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Editor’s Note: The event described below went on to make possible the screening of approximately 170 patients for skin cancer – the highest number of screenings in the nearly 20-year history of the event. 

Experts emphasize the importance of catching melanoma early, and NACDS-member Lewis Drug on Monday, May 7, 2018, will help patients do that, and more.

As part of a far-reaching partnership, a Lewis Drug location in Sioux Falls will host free skin cancer screenings through a program called “Melanoma Monday.” The program coincides with May’s designation as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and the screenings traditionally are offered on the first Monday in May.

Fourteen dermatologists – as well as nurses and other staff – from three clinics will volunteer their services. Last year, 142 screenings were provided. Throughout the nearly 20-year history of the event, it has led to the detection of numerous melanomas – helping patients become aware of the need for swift treatment – and also has offered referrals for many other cases of skin cancer.

“Ironically, the dermatologists thank us for hosting them; we couldn’t do it without them.”  

“Lewis has a company history of giving back to our community, for 75 years,” says Mark Griffin, Lewis Drug’s president and chief executive officer and a past chairman and current Board member of NACDS. “This is another example of our public service, and it is a win-win for everyone.”

Everyone at Lewis Drug is quick to point out the collaborative aspect of the program. Participating clinics involve Sanford Health, Avera Medical Group, and Dakota Dermatology.

“Ironically, the dermatologists thank us for hosting them; we couldn’t do it without them,” notes Bill Ladwig, senior vice president, professional services, who takes the lead on the program for Lewis Drug.

Ladwig points out the extensive nature of the collaboration that makes Melanoma Monday so successful for patients, which he describes as a “perfect storm of people willing to partner.” He notes the unique quality of three competing dermatology clinics gathering together on one day to make the event possible. Other examples of collaboration include the offering of sunscreen education by representatives of the American Cancer Society, and the work of the local CBS affiliate to inform viewers of the program.

For pharmacies interested in putting together a similar initiative, putting together the team of collaborators is essential, Ladwig advises. Given that the intent of the program is to make services available to those who are having difficulty obtaining them, Ladwig also notes the importance of a well-crafted effort to raise awareness of the appointment-scheduling process. The event is primarily targeted to individuals not currently seeing a dermatologist, and who have not had a screening in the past year.

Ladwig also describes the extensive effort of team members in helping to transform the store to accommodate the screenings. Many of the store’s “front-end” offerings, including grills and furniture, need to be removed for the day to accommodate the set-up of the screening area.

“Everyone comes in highly motivated to make it successful,” Ladwig says. “The intent is perfect, and the delivery is incredible.”

“When the event is done, we always say ‘Wow – we’re glad we did that.’ You sleep better that night,” Ladwig says.

Thanks to Lewis Drug and their collaborators, patients receive the chance to sleep better as well, whether it is through a clean bill of health, or the knowledge that they have caught a problem early.

For more information about the community engagement of NACDS chain members, please visit community.NACDS.org.