COCHRAN, GEORGIA: As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread impacting the economy of the world, infecting lives, and taking lives, a lot of attention has been put on the people “on the front lines” fighting for us.
Of course, those people include who Mr. Rogers would call “helpers” – nurses, doctors, lab techs, respiratory therapists, paramedics, flight teams, fire fighters, emergency personnel, dispatchers, law enforcement, and yes, public health workers.
There is one group of ‘unsung heroes’ that haven’t been called out – and that would be pharmacists. Pharmacists are working overtime to make sure everyone is taken care of, the right medications go out, the right doses, and they are working a lot of long hours. They are good neighbors for sure.
In my small town, we have four pharmacies – two are locally owned and two are a part of a chain – but the people who work there are local. They have had to adjust hours and formats of service as well.
Watching the dedication that these pharmacists and their teams have to their customers, I couldn’t help but think of one of Cochran’s most beloved pharmacists. Or at least, he was my family’s favorite at that time.
Tommy Porter grew up in Bleckley County. He went to school here, and went on to college to become a pharmacist. He married Judy, and they had two sons. Mr. Tommy worked with Birch McVay at his downtown pharmacy, and later became a partner, and owner.
Most people in Bleckley County know of McVay-Porter Pharmacy and later Porter Pharmacy. Many generations got their prescriptions filled by Mr. Tommy – my grandma did, my parents did, my sister and I did.
Mr. Tommy was a strong advocate for keeping the people in our community well.
I remember watching him talk to customers, help them understand their medicines, the costs, and even watched him go to bat for people with insurance companies.
His smile was (still is) big, and his greeting from behind the high counter at the back of the store was always genuine. You may not have been able to see him when you walked in the store, but he saw you and made sure you knew that. I can’t count how many times I would hear him say, “Hey Beck! How are you?”
Tommy Porter was not your typical pharmacist. He could have shut the doors at 5, and not answered his phone when he got home. But that wasn’t Mr. Tommy.
If you had a problem, no matter the time, and he could help you, he was there. I remember one weekend when I had a botched root canal, and there was an infection and swelling in my teeth. Mr. Tommy opened up especially for us after hours to fill our prescription.
I grew up going to church with Mr. Tommy and Mrs. Judy, and even had the opportunity as a nursery worker and children’s Sunday School teacher, to care for their boys.
At church, Mr. Tommy and Mrs. Judy were involved in activities that involved their boys, and led in children’s times.
As a business owner, he was very giving to the town, showing purple and gold for the Bleckley County Royals, along with his red and black for the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
His character is one that can’t be copied – Mr. Tommy is just a nice man. He is respectful of everyone, and kindness is something he made sure his employees, and his sons, gave to all folks.
Now that he is retired, he and Mrs. Judy enjoy being grandparents, and serving in the church. In fact, the first time I had seen him in years was when we both were at the home of a church member who was home bound. He and Mrs. Judy had dinner plates in their hands from the church – still helping folks out.
First thing he said was, “Beck, how are you?” The tone was still warm and very real.
Only thing missing was his pharmacy coat.
Thank your pharmacy team today for what they do to keep you well!
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