Asthenis: A west side pharmacy built on health equity

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Guest Contributor: Dr. Eugenio Fernandez Jr.

While pursuing four majors at University of Rhode Island, Dr. Eugenio Fernandez Jr. got an idea. Why not take an integrative approach to bringing health care to his home community on the west side by creating a new kind of pharmacy, one without the candy and junk food aisles, that focuses solely on the patient. And why not take health care out of the bounds and control of prescriptions and medical diagnoses and into the community by educating some of our most vulnerable populations. That’s how Asthenis, the only pharmacy in WBNA’s focus area and the only independent pharmacy for miles around, was born.

Asthenis is a pharmacy built on the values of health equity. WBNA invites you to learn more about this socially-conscious new business in our neighborhood, and to choose local when you fill your next prescriptions.


A strong community is also a healthy community. Picking up your medications at your local pharmacy, Asthenis, shows your support for building a stronger community by investing in our neighborhood’s promotion of health equity through education. 

My name is Eugenio Fernandez Jr., PharmD, MBA, MPH. I grew up nearby on Hanover Street and attended Asa Messer Annex and Elementary, Bridgham Middle School, Classical High School, University of RI for undergraduate, and Harvard University for graduate school. I am the owner and inventor of our new type of neighborhood pharmacy called Asthenis, located at 206 Cranston Street in Providence (on the same side of the strip mall as our local police substation). 

While studying population health at Harvard I realized a common ambience among health care organizations – an unintended propensity to emphasize administration over the people. It was during this juncture of time that I realized that if I didn’t become an entrepreneur then I felt like I would become part of the problem. So I deferred my post-graduate offer from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and chose to design and build a new type of pharmacy: Asthenis. 

The goal with Asthenis is to help make our community stronger by using health education to close health equity gaps between social classes. I’m here to explain why it’s important to you, and to our community, to support our new local pharmacy. 

As a new type of pharmacy, Asthenis is able to offer ancillary services to our community by organizing activities that will improve the health of our neighbors. 

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Let’s take a step back and visit a scenario that describes [to English-speakers] what many of our low-income Spanish speaking neighbors experience at each doctor checkup.

INT. DAY – TODAY IS YOUR BIG ANNUAL CHECKUP 

You’re standing in the patient exam room at your doctor’s office. The medical assistant checks your vitals and gives you a brief survey, your GP walks in and begins writing a prescription. 

YOU 

Good morning Dr. Kermit. How did my lab results check out? 

YOUR DOCTOR 

“Ok, segun la indicacions de tu medicamento necesitas tomar este medicamento cada noche antes de acostarse. No puedes tomar jugo de uva porque puede acelerad efectos secundarios y si sientes dolor en los músculos necesitas de omitir tomando el medicamento inmediatamente y llamar tu doctor”. 

Your 15 minutes are up, she hands you your new prescription and has to move onto to the next room. 

YOU 

What? 

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CUT TO BLACK

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Your doctor would like to spend more time with you, but your insurance plan does not allow for this. Most of us that speak English as a first language don’t have to deal with a language barrier when speaking with our providers, however we still feel rushed by insurance carriers to diagnose, explain and finish our checkup within 15 minutes. Having to deal with a language barrier, as well as trying to understand complex medical vernacular in a rushed session, is a twofold reality blow that our local Spanish speaking neighbors deal with during each visit. 

Asthenis directly addresses our community’s healthcare communication gap by teaming up with local senior centers and low-income housing units to organize bilingual activities. For example, many seniors are at greater risk of an adverse event following an unexpected fall than non-seniors. To help build health equity in our senior population, an effective strategy is to prepare and deliver presentations in Spanish at Wiggins Village Complex and in English at St. Martin Depores Senior Center that will help educate our audience about situations that can make day-to-day objects (i.e. oxygen tank cords and throw rugs) a high risk for having a fall. 

This type of organized activity and others of similar interest will be made available to local folks in our community from all backgrounds – and at no cost

What you can do to support this concept is pick-up your prescription medications locally at Asthenis Pharmacy.* We accept most insurance plans including Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI, Medicare, United Healthcare Plan of Rhode Island, and many other commercial plans. 

Let’s make our community stronger! Stop by Asthenis at 206 Cranston Street or call 401-473-3958. Open Monday through Friday, 8am-7pm. Follow us on Facebook and check us out at www.AsthenisUSA.com.

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* When you pick-up your medication at Asthenis, your copay would still be the same as if you were going to any other pharmacy. The only time your copay differs between pharmacies is if your insurance plan has you participating in a preferred network. If you don’t know if you are in a preferred network, then it is very likely that you are not in a preferred network.