As Volare Health prepared to acquire a portfolio of skilled nursing facilities in Oregon a few years ago, the startup knew it would need more than an experienced pharmacy partner that could provide best-of-class services. With a commitment to providing personalized care in a home-like environment, Volare also placed a strong emphasis on finding a partner that shared its values.

“Volare Health was founded on the principles of delivering back to the bedside, caring for those who can’t care for themselves, and at the same time caring for the staff and the communities that we serve,” said Don Knox, Volare’s chief executive officer. “What the company strives to do is to give back.”  

Seeking the Right Partner

Keeping true to these bedrock principles, Volare set out to find a pharmacy partner it could trust to operate with integrity and support its plans for expansion. Helpfully, several members of Volare’s leadership team had worked with PharMerica in previous roles—and they knew it was exactly what they were looking for.  

“We’ve had wonderful experiences with PharMerica in the past,” said Nichole Bond, Volare’s chief nursing officer. “They have a proven track record of caring for our residents as much as we do, ensuring meds are received on time, and completing thorough medication regimen reviews to provide optimal outcomes.”

The partnership officially went live on March 1, 2023, and today PharMerica provides Volare’s 16 facilities—11 in Oregon, four in Louisiana, and one in Hawaii—with hands-on consultant pharmacists, survey prep services by nurse consultants, and accurate, on-time, and complete medication deliveries.

Robust Support Before Launch

PharMerica offered robust support to Volare well before the partnership officially launched. In addition to a detailed implementation plan, PharMerica provided extensive training starting in January 2023, with daily support for any issues that arose. As Bond recalled, PharMerica’s Robert Davis was on the ground with her team even before Volare acquired its facilities in Oregon.

“We met with the entire regional group, and Robert was on that panel with us to explain what his role was going to be and how PharMerica was going to make the transition,” she said. “He explained step by step what that transition would look like and the support that would be provided.”

It’s rare for a pharmacy partner to ensure such a high level of on-the-ground engagement. “Nine times out of 10, most people wouldn’t be there pre-acquisition, coming in and meeting all the staff,” Knox added. “Whether it be at a regional or at the corporate level, they’re there to make sure that whatever we need, we get, which says a lot about them.”

Trust Is the Foundation

Trust is essential to any successful partnership, and both Bond and Knox agree that PharMerica earned theirs. It’s more than a matter of providing exceptional services, though that’s certainly an important part. What distinguishes PharMerica, they said, is its commitment to open communication, honesty, and accountability.

“They’re always available, which is extremely helpful, and always open and honest about everything,” Bond explained. “Honest communication is 100 percent the basis of a partnership.”

“Everything that they’ve said they were going to deliver, they delivered,” Knox added. “If there was an issue, they stood by the issue, accepted it was an issue, and fixed it. That’s the biggest part of a partnership: having somebody that’s willing to admit when they’re wrong and fix that moving forward.”

Crucially, this commitment extends well beyond Volare’s leadership team. PharMerica considers itself partners with the employees at every Volare facility, not just the corporate suite. This allows potential issues to be solved quickly and efficiently, well before they reach Bond’s or Knox’s desk.

 “Any time we have issues from the facility level that are verbalized, immediate action is taken,” Bond explained. “One of Robert’s main initiatives when he met with all of the staff was, ‘I want to be your end line of communication. I don’t want things to get to the corporate level. If it doesn’t have to, you come to me and I’ll fix these issues.’ And he has done a wonderful job of that, as have the local pharmacies on the ground.”

More than a year since the partnership’s launch, the feedback from Volare’s employees has been stellar. “They’ve always had a resource to go to within PharMerica,” Bond said, with Knox echoing her point: “I think the employees would all say that PharMerica is a good partner with us.”

Partners in Rapid Expansion

As a startup in growth mode, Volare Health has expanded rapidly over the last year. In addition to its facilities in Oregon, it also opened locations in Louisiana and Hawaii, extending its footprint across the country. Scaling up is a challenge for any business, let alone a health care provider. With its expansive geographical coverage and deep institutional knowledge, PharMerica was able to ensure that Volare’s rapid growth didn’t come with any interruption to its pharmaceutical services.

“We have a very wide geographical area from the East Coast to the West Coast into Hawaii, and there’s always onsite visits from PharMerica representatives,” Bond said. “The nurse consultants are in quarterly, the pharmacists have their reviews monthly. That 24/7 support is what really keeps us on board with them.”

Looking to the future, Bond and Knox are confident that PharMerica is the right partner to support Volare Health’s continued growth, ensuring high-quality care for residents throughout the United States.

“When you look for a pharmacy that’s going to be able to continue to expand with us, you want to look for somebody who’s got pharmacies in the states that we serve and the states we might grow into,” Knox concluded. “On the flip side, they’re a large-scale pharmacy provider that’s able to offer us the terms and things of that nature that we need.”

To learn more about PharMerica, visit ​