Setting An Innovative Example

As a pioneer and leader in the field of institutional pharmacy services, Ellen Yankellow, PharmD, feels a great responsibility to support the industry.

Ellen Yankellow, PharmDOne of the ways she demonstrates this strong commitment has been her ongoing support of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, from which she earned a BS in 1973 and a doctoral degree in 1996. She recently made a substantial gift to the School.

“I’m going to leave it up to Dean Eddington to decide how to use the funds,” Yankellow says, “because she is intimately familiar with the needs of the School. I have a lot of faith in the School’s leadership.”

Yankellow, who holds leadership positions in many civic and philanthropic organizations, also sits on the School’s Board of Visitors, where she serves as chair. “When you serve on the Board of Visitors, you get a good view of what is going on with research, practice, faculty development, and other programs,” she says. There is a lot of need, and funding can be hard to come by.”

Few appreciate the value of seed money to grow an enterprise more than Yankellow, who started Correct Rx Pharmacy Services in 2003 from scratch and built the company into a multi-state provider with 98 employees.

When she found herself without a job in 2003, she says, “I instantly decided to form my own company.” She and two partners borrowed $1 million and within eight weeks signed their first client.

Correct Rx was innovative in that it offered clinical pharmacy services as well as basic dispensing services. “We have been practicing clinical pharmacy before it was common practice,” Yankellow says. The company serves correctional institutions, juvenile facilities, assisted living centers, skilled nursing facilities, and other residential treatment communities.

The traditional institutional pharmacy model has been to pay a dispensing fee for the products, and not to cover the consulting services the pharmacist provides. But Correct Rx and Yankellow are trying to change that.

“Pharmacy really is about being able to manage medication therapy and outcomes,” Yankellow says. An institution with a pharmacist as part of the health care team will ultimately benefit from lower drug costs and a healthier population, but Yankellow says it has not always been easy to persuade procurement officers to make the initial investment.

“That is the future of pharmacy,” she says. With automation becoming more common, she says, “People are not going to pay a pharmacist just to put pills in a bottle.” Instead, the new model is for pharmacists to collaborate closely with physicians, who admittedly are limited in their knowledge of drugs. “Doctors welcome our expertise,” she says.

Yankellow praises the School of Pharmacy for remaining on the cutting edge of pharmacy trends and offering students the kind of training they need to stay qualified and competitive.

“I’m very proud to be associated with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The quality of students is exceptional, and the direction they are taking is right on,” Yankellow says. “They understand the importance of producing pharmacists who can stand side by side with practitioners and present sound therapeutic advice.”

There’s no doubt that Yankellow’s many contributions to the School have helped make this pursuit of excellence possible. “Leadership donations by our alumni are vital to sustaining the excellence of our programs,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD ’89, BSP, FAAPS, FCP, professor and dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Ellen has long supported the School in a significant way, and we thank her for her contributions. We also appreciate the innovative example she sets for the profession and for pharmacists across the country.”