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Culture-Focused Pharmacy Startup Secures $1M to Fight Health Inequity in Missouri

Culture-Focused Pharmacy Startup Secures $1M to Fight Health Inequity in Missouri

Photo by Wiley Price of the St. Louis American

Marcus Howard, founder of GreaterHealth Pharmacy & Wellness, is outside his first location at the Delmar Divine that will open Summer of 2022. Photo by Wiley Price of the St. Louis American.

St. Louis, MO-- Culture-focused pharmacy startup, GreaterHealth Pharmacy & Wellness, has an unique model for healthcare delivery that aims to improve health outcomes in St. Louis for communities of color. Their model focuses on trust, technology, and culturally competent care. The company secured its startup capital from community organizations and local community members, and will open its first location in the new Delmar Divine building in Summer 2022. 

“We hope that this model scales across St. Louis.” says GreaterHealth founder Marcus Howard. After moving away to pursue his Ph.D., Howard, who grew up on St. Louis’ north side, always knew he wanted to return home. But he wanted a comeback with purpose and now he has it: launching a pharmacy startup to provide culturally competent health care to communities of color in St. Louis. 

During the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, Howard started a GofundMe campaign with a target of raising $600,000. Though the campaign only raised $8,000, it was the start of a grassroots movement that got the attention of local leaders, who would help to bring the vision into reality and help the startup surpass its initial fundraising goal. One of those leaders was Build-a-Bear Founder and St. Louis Resident, Maxine Clark. Clark explains “Pharmacies aren’t a new invention (just like teddy bears weren’t new) but one that brings us back to the roots of locally owned and consumer centric is exciting.” Clark was one of the startup’s first investors and worked with Howard to secure a space for GreaterHealth in her new Delmar Divine project. “We are proud to be his first location!” exclaims Clark. Among other partners is the Missouri Foundation for Health who has become a critical partner in bringing the vision to life. 

African Americans in St. Louis and other parts of the U.S. are disproportionately affected by health challenges such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and infectious diseases.These issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and, again, minority communities have been disproportionately affected and devastated. Research suggests that the key to improving health outcomes for communities of color is to provide culturally competent healthcare experiences. 

GreaterHealth is introducing a new culturally competent healthcare communication model that takes into account a community’s demographic variables, psychological characteristics, health motivations, and cultural behavior. This data will allow GreaterHealth to offer responsive services that will shape actions that lead to healthier behaviors.In addition, the startup will offer quality drug products, healthcare supplies and equipment, drug therapy and counseling, and other services to meet the needs of the St. Louis community. 

“[At a chain pharmacy], you walk up, you get your medicine, and you walk away. For communities of color, that’s not enough", says Howard. "This is a critical development as communities of color around the U.S. are in need of healthcare providers that offer both quality care and a deeper understanding of their culture," Howard adds. As St. Louis continues to respond to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, GreaterHealth may be a fitting partner to ensure all St. Louis residents have access to quality healthcare.

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