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Dan Apelian on the Front Line of the HIV Fight

9/12/2012

If you drive past the building at the corner of Green and Plymouth streets in Worcester,  Mass. and don’t think very much of it, you’re forgiven. You probably would have no idea that you would find Daniel Apelian PharmD ’05 serving thousands of patients at Allcare Pharmacy.

Apelian opened Allcare in October 2008 as an independent, full-service, retail pharmacy specializing in HIV/AIDS and  other specialty medications for Hepatitis C and other chronic illnesses. Located on the property of AIDS Project Worcester (APW), Allcare combines the medicationmanagement policy of long-term care facilities with closed-door  pharmacy and extensive mailorder services. It is the only such pharmacy in central Massachusetts.

How did a pharmacist working for a retail chain wind up opening this one-of-a-kind business in Worcester?

Apelian traces the idea for Allcare back to the time at which he  served an MCPHS clinical rotation at the Boston Living Center, New  England’s largest community and resource center for people living with HIV/AIDS. That experience  left him feeling that he “needed  to do something more.” After meeting with APW’s board and administration, Apelian decided  that he had found his niche, and he relocated with his wife to Worcester.

“My passion has always been to help people; and I’ve always been entrepreneurial,” Apelian says. Allcare is an overstaffed “old fashioned pharmacy” focused on patient counseling, says Apelian. “The infectious disease community requires attention to detail and understanding patients’ needs and cares.” Allcare works closely with APW. In fact, Apelian notes that “every new employee begins by learning APW’s services.”

The strategic location of Allcare and APW guarantees patient privacy and HIV/AIDS prescription medication availability. Every morning, pharmacists review reports for patients who may also visit APW for weekly case management, food  assistance and other services. “Many  patients have diabetes, hypertension and/or depression. We encourage pharmacists to counsel patients about

their whole health. That leads to better care.”

“There isn’t one patient we don’t know by first name. Some people have been utilizing Allcare

since day one,” Apelian says proudly. “We advocate for all of our patients.” Allcare advocacy extends to community activities including participation on the World AIDS Day  committee and hosting brown bag lunch discussions. Apelian is involved in Worcester’s infectious disease  health care community, and is vice president of the APW board.

Every day at Allcare is a veritable MCPHS Reunion. Aren Leighton BSPMM ’08, is the Business Manager, and husband John Leighton PharmD  ’10 manages operations. Allcare’s fulltime pharmacists are MCPHS alumni.

Last October Allcare moved into new accommodations, more than doubling the retail pharmacy, with additional space for mail-order and adherence services. “We built as close to a perfect pharmacy as possible,” Apelian says. With an option to lease more space, the sky is the limit, including the potential for MCPHS student clinical rotations.

But all growth must be manageable. “We worked hard to make sure  patients were comfortable with the new space, Apelian says. “We can’t forget our roots.”