CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the first time in her 32 years as a Rite Aid pharmacist, Harriet Nottingham will be able to give immunizations in a private consultation room.
When a Rite Aid patient used to visit the pharmacy to receive a vaccination, Nottingham would administer the shot out in the open. The patient sat in a chair next to the pharmacy, while other people stood in line to pick up a prescription or drop off a refill.
Now, Nottingham can take the patient to a private room that's designed for giving immunizations, answering personal health questions and offering more patient privacy.
The Rite Aid on Bridge Road in Charleston is the latest store to convert to a wellness store. The new concept, which Rite Aid started rolling out last year, puts an emphasis on the healthy lifestyle of its customers, said company spokesman Eric Harkreader.
Rite Aid's wellness stores also have healthier food options like organic and gluten-free products and more advanced clinical services from the pharmacy, Harkreader said. The store also expanded its caregiver section. It now sells walkers and other medical-supply store items.
The wellness stores "empower our customers to make healthy decisions and gives our customers more tools to be able to keep their health up," he said.
There are 570 Rite Aid wellness stores nationwide. The Rite Aid on Charleston's West Side, in Kanawha City and in South Charleston are now wellness stores, too.
Nottingham is happy to offer confidentiality to her patients, especially at the pharmacy. Since renovations at the Bridge Road Rite Aid are not finished yet, Nottingham said she hasn't used the private consultation room, but she can't wait.
"I have a room I can come to and it feels more comfortable for the patient," she said while standing in the small room with a table and four chairs. "This room is our biggest advantage. Patients will feel freer to ask questions and they won't infect anyone else if they are sick."
The pharmacy now has separate drop-off and pick-up windows for convenience, she said.
Throughout the Bridge Road drugstore, the shelves have been lowered to offer a clear view to the pharmacy, Harkreader said. Most wellness stores, with the exception of the Bridge Road store, which still has carpet -- feature new hardwood floors that lead directly back to the pharmacy, Harkreader said.
The new look resembles a traditional health-care setting that customers are used to, he said.