During the Thursday, July 25, ribbon-cutting events at their new locations in Pine River and Pequot Lakes, Essentia Health representatives said they anticipate the introduction of the former Lakes Area Pharmacy locations into the Essentia Health network will result in improved convenience and care for customers.

Among other advantages of joining the Essentia Health network is the integration of accessible medical records between doctors and pharmacists for those patients who depend on Essentia Health for both.

“I think one of the biggest differences will be that our patients will all be on the same electronic health record,” said Essentia Health Vice President of Operations Bill Palmer. “So our pharmacy team has access to patient electronic health records. That will be an advantage for patients for a number of reasons, just in terms of making sure they are on the right medications and they are not duplicated prescriptions.”

Representatives expect the transition to particularly benefit those with chronic illnesses.

“We do some specific activities to help support work that the providers at the clinic do for chronic disease like hypertension or diabetes,” said Senior Director of Pharmacy Services Dianne Witten.

In other locations, Essentia Health's management of pharmacies has had measurable impacts on local care.

“The other thing we know is that the pharmacies we own and run, we actually have higher clinical quality scores around our chronic illnesses,” said Adam Rees, president of Essentia Health's central market. “They are more under control. I have to think we'll probably see some benefit in this pharmacy as well.”

Essentia Health officially purchased the Lakes Are Pharmacies in both Pine River and Pequot Lakes on June 29. The businesses reopened as Essentia Health pharmacies shortly after, on July 1.

The ribbon cutting comes almost exactly 25 years after Dave Parry opened his pharmacy location on Barclay Avenue in Pine River, according to Pine River Journal archives.