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In Other Words


A new service launched by Winn-Dixie enables its pharmacists to hold crucial conversations with customers—regardless of what language they speak.

A major part of providing effective care to pharmacy customers is communication—making sure people understand what their medications do and how to take them correctly. But communication between a pharmacist and a customer is severely hampered when they don’t share a common language.

Winn-Dixie has admirably developed a way to circumvent this challenge however, with the recent rollout of WD RxConnect Translate, a translation service now available in 62 in-store pharmacies across the Jacksonville, Fla.-based grocer’s southeastern store base.

The latest feature of the company’s WD RxConnect program is a centralized prescription record system that links all Winn-Dixie and SaveRite pharmacies together. The free service provides a special two-line telephone that enables the pharmacist and customer to speak to each other with the help of an interpreter, who can be contacted in a matter of seconds.

Once the customer selects his or her preferred language, the pharmacist phones an interpreter who conveys questions and concerns in a three-way call. The service is available in a staggering 100-plus languages, among them Arabic, Armenian, Cantonese (Chinese), French, German, Hindi, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Laotian, Mandarin (Chinese), Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese.

“Winn-Dixie pharmacies are committed to meeting the unique needs of all our customers,” notes Winn-Dixie’s VP of Pharmacy John Fegan. Launched in late April, WD RxConnect Translate helps the grocer’s “pharmacists seamlessly communicate with people who otherwise might struggle to be understood or to understand information that is important to their health,” Fegan explains.

The grocer identified the 62 Winn-Dixie pharmacies now featuring the service through an in-depth analysis to determine need. Pharmacists at the participating stores display a counter card that introduces WD RxConnect Translate to customers when direct communication with a pharmacist is difficult.

In addition to communications in Spanish, which might be expected in some areas of Florida, Fegan told Florida Today that so far there had also been requests for Vietnamese, Korean, Hindi, Mandarin and Arabic translations. Besides the Sunshine State, Winn-Dixie operates stores in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Cheryl Glemser, the pharmacist at Winn-Dixie’s Port St. John, Fla., location, said in the publication’s article that she expected use of the service to pick up when international cruise ship workers and tourists are in town.

“We get a fair amount of tourist traffic, and they come in for things like sunburns, and sometimes, the interaction can be very different,” explained Glemser. “In a foreign country, you have no clue.

“Our skills as pharmacists lie in the ability to help people make choices, and you have to know what other medications they’re on, and help them watch for side effects,” she added. “Even when you’re trying to communicate with English-speaking people, sometimes it’s hard to get the point across, and I feel like our value is diminished tremendously when we can’t do that.”

According to Fegan, Winn-Dixie plans to offer the service in more stores where there’s a need for it, as it attracts customers and results in bigger basket rings. “We can continue to add to our community, and that obviously benefits the front end,” he noted in the Florida Today article. “If someone comes in and gets a prescription filled, they may pick up a candy bar or a half-gallon of milk. And it just helps us competitively.”

Winn-Dixie worked with Language Line Services, a national interpreting service company based in Monterey, Calif., to launch the initiative.

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