Nine years ago Maria Young built out retail space in the Towers Residential Suites and used an interest in pharmacy to start the independent small business University Pharmacy. On Thursday, September 7, Young said she signed a contract that would have her and her small business off the campus by August 2018. Now, Young said she just wants more time.
“University Pharmacy isn’t your typical pharmacy, we don’t just push around pills. My goal was to meet the patient, understand what they went to the doctor for and explore the idea that they need to make other changes in their life to go along with the prescriptions,” Young said. “I wanted a lot more the ‘come by pick it up and see you next month.’”
With the Anthony Wayne Apartments under construction Young said the university’s next offer was suggesting she again build out space across the street.
Student Senate member Jack Mullen also said that filling prescriptions was something valuable to campus stating “University Pharmacy will remain open through the end of this academic year and there will be a pharmacy installed in the new dorms upon opening” but Mullen also noted “University Pharmacy is not guaranteed the position at the new location.”
Since opening its doors in 2008 Young said her small business has always been at the forefront of promoting healthy living in other key areas. Young said she holds regular educational meetings with patients and the public about diabetes, hypertension and healthy habits while also providing immunizations and screenings to staff, students and Detroiters.
This spring Young said she received a phone call from the university that stated her lease at 5254 Anthony Wayne Drive would not be renewed.
“I offered a lot to the university and the only two things they could tell about why they couldn’t renew my lease were that I have a poor business model and that the campus does not need a pharmacy ‘they can get prescriptions anywhere,’” said Young.
Liza Polaskey, a longtime patron of University Pharmacy and who lives in midtown, said she was shocked to learn that after two years of working with Young, the pharmacy is slated to close.
“When I first moved to the neighborhood and I would take my script [prescription] to local pharmacies, most of them did not fill them regularly and University Pharmacy was the only pharmacy I was able to find who would order it for me and has consistently provided every month for two years,” said Polaskey.
Polaskey said she blames new development for putting the campus pharmacy in “limbo.”
“I think a lot of the development that’s been going on has been perhaps for moneymaking and not for actual community needs, I think a pharmacy is at the top of the list for not only campus needs but community needs,” Polaskey said.
Associate Vice President for Business & Auxiliary Operations, Timothy Michael, who has worked in conjunction with the student senate said he could not speak on the future of any campus retailers but that “the University in conjunction with Student Senate believes having a pharmacy on campus is important to the campus community and we are committed to meeting that need.”
Since signing the agreement with the university to leave in August of 2018 Young said she wants to explore how she can stay on campus longer and continues to share petitions and a GoFundMe campaign on Facebook. She said she is most effected by the outcry of support for her career on campus from students, staff and people who use her pharmacy.
“I’m humbled, I’ve always wondered what I did to student’s or if I made an impact on somebody as their pharmacist and I’m very humbled in the fact that they enjoyed my practice and I gave them an opportunity to learn what they weren’t learning anywhere else,” said Young.