Taking Care of East Tennessee
Several harrowing days in 2013 remain seared into pharmacist Mike Wilhoit’s memory. On a seemingly typical day, a car accident suddenly propelled a vehicle through the main Knoxville location of Mac’s Pharmacy, all the way to the back Rx counter, and “took out everything.” Three days later, Wilhoit’s father, Mac—not only his dad but a beloved mentor and friend—suffered a heart attack that sidelined him for several months.
Wilhoit had been running his own pharmacy location for several years, but that trying time “put the business fully on my shoulders,” he recalls. “It was a distinct moment when things changed for me as a leader. I had to apply the confidence and knowledge not only to be a pharmacist, but to be a business owner and run it successfully.”
Today, Wilhoit remains president of the thriving, family-owned pharmacies his father founded three decades ago, which have expanded throughout the Knoxville and beyond.
The lessons Wilhoit has learned—and the partnership of his family, including his still-active dad, and a “fantastic team” of employees—have propelled Mac’s to a number of Best of the Best honors that reflect “the consistency of serving our patients, day in and day out, for 30 years, and earning their trust.”
“We work hard to get to know all of our patients who come through the door, call them by name, and make sure they know we care about them,” Wilhoit says. “It’s true that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
While remaining a trusted hometown pharmacy, Mac’s has adapted to changing customer needs. Its specialized services include the Medication Synchronization Program, which provides regular teaching, coaching, and outreach to patients to see that their medications are taken properly. “It has made a huge difference for our patients and their health,” Wilhoit says. Roughly half of Mac’s patients take part, and the number is growing.
Another example is Mac’s Packs, a medication-packaging program that organizes medications by dose and by day, so that “patients going to work or school can just tear off what they need and go. It takes simplicity to the next level. You don’t have to think about whether you’ve taken your meds, because they are packaged and dated for you.”
Mac’s also continues to grow to serve more patients. A new location is set to open off Cedar Bluff Road in west Knoxville in early 2022. In addition to its East Tennessee retail operations, Mac’s operates a long-term care pharmacy that serves nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and more. The long-term care pharmacy started in Knoxville and has expanded with locations in Atlanta, Nashville, and Florida.
Reflecting on the legacy he is helping to carry on, Wilhoit recalls his father’s caring boldness decades ago. “He had worked for chains, and he had a heart for starting a hometown, independent pharmacy. He saw an opportunity to do things a little differently and be highly patient-care focused.”
Mac himself continues to work, putting the passion for service he has held over forty-plus years into practice. “He loves to see his friends and patients—he calls them ‘my people’—and make sure they are doing well,” Wilhoit says.
Of all the cherished aspects of leading a trusted family business into the future, that might be the sweetest.
(865) 524-3453 2419 Washington Pike Knoxville, Tennessee 37917 www.macspharmacy.com