass clinics — getting vaccines to arms,” Boynton said. “We leveraged great partnerships with our suppliers, and we should all be really proud of all the things that we have done up to this point: representing our profession and sewing our communities.”

[Read More: NACDS issues statement regarding OTC COVID-19 tests at retail pharmacies]

Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, Kroger and NACDS chair, echoed Boynton’s thoughts, recognizing the expertise, innovation and commitment of the NACDS regional chain members, and noting the importance of continued retailer-supplier engagement. 

NACDS President & CEO Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM; NACDS Vice Chair Brian Nightengale, president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy; and NACDS Chair Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, The Kroger Co.
From left to right, NACDS president and CEO Steven C. Anderson; FASAE, CAE, IOM; NACDS vice chair Brian Nightengale president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy; and NACDS Chair Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, Kroger.

“I want to express appreciation for NACDS suppliers — who changed operations and helped retailers deliver for patients and consumers. Together, we were a solution for our country,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, Kroger and NACDS chair. 

Anderson emphasized the “power of association,” noting that the relationships built at NACDS meetings and conferences through the years have figured significantly in navigating the pandemic and in serving Americans. 

“Think[ing] back to the weeks immediately following the 2020 Regional Chain Conference, and all the uncertainty and all the developments, one thing stands out in my mind: NACDS kept focused as an organization,” Anderson said. “NACDS is the membership — the collective and collaborative will of our members. And by uniting the industry, we can accomplish so much together. So, when COVID reached our shores in the U.S., and when it became more apparent what we were dealing with, the NACDS Board put together a plan with these objectives: contributing to the health and well-being of the public, of members’ staff, and of NACDS staff; delivering value to NACDS members; living up to the industry’s reputation for professionalism, trust and accessibility; and continuing to advance NACDS’ mission vigorously.”

[Reda More: NACDS highlights members’ role during COVID-19 pandemic in U.S. Chamber of Commerce report]

Lindholz also described pharmacies’ successes on behalf of the American people, and the “push” that must continue to empower NACDS members’ COVID-19 response and to protect patient health, patients’ access to pharmacies and pharmacies viability — beyond the pandemic. 

Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, The Kroger Co., and NACDS chair

“What if in a year or two the stat ‘there’s a pharmacy within five miles of 90% of Americans’ were no longer the case? What if in two years, the government were to roll back preparedness and pharmacy teams were to lose opportunities to vaccinate and test to the degree they’ve been able to during the pandemic?” Lindholz said. 

In a leadership panel discussion, Brian Nightengale, president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy and NACDS vice chair, joined Lindholz and Anderson to talk about these pressing issues that remain crucial for pharmacy value and viability — including DIR fee reform, broader reimbursement issues, opioid-abuse prevention and the need to make permanent and expand the scope of practice and other preparedness measures achieved on a temporary basis during COVID — and the intense focus that NACDS will continue to place on these issues.

The panel discussion also centered on lessons learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; bold innovations to meet changing consumer demands and mindsets; and the acceleration of self-care, telehealth, multidisciplinary health and wellness and omnichannel, among other topics. 

[Read More: NACDS Foundation, UNC team up to support innovative care models]

“We’re in the community and we’re where people are. They know us. They trust us. Now is the time to revolutionize the industry – to move quickly, to innovate boldly, and to provide total health and wellness solutions that empower consumers,” Lindholz said. 

NACDS President & CEO Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM
NACDS president and CEO Steven C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, IOM

In addition, Lindholz and Anderson underscored not only the passion and purpose that the NACDS membership — united through the “glue” that is NACDS — continues to bring to the COVID-19 crisis, but they also focused on the vibrant future in store for an evolving industry:

“NACDS has always been the glue that’s keeping this industry together. I think that summarizes everything you’ve done and continue to do. We’ve done it here, and we’ll do it at the NACDS Annual Meeting in April and at the NACDS Total Store Expo in August,” Anderson said.

A principal feature of the 2022 conference is the productive, One-to-One Business Conferences — a popular aspect of the schedule that fosters collaboration among NACDS chain and associate members and which sets the standard for NACDS meetings and conferences.

[Read More: NACDS, HPP report highlights role pharmacies play during health emergencies]

More information about the 2022 Conference program — with compelling speakers on topics relevant to the entire store — is available on the event’s website.

NACDS also urges member company representatives to register now for the 2022 NACDS Annual Meeting, to be held from April 23 to 26 in Palm Beach, Fla., and the 2022 NACDS Total Store Expo, to be held from Aug. 27 to 29 in Boston, Mass.

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