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HOLMBERG: Church Hill pharmacy to close after almost seven decades

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Dr. Leonard Levi Edloe, known throughout the area as “Doc,” will close his family pharmacy on N. 25th Street in Church Hill next Tuesday afternoon.

His father bought the business 67 years ago. They moved it to its current location from a little more than a block away 38 years ago, not long after Leonard joined his father.

“It’s something I wanted to do since I was in the third grade,” he says. “My father even got me a little white coat I used to walk around in the pharmacy.”

Doc is likely the Richmond area’s best-known pharmacist.  He has his own radio show, a long-list of prestigious awards and board appointments and a passion for getting people to really understand the drugs they’re taking.

He has a doctorate in pharmacy and takes his branch of medicine very seriously.

So why is he closing up shop now?

“I’m 65, number one,” he explained. “I have a terrible history of cardiovascular disease in my family.” His sister died of a heart attack, his brother at 54. He’s had his own scares.

“I probably fill 400 prescriptions a day,” Doc said. “And because I service a population that is largely Medicare and Medicaid, if I get a $1.50 for each prescription, I’m doing good.”

And consider that they deliver, all over, in all kinds of weather.

Doc has a new church he’s  pastoring on the Northern Neck, and lots of board work to do that will let him continue helping people. He has sold the business pharmacy license to a big chain.

He says the business has  changed, along with the way we do medicine, with a focus on medication instead of diet, exercise and stopping the behaviors that often cause illness.

“It hurts me when a person comes in with a bag for 12 prescriptions because there’s no way in the world he’ll ever get well . . . Because most people now don’t understand why they are sick. And we’re taking all of this medicine, don’t know why we’re taking it, taking more and more. And to me, down the road, this is going to catch up with us. We’re going to have a whole lot of diseases because of all this medicine we’re taking and nobody is taking the time to talk to anybody about it.”

“That’s what I love to do,” he added. 

He says Medicare part D has helped strangle small, family owned businesses like his that help poorer people, because of the way insurers pay for medicine.

“They give it to PBMs, Pharmacy Benefit Management companies, they take all the profit, and so, you get squeezed.”

And he says the so-called  Obamacare will likely spread the problem, the inefficiency, to a wider population.

Customers can’t believe Edloe’s is closing.

“Where am I going to go?” asks regular customer Delores Edwards. “Total shock. I can’t believe it. It’s a great pharmacy. Everybody knows everyone.”

Kim Hamilton started working there part time while she was in high school in 1985.

She’s learned the whole business, top to bottom.

She says she broke down and cried when she heard the business was closing. “I know there are a lot of people who depend on this man,” Hamilton says. “This is going to be a big loss for the community.”

Yes, Doc says, it hurts to walk away from the business, from all those people who walked through those doors for all those years.

“People in the community have been so good to our family,” Doc says. “And that’s what this has all been about. You’re a person when you come in here.”



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